Comedienne brings laughter, social justice campaign to South campus


Bradley Croman

Negin Farsad uses laughter to combat stereotypes.

After 9/11, anti-Islamic hate crimes rose over 1600 percent in the United States. Once among the least reported victims of such violence, according to the FBI, Muslims are now the second-most targeted group in religion-based incidents following anti-Semitic crimes.

Social justice comedienne Negin Farsad shared her plan to combat negative stereotypes associated with Muslims in “Fighting Islamophobia & What Have You with Comedy: Notes from an Iconless American,” presented April 7 at the Marie Spence Flickinger Fine Arts Center at San Jacinto College South Campus.

Farsad’s presentation was equal parts comedy and inspiration, using humor and personal anecdotes to drive home the message that the time has come to change the way Americans think about Muslims and the Middle East.

She encouraged attendees to step outside their comfort zones and make small gestures of humanity towards those from different backgrounds.

“It’s the small gestures that will do so much,” Farsad said. “If we can make those small gestures on an individual level, we can make a large community impact.”

The comedienne did not hold much back. She candidly discussed growing up, her family, and her dating life.

Farsad said she believes sharing personal stories with others is how bridges can be built between cultures.

“People need to hear your stories and anecdotes. That’s how people will learn about your culture… And comedy can be a tool,” Farsad said.

She also discussed her recent film project titled “The Muslims Are Coming!” In the movie, Farsad, alongside a troupe of fellow Muslim comedians, tours the heartland of America performing stand-up shows and interacting with Middle American communities.

In the film, the cast gave small town Americans the opportunity to “Ask a Muslim,” and even “Hug a Muslim,” in an effort to open dialogue between people from different backgrounds, and clear the air regarding the misconceptions Americans have about Muslims.

The event was hosted by the South campus Lyceum Committee.

Larry Gainor, South campus Reference Librarian and Committee member, recommended Farsad as a speaker. “[She uses] substantive comedy to entertain [and] get her message across,” Gainor said.

Fellow Committee member Doug Green said they were excited to bring Farsad in because, “her show is very topical… It concerns a lot of people. [And] being a comedian, she draws a lot of people in.”

San Jac student, Jose Guzman, said he “loved the show,” and added about Farsad, “She was concise and extremely funny.”

Dual credit student Islam Mizyed agreed with Guzman, and added he appreciated the way Farsad, “spoke her mind, and encouraged others to be open minded.”

Recently named one of The Huffington Post’s 50 Funniest Women, Farsad has enjoyed a meteoric rise with her special brand of social justice comedy. Her other feature works include “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Romantic Comedy,” “Bootleg Islam,” and, “Nerdcore Rising.” She also recently released a series of videos investigating the banking industry, including off-shore banking, banker bonuses, and JPMorgan President and CEO Jamie Dimon.