LONDON: Britain’s “Super Muslim Comedy Tour” is back in full swing, bringing together some of the world’s celebrated Muslim comedians to entertain audiences for a good cause.
The charity event, now in its seventh year, kicked off in London on Oct. 21 before heading North to perform live in 10 cities, including Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.
Returning to stage are Abdullah Afzal, from the BBC’s award-winning “Citizen Khan,” Prince Abdi, who has supported some of the biggest names in the game including Dave Chappelle, Trevor Noah and Chris Rock, and Azeem Muhammad and Preacher Moss from the critically acclaimed “Allah Made Me Funny.”
The line-up also includes two exciting fresh faces of Arab origins. Performing at the touring show for the first time are Fathiya Saleh, a Londoner with Yemeni-Somali roots, and Palestinian American Atheer Yacoub, who has a half-hour special on Comedy Central Arabia.
The tour is organized by Penny Appeal, an award-winning international humanitarian charity with projects in more than 45 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
While the acts on tour all fall under the umbrella of “halal entertainment,” each performer presented distinctive comedy styles inspired by their ethnic background.
Arab News caught up with the comics on Saturday for their second show in the capital.
The show opened with British-Pakistani Jeff Mirza, who defied the common perception of British dry humor with an eccentric performance filled with gestures, facial expressions and sounds.
Mirza, the first British-Muslim comedian to perform in Saudi Arabia, caused fits of laughter as he poked fun at Muslim men who “stare.”
“They say a smile is a form of charity,” Mirza told Arab News. He explained that the comedy tour kills two birds with one stone by making people laugh while raising money for a charitable cause.
Meanwhile, Saleh shared her experience of being an adult living in a Somali-Yemeni household.
The 24-year-old, who started doing stand-up in 2019, has appeared in several shows in London, including “Asians vs Arabs,” “Arabs Are Not Funny!”, and on BBC Asian Network Comedy.
Her string of punchlines earned her a big round of applause on Saturday as she captured the true essence of family-oriented cultures found in Arab and Muslim communities.
“Everyone needs somewhere to be able to switch off and come and enjoy themselves in a fun halal way so hopefully this can be that place for Muslim audiences,” Saleh told Arab News.
Flying in from Missouri, Azeem Muhammad gave one of the most socially-conscious comedic acts in which he opened up about his conversion to Islam and his experience as a Muslim man in the US.
Muhammad also told Arab News that halal comedy plays an important role in inspiring future generations to not only focus on scholars and academics but their spiritual essence, and their creative and cultural values as well.
Similarly, Atheer Yacoub, who performed in London on Sunday, shared her stories of growing up as a Palestinian Muslim in Alabama and moving to New York.
Palestinian-Americans are making it big this year on the comedy scene, with the likes of Mo Amer, Amer Zahr and Sammy Obeid finding success.
Yacoub said that her audiences, especially women, are pleased to see female representation.
British-Moroccan actress Laila Rouass, who came to watch the show, shared her positive reactions with Arab News.
“I loved every minute of it. How wonderful to see so many talented Muslim comedians in one place. The night was filled with laughter, diversity and, of course, fundraising for a very worthy course.
“Bravo Penny Appeal for the pioneers that you are,” she said.
Proceeds from this year’s show, which has reportedly sold more than 5,000 tickets, will support victims who have lost their livelihoods due to the recent Pakistan floods.
Organizers said that the charity event annually generates about £500,000 ($564,675).
British actor and comedian Abdullah Afzal shared his first-hand experience of witnessing the devastation of floods when visiting the crisis-hit country.
“It’s been horrific. People are really struggling, so nights like tonight are really important in rebuilding Pakistan.”
The “Super Muslim Comedy Tour” will run until Oct. 30, making its final stop in the city of Bradford.