Axis of Evil
Arab-American Stand Up Comedy
Ahmed Ahmed, Dean Obdeidallah
Independent release Comedy DVD

Never tape your stand-up comedy show in a high school gym. If the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour with Ahmed Ahmed (whose CD I Believe I Can’t Fly is solid) and opening act Dean Obdeidallah had been filmed in a real comedy club chances are it would come across better than it does on this independent release comedy DVD. Neither comic feels totally comfortable on this high school auditorium stage and this seems to affect their rhythm and so their delivery and so their confidence. The audience itself, though somewhat warm, also feels like it is not quite comfortable with the setting considering this is a stand-up comedy show. The fact audience and comics are separated from the stage by some 15 feet and a weird fence looking thing does not help.

Dean Obdeidallah is okay in this performance though he certainly spends a lot of time using the old “Anybody here from ?” bit to try to get the audience on his side. This gets somewhat annoying and tedious when he gets to naming every possible country in the Middle East. Unfortunately, he does not only do that at the beginning of his set. This is quite weird because you get the very strong feeling that in a real comedy club his material comes across much better.

Obdeidallah is of Sicilian and Palestinian origins and this definitely gives him access to some very funny material. His Sicilian mother’s take on The Sopranos is funny. This comic’s best bit here is when he does George Bush speaking as if right out of a Dr. Seuss book. There is, of course, material on the post 9/11 world most Muslim looking Americans live in and the many frustrating encounters with the law they face every day. Another good bit, though under exploited, is the idea of Sharon and Arafat doing commercials together.

I have seen Ahmed Ahmed live, I have his comedy CD I Believe I Can’t Fly, and this performance does not feature this comic at his best. He too spends an inordinate amount of time getting connected with the audience with the “Anybody here from ?” bit and he too doesn’t seem to be able to get it really warmed up. This is unfortunate because the material, some fresh, such as spending some time in a Las Vegas jail for “airport rules” the day before the election, and some from the very good I Believe I Can’t Fly, is solid and sometimes quite dark. That he manages to offend some of this audience is, in my books, a plus.

Ahmed Ahmed also does very funny cultural, autobiographical, and observational comedy. His bit about growing up Arab American in a strict home with four women is very good, as is his routine about being terrorist number 4 in Executive Decision. His ideas for the title of a sitcom about Muslims are pretty good and he definitely gets you and the audience with the curve he tosses in at the end. This is a very good stand-up comic on a lesser recorded to DVD show.

Most annoying about The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour independent release comedy DVD is the fact that sometimes the synchronization between the sound and what the comic is saying is definitely off. This is most visible in some of Ahmed Ahmed’s bits.

The Axis Of Evil Comedy Tour DVD is more than a curiosity but less than a must see.