Is there comedy in the Middle East? Despite there being no easy way to describe stand-up comedy in Arabic, a group of "comedy ambassadors" travel from Dubai to Beirut, Riyadh to Cairo with a double mission: to disrupt the pervasive image of Muslims as solemn, threatening, and inhuman; and to deliver some much-needed relief and laughter to the intense reality of everyday life in the Middle East. As one of the first comedy shows in the Arab world starts rolling, backstage anxiety and nerves rumble after busting open cultural taboos in each city. The comics willfully walk the line on jokes about Islam, sexuality, and body parts—at times even with a foul mouth—in the hopes that, as one performer says, if we can learn to laugh at ourselves, the rest of the world will laugh with us.
As edifying as it is entertaining, Egyptian-American comic and first-time director Ahmed Ahmed's film shows us the Middle East like most Americans have never seen it before. Featuring the talented antics of Maz Jobrani, Tom Papa, Ted Alexandro, Tommy Davidson, Omid Djalili (The Infidel), Whitney Cummings, Sebastian Maniscalco, Angelo Tsarouchas, Sherif Azab, Erik Griffin, and Ahmed himself.