Published May 02, 2017Maz Jobrani just performed a standup set in Toronto and he doesn't sound like he's in a hurry to get back to his home in Los Angeles.
"It's good to be in Canada now, given the political climate in America," he says over FaceTime. "It's nice to be in a place where immigrants and refugees are accepted. If I ever wanted to move away from America, it'd be a place I'd definitely consider."
A proud Iranian-American, Jobrani is an outspoken comedian and actor who has made appearances on late night TV shows, taped comedy specials for Netflix, wrote the bestselling book I'm Not A Terrorist, But I've Played One on TV, starred in films like Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero, and he currently plays the role of Fawz on the CBS sitcom, Superior Donuts.
If the current political climate has perplexed some comedians, it has definitely emboldened Jobrani.
"It's [a charged atmosphere] and it's got me charged as well, as an Iranian-American. I'm talking about it a lot on stage. I just taped my new Netflix special at the Kennedy Centre in Washington, DC and I'd say a good 20 to 30 minutes of my act was just about the disaster of Trump.
"That said, your life goes on and we just have to deal with it. Part of what's great about America, and Canada as well, is that we can talk about our political leaders in public. At least for the time being; let's see how the next couple of years go with the executive orders he keeps putting out."
Though resolute, there's palpable weariness in Jobrani's voice discussing America under Donald Trump. It's a resignation that all of us have to talk about this guy and all the psychological havoc he's wreaked in his first 100 days in office.
"It feels like he's been in power for 100 years," Jobrani says. "He came in with all of these executive orders, and one of the ones that really got me charged was the travel ban and how he was trying to sell it to the public as being for America's safety. None of the countries on the travel ban had ever committed an act of terror in America, but they tried to sell it as that, and that really upset me. As an Iranian-American, I was hearing stories about families being torn apart, people that needed medical attention weren't getting it, and they were just trying to downplay it. There was no humanity to it.
"That was a personal one, but then every day in the news, I see something and I have to shake my head. The guy has proposed a budget that's going to cut the Environmental Protection Agency by billions of dollars and then he's got the balls and the gall to say that he's going to donate $75,000 of his paycheque to Parks Services, like, 'I'm supporting the environment.' It's like, 'Really dude?'
"There are disasters galore," Jobrani says. "Every day there's something new he brings about and it's him not taking responsibility for his rhetoric as well. Him and his supporters often say, 'Oh, don't listen to his words. Don't take him seriously,' but I am taking him seriously. He's really emboldened a lot of racists and hate crimes. That guy in Kansas shot two Indians and then bragged about killing Iranians. He needs to take responsibility for that stuff.
"Racism has always existed and a big part of it is people just not knowing others," Jobrani reasons. "I think humans change other human's minds and it's hard for someone in the middle of America to hate Syrian refugees if they've been able to befriend them. It's so easy to watch Fox News and demonize a whole culture and assume they're out to get us. They're not out to get us."
Jobrani will undoubtedly address some of these issues when he lands in Montreal from July 12 to 27 to host 19 performances of The Ethnic Show, a beloved segment at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival.
This year's line-up includes Jewish-American Jessica Kirson, Korean Irish-American Steve Byrne, Italian-Canadians the Doo Wops (comprised of John Catucci and David Mesiano), Portuguese-Canadian Mike Rita, and Dominican-American Vlad Caamaño.
"It won't just be ethnic material," Jobrani says. "We talk about our backgrounds, but also about being parents and husbands and wives. It's always a very strong show and I just found out it's Canada's 150th anniversary and Montreal's 375th anniversary, so it's gonna be a great time to be in Montreal."
Listen to this interview with Maz Jobrani on the Kreative Kontrol podcast: