“No Laughing Matter”: Comedy & the News

September 27, 2011

6:30pm

Writers Guild of America, East
250 Hudson Street

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WGAE Members are invited to join Steve Inskeep of NPR’s Morning Edition, America’s most popular radio news show, moderating a lively panel with "Daily Show" writers Kevin Bleyer and Zhubin Parang, "Colbert Report" writer Glenn Eichler, and Kambiz Husseini and Saman Arababi of "Parazit," the popular Iranian Internet satire, as they all discuss the uses of comedy news to explode stereotypes and poke fun at political establishment rhetoric and (mis)perceptions about Muslims in the U.S. and abroad. 

Political satire has a long history in the United States, as part of the basic right to freedom of speech. But in Iran and the Arab world, comedy and satire have become important avenues for dissent and criticism of authoritarian regimes, both pre and post revolution. Stand up comedy has taken off in the Middle East, inspired by Arab and Iranian-American comedians.

Saman Arbabi is the co-creator and producer of the popular Iranian political comedy show "Parazit," which airs on Voice of America's Persian News Network. "Parazit" is billed as the show for people who "don't have the patience for news...and all news is bad news" brought to its listeners by the "servants of Mossad and the CIA" to "tickle the foundations of power." Arbabi lives in Washington, D.C.

Kevin Bleyer is a multiple Emmy Award-winning writer for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  Previously, he was a writer/producer for "Dennis Miller" and "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher," and was the creator and host of the Showtime pilot, "Nightly."  A frequent commentator for National Public Radio, his upcoming book, ME THE PEOPLE: AN ORDER TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION, will be published by Random House in May 2012 -- hopefully just in time to save America.

Glenn Eichler is a Peabody- and Emmy Award-winning writer for “The Colbert Report,” where he has worked since its 2005 debut.  Prior to that he developed and executive-produced the MTV animated series “Daria.”  He is the author of a number of books and graphic novels, which is not to say that graphic novels aren’t books, because they so are.  His latest, MUSH! SLED DOGS WITH ISSUES, with artist Joe Infurnari, will be published by First Second Books this December.

Kambiz Hosseini is a playwright and the writer / host and co-creator of Voice of America’s Parazit. He was born in Rasht, Iran in 1975 and moved to US in 2000. Hosseini was the host of popular Radio show called " Islamic Revolution Blossoms" when he was 10 years old. Since then he wrote and directed many stage plays, radio and TV shows. He is currently working as the writer and host of satirical show in Voice of America called "Parazit". He studied dramatic literatures and acting in Iran and the US.

Steve Inskeep is host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most widely heard radio news program in the United States. Before coming to NPR, Inskeep worked for public and commercial radio stations in and around New York City. He has written articles for publications including The New York Times and Washington Post. He is also the author of a forthcoming book on the world's growing urban areas, INSTANT CITY : LIFE AND DEATH IN KARACHI, to be published this October.

Zhubin Parang is a writer for the multiple Emmy Award-winning  "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." His writing has been featured in McSweeney's and The Onion, and he has written multiple shows for the famed Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, where he is a house performer.  Prior to joining "The Daily Show," he practiced law for several years after graduating from the Georgetown University Law Center.

This event co-hosted with MOST Resource, a complimentary provider to the entertainment industry of facts-based research and access to experts on the Middle East, Muslims and Islam.