Comedian Ali Hassan says performing at a Jewish performance arts festival with his “Muslim, Interrupted” comedy tour is “weird.”
“It’s as weird as it sounds, on the one hand, but also it’s such an honour to be part of something like this,” he said.
“Maybe we can thank Trump for this kind of stuff.”
For Hassan, whose show mines his own experience as a Muslim-Canadian, the U.S. president’s policies — including a widely-criticized travel ban that critics have panned as explicitly targeted Muslims — have forced him to revise his act.
“The stuff that really affects people’s lives and livelihood and well-being isn’t as funny,” he said.
“It’s time now if you want to prove your mettle as a comedian … push boundaries and use comedy to expose, resist. Now is the time to dig deeper into your comedy.”
But Hassan says he has hope.
He said the present climate has inspired him to think about the physics axiom that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.
“One example is Donald Trump’s inauguration,” he explained. “Jan. 20 was a dark day for many people, but Jan. 21 was a phenomenal day. The National Women’s March saw numbers that you can’t imagine. People came out in so much solidarity. Fathers with their daughters on their shoulders — I loved seeing that.”
In a small part, Hassan said his performance at the Vancouver Chutzpah! Jewish Performing Arts Festival is an act of resistance too.
“I have to commend their spirit of generosity and openness and tolerance,” he said. “People are like, ‘what is chutzpah?’ Having a Muslim at a Jewish festival. That’s chutzpah right there.”
Hassan performs with Judy Gold on Feb. 24 at the York Theatre starting at 8 p.m. PT.
With files from The Early Edition
To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Ali Hassan talks comedy in the time of Trump