Comedian Maz Jobrani’s Plot to Overthrow The Government- EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

  ‘Twas the night before the long-anticipated World Cup match between USA and Slovenia. I met with an Iranian-American man late at night at a cafe in Hollywood, while the rest of Los Angeles was still out celebrating the LA Lakers 2010 Championship win. 

This man wanted to tell me all about his “plot” to overthrow “the government” while everyone was “sleeping behind the wheel” watching the soccer match the next morning at 9:30 AM. When I asked him “which government” he had in mind, he responded, “all the governments, so no one feels left out.” Sound scary? Not if the man doing the plotting is comedian/actor Maz Jobrani.

Maz is by far one of my favorite comedians and is best known as a founding member of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, which featured some of the top Middle Eastern-American comics in the world. The Axis of Evil Comedy Central Special premiered in 2007 as the first show on American TV with an all Middle Eastern-American cast. I have seen Maz perform live stand-up comedy several times in Los Angeles. So, it was an absolute privilege and pleasure to be introduced to Maz through a mutual friend, actor Anthony Azizi

My “interview” with Maz was quite unique. He is literally a one-man show, leaving almost no need for interruptions for mundane questions. His words just flow, and anyone around just listens. So, before I could ask any personal questions, Maz continued with his rant to overthrow the government. He wants to overthrow the government to legalize marriages between zebras. He wants to legalize chewing gum. I think he also said he wants to legalize pot, but I think he was joking about that one. And he will “have a Big Mac to celebrate” once he succeeds. “Forget it, I changed my mind. I am overthrowing McDonald’s.” By this time I realized I should just record Maz because my pen could not keep up with notes. As soon as I turned on my camera, his rant had already found yet another victim:

Maz then changed gears. And got a bit more serious. I asked him about the funny Public Service Announcement (“PSA”) he had done for Iranican to encourage Iranian-Americans to participate in and list themselves as “Iranian-American” on the 2010 census. I asked, “Maz, was that a real PSA?” Maz said, “Of course it was.”  And he continued to explain what that PSA is about and why he says Iranians always put “zero” on forms:
I then posed to Maz some questions that Celeb Magnet/Maz fans had asked me to ask of Maz:
Edward: “Maz, when did you know you are funny?”
Maz: “I knew it the second the doctor slapped my ass when I was born. Most babies cry, I laughed. So, I knew I was funny then. I also knew then I would be into S&M, but that’s another story.”
Sepi: “How did your family react to you wanting to be an actor/comedian when Iranian men are expected to be doctors, engineers or lawyers?”
Maz: “I acted at an amateur level all through grades 1-12 and and college. I wanted to study acting in college, but my parents wanted me to be a lawyer or a doctor. I had absolutely no interest
in being a doctor, so I studied political science in the hopes of going to law school and becoming a
lawyer. My junior year at Berkeley I took a year and studied abroad in Italy. There I had this professor
that I thought was amazing. I decided I wanted to emulate him and be a professor. So, when I came
back to the States I applied for grad school in Political Science.

I got into UCLA’s Ph.D. program for political science, but at the same time I started auditioning for plays at the UCLA theatre department. I got into a few of their plays and realized that acting was my real passion. It had been a few years that I hadn’t really done any because I had followed the path my parents had wanted me to follow. But by the time I started grad school at UCLA I was mature enough to realize I had to do what I wanted to do with my life and that meant acting. I dropped out of grad school and started auditioning for independent films in LA. I then got a job at an advertising agency to help pay the bills. I decided I would act as a hobby and I got into a play. It wasn’t until I was 26 when I decided that I was going to pursue acting professionally. My parents were worried at first but did not stop me. My dad lived in Iran, so, he did not have much to say about it. My mom recommended that I also study automobile mechanics as a backup because I could always be a mechanic in any country as opposed to a doctor or a lawyer who would have to study and be licensed locally.”

Jason: “You play a lot of shows, sometimes back-to-back in the same venue; do you have an exact joke list for each show?”
Maz: “The shows I do in Los Angeles where I live are usually short 15-20 minute ‘workout sets’ where I try my new jokes with a live audience. My out of town shows are usually 1+ hours and I change orders of jokes and use different ‘crowd material’ for each show, you know, my spontaneous interactions with audience, which is always new based on what the audience gives me to work with. I like to change the order of the listed jokes too so it is exciting for me as well. But that makes the job harder too, because sometimes changing the order ruins the set up for the next joke when I go out of order. And worse, sometimes mid-act, I wonder if I have already done a particular joke I want to do next during the same set. When that happens, I start the new joke slowly, and wait for crowd reaction. If their laugh is authentic, I know this is the first time they are hearing it! If the laughter sounds forced, I know I must have already done that joke. It doesn’t happen often. But I have heard other comedians do the same jokes in the same set and not even realize.”
Shadi: “When will you perform again in Washington, DC?”
Maz: “Actually, I will start a US tour in January 2011 and will be performing in Washington, DC around the Iranian new year, either on March 20 or 21st. I will also be recording that show as my new DVD.”
Raamin: “Do you know you look like Mexico team’s goalkeeper, Oscar Perez Rojas?”
Maz: “Oon toppoltareh.”  Translation: “He is chubbier.” Maz continued: “And, I have a more refined nose. People also tell me I look like the guitarist for Velvet Revolver, Dave Kushner.”
Steve: “Where else will you be performing next?”
Maz: “I will have sporadic US shows this year, am going on an international tour this month to places like London and Sweden, and will start a full US tour in January 2011.” You can catch all of Maz’s tour dates on his spankin new website by clicking here.
Parting Words
I asked Maz what he wanted to tell his fans. He said, “Go buy my DVD, Brown & Friendly.” During my interview with Maz, he found out I love Adam Lambert. So, he also had a special message for Adam Lambert fans:

For the rest of his fans, and I suppose Adam Lambert fans too, he had the following message:
Maz and I then goofed around a bit as you can see before we parted ways. He gave me his business card; I think that means we are now BFFs. For all I know, the number on that card is a voice service/answering machine only. I can always dream. All I do know is that I cannot wait to hear Maz’s new material at his next show.
So, I will be checking out Maz’s new website often to know when and where he will be performing next.
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