Comic using politics for laughs

British-Iranian comedian Omid Djalili tackled topics such as the death of Osama bin Laden and the western media's portrayal of Muslims in a packed gig in Dubai

The British comedian Omid Djalili entertaining an audience at the Madinat Jumeriah in Dubai on Friday. Duncan Chard / National
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DUBAI // Comedians worldwide have used the political uprisings across the Middle East and the death of America's most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden, as an opportunity for fresh material.

In Dubai on Friday night, the British comedian and actor Omid Djalili, was no different.

"Pakistan requested to go into America to capture a terrorist, and they responded 'yes, George Bush is here'," he told a packed audience at Madinat Jumeirah's amphitheatre to cheers.

He joked one half of him "hates everything to do with America, and the other half... exactly the same, no I'm just kidding.

"However, I do have a cousin who is half American and half Iranian, and he spends most of the time invading himself."

Djalili was headlining the Comedy Social. Born in London to Iranian parents,he previously performed in Dubai in 2009 while running workshops for comedy enthusiasts. He has also appeared in movies including The Mummy, Gladiator, The Infidel and Sex and the City 2.

"I'm here in Dubai to prove that we have a sense of humour in the Middle East.

"I'm also happy that you chose me over the Snoop Dogg concert," he said about the top American rapper performing at the same time in Abu Dhabi, and won loud applause from the audience.

He also took time to address more serious issues, criticising some western media for their portrayal of Muslims.

He asked the audience: "Why do they always say 'Muslim terrorists'? . There is the United States and Britain funding weapons and British prime minister Tony Blair, who also invaded Iraq, is now the Middle East Peace Envoy."

Jonathan Adams, from Salisbury, England, who was among the audience, said Djalili was good but he thought he was funnier when he performed in the UK.

"I thought he was provocative, experimental and funny in an outrageous sort of way," said Mr Adams.

Scott Martin, from Scotland, said he thought the comedian was hilarious. "I would watch him again even though he held back because he was trying to be culturally sensitive," he said.

Even Djalili admitted comedy could be tricky.

"In the UK, you have about 10 seconds to entertain otherwise you'll get heckled," he said.

"Dying on stage is a terrible thing."

If you missed our profile of Omid Djalili in Arts & Life last week, it's at