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Armed with humor
No comedian in the world could possibly make fun of Iranians with as much flare as we do


April 20, 2006 

One only needs to socialize a few hours with us Iranians to realize that a good laughter is at the core of our lives. We don’t just laugh, we breathe humor, our bodies are unable to absorb food unless a meal is enhanced with anecdotes, and sometimes our lives depend on a good joke. Thanks to our strong sense of humor, we have survived many ups and downs and it has helped us to withstand one foreign invasion after another. Forget obstacles such as “politically incorrect” for they have done nothing to stop us. We continue to tell the same jokes, except nowadays we make sure to ask, “Is anybody here a Rashti?” before proceeding.

For example, look at the gravity of what goes on in our homeland, yet it has generated more Ahmadinejad cartoons and jokes than any of us ever cared to see or hear. With the seriousness of a bomb threat lurking over Iran and the entire nuclear hullabaloo, how else could we handle the horror except with a good chuckle? In fact, there are Iranian-Americans among us who have already started to plan ahead by designing activities in case we are all put into an internment camp; now that’s what I consider good humor!

As good a “medicine’ as laughter may be, most Americans are too serious in their political views to laugh, thus failing to practice what they preach. Persians, on the other hand, may pretend to be a serious nation who is easily offended and angered, but in reality, manage to find a funny angle in everything, even in the darkest situations. Humor happens to be a major component of our daily lives and a good gathering is one that offers a lot of jokes and a good laughter. We laugh at a good joke even if we’ve heard it a hundred times before and it doesn’t have to be in a party because some people manage to laugh during funerals and memorial services!

What makes our humor special is the ability to laugh at ourselves, and no comedian in the world could possibly make fun of Iranians with as much flare as we do. We speak English with a deep accent, yet proceed to tell jokes about it while exaggerating the same accent and, let’s face it; a Turkish joke is only good when told by a Turk. If we are bald, fat, short, or have any characteristics that could be made fun of, we’ll be sure to joke about it long before anyone else has had the chance. It is as if jokes have become our defense mechanism, our protective shield, an immunization shot.

Having shown the world how serious we can be when it comes to education, business, and success, we have preserved our incredible sense of humor to strike back at those who are determined to destroy us. Sooner or later the enemy will get the message and realize that with or without Nukes, our most effective weapon is humor. They can have their merciless plans, line up their troops, and destroy what’s left of Persia, but there isn’t a power strong enough to demolish those mighty jokes. How can they dream of wiping out an ancient civilization and turning our land into ashes?  Knowing the Persian spirit, somewhere among the ashes an Iranian will find a deck of cards, gather a few other survivors for a game, poke fun at the whole tragedy and have the last laugh.

Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani is a retired dentist and a freelance writer. She lives in San Diego, California. Her latest book is "Sharik-e Gham" (see excerpt). Visit her site

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To Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani

Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani



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