It's the New Year, and every year I do the same thing, I make a New Year's resolution that this year, I am going to try to be more honest, and hopefully put up with less BS. And to test my fortitude and resolve of this resolution, usually about a week into it, I am faced with a dilemma.
Do I put up, or shut up?
And so it goes this year.
The test? Another network TV show in which once again, an Iranian actor is a primary part of the cast. The actor in this case is none other than Maz Jobrani. The only way you don't know who Maz Jobrani is if you are in a coma, or in solitary confinement in Evin for protesting the inhumane use of solitary confinement. Maz Jobrani is the champion of bringing “It” to the American consciousness. Through his brilliant and dedicated efforts behind the “Axis of Evil Comedy” tours, and the latest incarnation “The Sultans of Satire”, he has been the brightly shining and hilarious beacon for, to use marketing terminology, “educating and informing the target audience of the benefits, features, and value of our brand.” That's the “It” he brings.
As I am a fan of Maz, you can start to see the dilemma forming.
Wednesdays, around 9pm, on ABC, the new show, “The Knights of Prosperity” has cast yet another shadow through what I am calling the retarded mis-placement of the stereotypical “quirky Indian fellow”, using of all people Maz! So allow me to let you get this straight. Maz who does an Iranian accent about as perfectly as he does any other accent you want him to do for you, is playing the quirky Indian cab driver! Not the quirky Iranian cab driver, but the quirky Indian cab driver! at one point in the show he even gets called, get this, “Dr. Bombay”.
Now, as I am sure you do, I too have many Indian friends. In order, they are teachers, doctors, engineers (a lot of them are engineers), and Oh all right! Yes! Computer programmers! You want a stereotype fine take that one! And I am sure there are many Iranian and Indian cab drivers. So you can keep the character, if you really want to fight with me about this script.
But to have an Iranian, so full of talent and natural comedic timing, play the role of an Indian cab driver? It's almost like someone wanted to insult both countries with one insult. Isn't there any way this could have been avoided? I mean you can at least get an Indian actor to play the role of the Indian cab driver. Not to mention, what will I tell my Indian friends as they complain about how there are so many Indian actors to choose from.
I am trying to play the casting meeting, in my head, to see how they could have come up with this seemingly idiotic plan.
“Hey, I have an idea, why don't we have Maz play the role of the Indian Cab driver?”
“Uh, dude, Maz is Iranian.”
“Oh, I thought he was Indian.”
“No Dude, he's Iranian.”
“Oh….. Huh! Yeah but he has an Indian accent.”
“No Dude, he doesn't have an accent.”
“Oh….. Well, can he do an Indian accent?”
“I don't know, he's right here, let me ask him… Hey Maz! Can you do an Indian accent?”
Or maybe it was Maz's agent.
“Maz? Hi, Lou here. Lou, Lou Bernstein, your agent!”
“Look Maz, I got you a read for a new show on ABC, it's perfect for you Baby!”
“No it's not a terrorist this time. I'm telling you it's got Emmy written all over it!”
“OK then I'll set up the meeting…. by the way, can you do an Indian accent?”
So you can see why I'm densely confused. And usually when I'm dense and confused, I find that there is bound to be an insulting reason for it, and when I get insulted, I tend to get angry. I'm funny like that.
So I am getting angry at this role Maz is playing. I don't want to hear how “… a gig's a gig!” (Sorry Omid!). What I want to hear is an Iranian being a funny smart Iranian on a network comedy. Is that too much to ask? Can I get that just once?
For once can I get the true character, nature, and real sense of Iranian humor depicted honestly? Because as funny goes, I think it will actually be a much bigger punch line, and get far more laughs, than asking our most talented people to suck it up and just play with the pain, of playing everyone except themselves. OK, so it shows good versatility in an actor. I get that. But it still sucks.
So, I will like most of you, watch Maz, albeit begrudgingly, be “the quirky Indian cab driver” on “The Knights of Prosperity” on ABC, on Wednesday nights, at 9pm. But only out of loyalty to Maz, and I'll probably be drinking heavily, because I won't like it as much as watching Maz be Maz.
Here's to “The Knights of Prosperity“, may it turn into the “Nights of Prosperity” for Maz, and lead to better roles.
Subscribe to The Iranian newsletter
Sign up for our daily newsletter to get the top news stories delivered to your inbox.