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April 19, 2018

Town and Country

Comedy and donuts are just two elements of Maz Jobrani’s American Dream.

Orly Minazad
  • Theo & Juliet Photography

When he once joked on stage about his Iranian grandmother keeping her cash in her bra, Maz Jobrani drew howls from the crowd. And he had an epiphany.

"It's not just Iranians, it's immigrants . And if people aren't immigrants, they know immigrants," says the Iranian-American comedian on the challenge of bridging the proverbial cultural gap. "I think when you're honest about yourself and what you're going through, people relate."

Hence the title of his Netflix Original stand-up special, Immigrant, which is everything fans love and expect from one of Comedy Central's original Axis of Evil troupe.

"My material is about being a dad, and being married but also politics, especially when it comes to the crazy stuff that happens on the right in Iran or America."

Late last year, Jobrani hosted the International Emmy Awards gala in New York City, and in March he penned an op-ed for The New York Times paying homage to the Persian New Year.

For Iranians in the U.S., the political environment has been challenging, but Jobrani —actor, comedian, producer and author —persistently advocates for the American Dream. "Being a comedian, you have to be the ultimate entrepreneur," Jobrani says, grabbing a coffee on his way to the set of his CBS comedy, Superior Donuts. "You always have to keep working. I'm not the type to sit on the couch and play video games all day."

Now wrapping season two, Superior Donuts is a workplace comedy reminiscent of old-school, cozy sitcoms. Jobrani plays Fawz, an Iraqi real-estate developer scheming to buy the donut shop owned by the stubborn Arthur Przybyszewski (Judd Hirsch). "I'm loving it! What a great cast to work with!" he says of his TV family, which includes Jermaine Fowler, who as the shop's sole employee, Franco, is determined to drag the place into — at least — the 20th century.

Jobrani enjoys working close to home in L.A., where he unwinds with discount foot massages with his wife and kids, his biggest fans. "They love coming to my shows," he says, resigned to the awkward follow-up questions ("Daddy, what's blue balls?").

While family life inspires much of his material, President Trump has been his main muse. "He'll do or say something, you'll write a joke and, before you're done, he'll do something else," Jobrani vents, adding, "It's almost like you need a late-night show to keep up with the guy."

Hint, hint.

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 3, 2018

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