Actor and comedian Ali Hassan is performing his solo stand up show “Muslim, Interrupted” at the LSPU Hall in St. John’s this Friday, July 14th.
If you’re a die hard CBC fan, Ali Hassan will need no introduction. He has been a host of Laugh Out Loud, the lead comedy panellist on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, and most recently the host of the 2017 Canada Reads competition. You may also know him from his roles in FX’s Man Seeking Woman, CTV’s Cardinal and PBS’ Oddsquad.
After a month-long run at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Hassan is currently touring Canada with “Muslim, Interrupted.”
The show’s title is a reference to Hassan’s fitful relationship with his faith. He was raised Muslim, but considered himself a cultural Muslim as opposed to a practicing one for a large chunk of his adult life.
After 9/11 Hassan realized he would be perceived as Muslim regardless of his connection to his faith, and began working on embracing the religion in a way that worked for him. Hassan has four children and a lot of his inspiration for the show comes from the questions they ask him about Islam.
“My kids ask things like ‘How come we don’t go to the mosque? How come we don’t pray? How come you always order peperoni on your half of the pizza?’ obviously I’ve been confusing them quite a bit,” Hassan said.
“I took stuff that was happening in the house and brought it to the stage, as that’s what comedians tend to do. We joke about what we know and what we’re experiencing.”
Since Trump’s election, his kids’ questions have gotten more difficult and Hassan has reworked his show to reflect how being Muslim has changed for his family in the Trump era.
“My stepdaughters just turned 12 and 13 and they watch the news … Now their questions are like ‘What’s a travel ban? What’s a registry? Why do Muslims needs a registry?’” Hassan said.
“We’ve had to have these very serious discussions about the community we’re part of, that’s after trump more than anything.”
Before his children came into his life, Hassan was mostly working in bars and clubs, doing dirtier comedy about his life as a single man. When his youngest stepdaughter told him she was looking him up on Youtube, he panicked.
“I started thinking about my legacy, and what I want to leave behind and I started doing cleaner comedy,” Hassan said. “My kids have really helped my career, as much as I make fun of them on stage.”
A lot of the feedback Hassan has received about “Muslim, Interrupted” is that it’s very funny but it’s also informative. For Hassan the show is comedy first and foremost, but he’s happy to be able to educate audiences.
“I’ve just sort of fallen into important. Spending ten minutes crafting the perfect fart joke, that has some reward, but this another level of fun and fulfillment altogether,” Hassan said.