So a Jew and a Muslim walk into a bar…
OK, not quite, but two such comedians will enter Embarcadero Hall tonight for a free performance.
The Muslim Student Association and the Santa Barbara Hillel will co-sponsor the two-hour stand-up comedy event, which kicks off at 8:30 p.m. with Jewish headliner Iliza Shlesinger and Muslim headliner Max Armini. MSA and Hillel jointly secured $1,250 in funding from Associated Students to cover expenses.
Hillel Communications Vice President Hannah Gallagher, who conceptualized the event, said she hoped the night of entertainment would shift attention away from conflicts between Jews and Muslims and offer a comfortable atmosphere in which the groups could interact.
“It’s nice to do something peaceful, fun and happy as opposed to stressing over the tension in the Middle East between Jews and Muslims,” Gallagher said. “It’s pleasant not to think about that in UCSB, to be able to laugh despite our differences.”
Gallagher, a fourth-year English major, said she originally envisioned a strictly Jewish comedy night, but when she pitched the concept to the Hillel Student Board, they suggested that the organization team up with MSA. While the two groups have collaborated in the past, tonight’s event marks the first time the two have worked in conjunction recently.
MSA Events Planner Fariha Mansoory, a fourth-year biology and Middle Eastern studies major, said she also has high expectations for the evening and anticipates that the comic atmosphere will not only improve relations between the Jewish and Muslim community, but also increase collaborations between organizations on campus.
“Its great to have everyone come together and share something other than war,” Mansoory said. “It’s something different and will definitely improve our relationship with other groups at UCSB.”
According to Hillel adviser Amber Shields, the hostile relations depicted by the Western press should not interfere with Jewish and Muslim students’ ability to coexist on campus.
“Although the two groups are portrayed as being at odds with one another by the media, there’s no reason for that to be the case here at UCSB,” Shields said.
Jewish stand-up comic Shlesinger often performs at comedy clubs in the Los Angeles area, and has garnered national acclaim. She was the winner of the Myspace “So You Think You’re Funny” contest and was previously invited overseas to entertain the troops. She is scheduled to perform upcoming gigs at the Hollywood Improv and Sportsman’s Lodge in Camarillo. Muslim comic, Armini, who was personally invited by Shlesinger, has also worked at the Hollywood Improv, as well Comedy Union and the Laugh Factory. Hindu comic Tarun Shetty will join the two headliners at the event.
Gallagher said the racially diverse lineup is sure to dissolve both racial and religious barriers, and send a message of tolerance to the audience. In addition, she said the event is not exclusively aimed at Jews and Muslims, and will cover a wide range of general topics that various students can relate to.