Contemporary Islam

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 129–153 | Cite as

American Muslims stand up and speak out: trajectories of humor in Muslim American stand-up comedy

  • Jaclyn MichaelEmail author


Muslim American stand-up comedy is a unique response to post-9/11 negative social discrimination where socially critical comedians debate the stereotypes and realities of Muslim American life. Thus they continue an American minority tradition of engaging with American social life through public humor. The analysis draws from functionalist theories of the sociology of humor in order to discern the intended social messages of jokes that are meant to entertain and also educate. It shows how Muslim American comedy intends to influence opinions held not only about Muslims but also amongst Muslims. The paper suggests how competing forces related to being Muslim and American undercut the critical public humor of comedians who use these performances to argue what American Muslims should be saying and doing in order to advance their cause for social justice.


Muslim Americans Gender Humor 9/11 Stand-up comedy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Languages and Cultures of AsiaUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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