Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Laughing with the Infidel: Comedian Omid Djalili on Being Funny about Faith

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Laughing with the Infidel: Comedian Omid Djalili on Being Funny about Faith

Article excerpt

IN THE FILM farce The Infidel, British comic Omid Djalili portrays Mahmud, a devoted family man and a semi-devout Muslim--who discovers he was born a Jew. Djalili is also featured in Just Like Us, a documentary profiling stand-up comedians performing in the Middle East. During the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, Becky Garrison, author of Jesus Died for This?., interviewed Omid to get his take on the role of the comedian in a post-9/11 era.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

What attracted you to David Baddiel's script for The Infidel?

David got the idea to do a script about a Muslim everyman while he was watching me doing stand-up. He's one of those rare commodities, where he's an atheist but he's not anti-religion. I'm a Baha'i and I believe all religions come from the same God. I liked the idea that this film at its center had a very good heart and believed in religious unity.

How did you prepare for this role?

I spent a bit of time with a Muslim family who were semi-devout, but I decided in the end that the character was very much based on my personality. We've never had a Muslim everyman before and he had to be a flawed character, kind of like Homer Simpson.

What stereotypes do you hope to debunk with this movie? …

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