Featuring Headliner Eman El-Husseini
with Usama Siddiquee and Jackie Keliiaa
and Charles McBee as Master of Ceremonies
Watch the video trailer:
May 12, 2023
Brava Theater Center
2781 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Featuring Headliner Eman El-Husseini, with Usama Siddiquee and Jackie Keliiaa, and Master of Ceremonies Charles McBee
Production Photography by Amal Bisharat Photography
Curated by our 2023 Artist-in-residence, Wafaa Bilal, Amreeka: The Comedy Show was born after the 2016 election, bringing together diverse comedians with one thing in common: they love to complain. Then and since, the toxic culture and politics in “Amreeka,” as some Middle Easterners playfully pronounce it, offer ample fodder for complaints. This cathartic and witty venting holds a mirror up to reality showing it has become so absurd and surreal, one must laugh, if not cry.
For Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal, the show, just like his solo works, “is an artistic platform for creating dialogue and bringing people together on highly charged topics. Not politicizing laughter but laughing at politics as a form of solidarity and resistance.”
A Canadian, a Palestinian, a Muslim, and a lesbian walk into a bar … it’s just Eman El-Husseini. Yes, she’s all those catastrophic identities rolled into one — her life is a current event. From the Muslim ban to Palestinian rights and marriage equality to the ice cream truck that insists on parking in front of her building, it’s all happening and it’s happening to her, especially. Strap in and get comfortable, Eman has a lot to work through. In her decade-long comedy career, Eman has headlined across Canada, opened for Patton Oswalt, and recorded her first comedy album, “Unveiled,” which can be heard regularly on SiriusXM Radio. She currently lives in New York City, legally, thank you very much.
Usama Siddiquee (formerly known by his stage name “Usama Bin Laughin”) is completely comfortable with writing a bio about himself in third person. His absolute ease should already be impressing you by now. And if you thought that last paragraph was self-serving, here is a shameless list of Usama’s achievements. He is on Netflix’s Inventing Anna, HBO’s And Just Like That, Comedy Central’s Nora from Queens, and FX’s Better Things. Wow! He most recently was featured on the 2020 season of America’s Got Talent. He traveled to Montreal as one of the New Faces at Just For Laughs in 2018. Shortly after he was passed at the world-famous Comedy Cellar in New York.
Jackie Keliiaa is a stand-up comedian, writer, and actor based in Oakland, California. You can find her in the 2021 release, We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans & Comedy. She has been featured on Comedy Central, Team Coco, Netflix and IllumiNative’s 25 Native American Comedians to Follow. Jackie has opened for Judah Friedlander, Nikki Glaser, JR De Guzman and is featured on the First Nations Comedy Experience streaming on Amazon Prime. She is a regular at Bay Area venues and has performed at San Francisco SketchFest, Punch Line San Francisco and Cobb’s Comedy Club.
Charles McBee is a stand-up comedian based out of New York City by way of Toledo, Ohio. He has performed at clubs and colleges across the country, with appearances on Laughs, Punchline, and Gotham Comedy Live. His television writing credits include MTV’s Video Music Awards, VH1’s Hip Hop Honors, and The Golden Globe Awards. Currently, he is the head writer of Comedy Central’s Hell Of A Week with Charlamagne Tha God, executive-produced by Stephen Colbert and Aaron McGruder.
Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal (he/him) is known internationally for his on-line performative and interactive works provoking dialogue about international and interpersonal politics. Bilal’s work explores tensions between the cultural spaces he occupies —his home in the comfort zone of the U.S. and his consciousness in the conflict zone in Iraq.
For his 2007 installation, Domestic Tension, Bilal spent a month in FlatFile Galleries where people could shoot him via a remote-access paintball gun. The Chicago Tribune called it “one of the sharpest works of political art to be seen in a long time”—naming him 2008 Artist of the Year. That year, City Lights published Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun about Bilal’s life and Domestic Tension. Using his own body as a medium, Bilal continued to challenge the public’s comfort zone with projects like 3rdi and and Counting…. Bilal’s work, Canto III, was included as part of the Iranian pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Bilal’s current work 168:01 brings awareness to cultural destruction and promotes the collective healing process through education and audience participation. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar; amongst others. He holds a BFA from the University of New Mexico, an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was conferred an honorary PhD from DePauw University. Bilal is currently an Arts Professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.