Friday, September 16, 2005

Life can be funny for Persian Jews

Is being a stand-up comic the right job for a first-generation American-Persian-Jewish boy? Karmel Melamed reports in The Forward.

"The generation of Persian Jews whose parents fled revolutionary Iran 26 years ago is now struggling to find its voice. Like the members of many immigrant generations before them, they find that their parents are hoping they'll fulfill the American dream. But success can mean different things in different places. Two of the centers of Persian Jewish life in America — Los Angeles and New York — are also entertainment hubs, and for many young Iranian Jews it is the entertainment field and not law or medicine that offers their adopted land's true promise.

"Ask him what his name means in English, and Iranian Jewish stand-up comic Marvin Kharrazi will sarcastically say, "satisfied donkey!" His parents, however, are less satisfied. "I still can't have a conversation with my mom without her pleading with me to return to law school, or even consider medical school!" the 31-year-old Los Angeles-based comic said.

"Ahdoot, 26, who hails from the Persian Jewish enclave of Great Neck, N.Y., has built a much-lauded act centered on life as a second-generation Iranian-American. (He was a finalist on the NBC reality show "Last Comic Standing.") But it seems that his act has gone beyond merely tickling funny bones and toward addressing the anxieties of his peers. "After my TV appearances, I've received e-mails from other Iranian Jews, saying, 'I'm a lawyer or a doctor, and I don't want to do this anymore,'" he said.

"Adhoot noted that many Iranian Jewish families feel a strong need for their children to succeed professionally and financially, because a large segment of those who left Iran two-and-a-half decades ago were forced to leave behind vast fortunes. He also stated that being uprooted created among his parents' generation a sense that education was essential."
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