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CC Arts Week addresses the serious with seriously funny
When: Monday, Feb. 4-8
Where: Colorado College’s Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave.
Cost: All events are free, except for the keynote presentation by Maz Jobrani, which is $10, $5 for CC students, faculty and staff, available at the Worner Campus Center information desk, 902 N. Cascade Ave.
THE FULL SCHEDULE
4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4
Film Screening Room
A comedy about a Muslim who finds out he was born Jewish.
“God, That’s Funny! Humor, Religion, Politics, Identity”
7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5
Reception and signing to follow at IDEA Space
A panel discussion Firoozeh Dumas, author of “Laughing without an Accent” and “Funny in Farsi,” Jonathan Goldstein, host of NPR’s “Wiretap, and Steven Hayward, CC assistant professor of English and author of “The Secret Mitzvah of Lucio Burke.”
Keynote Performance by Maz Jobrani
7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6
“Colliding Currents? Exploring the Boundaries of Humor, Faith & Politics”
Richard F. Celeste South Theatre
Maz Jobrani is best known as a founding member of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, which featured some of the top Middle Eastern-American comics in the world.
“Tribal Fusion: Arabic Dance in the Digital World”
7 p.m. Feb. 8
Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center
Richard F. Celeste South Theatre
Donna Mejia is a choreographer, lecturer, teacher, administrator, and performer specializing in an emerging genre of dance that combines Arab, African and nomadic traditions with American hip-hop and electronica.
Fusion Dance Party
8-10 p.m. Feb. 8
Cornerstone Arts Week concludes with music, food and dancing.
America seems more politically divided than ever. Fear and loathing have become popular pastimes. Our airports continue to go through alerts in scary colors.
And Colorado College thinks these are laughing matters?
You betcha, because the organizers of CC’s Cornerstone Arts Week believe that humor may take us places that dry lectures can’t. The theme of this year’s multi-disciplinary arts intensive, “What’s So Funny? Humor, Faith, and Politics,” builds a bevy of performances, films, lectures and special events around the idea of tickling sensitive funny bones.
“Faith and politics are things that you don’t talk about at the dinner table in polite company. These are dangerous topics,” says Jessica Hunter Larsen, curator of the college’s IDEA Space. “What happens when you are able to joke about it? Does it diffuse the tension? Is humor a way we can share experiences, or are there gaps in cultures about what is funny? These are interesting questions we hope to explore.”
One step along that exploration leads to the keynote “speech,” a stand-up routine by Iranian American comedian Maz Jobrani, founder of the “Axis of Evil Comedy Tour.”
Here’s an example of his stand-up:
“Part of me likes me. Part of me hates me. Part of me thinks I should have a nuclear program. And part of me thinks I shouldn’t be trusted with one.”
Jobrani loves to play with those stereotypes, which affect the way people see him and others with roots in the Middle East.
“I think that the comedy comes from the misperceptions that the West has about people from the Middle East,” he says in an email interview. “It’s funny because, if you watch the news, you would think that all people from the Middle East wear turbans, ride camels and hijack things. When, in reality, the people of the Middle East are a lot more modernized and much more similar to people in the West than some people think.”
Here’s how that philosophy plays out in his act:
“Every time they show us on TV, they always show the crazy guy burning the flag, going ‘Death to America!’ Always that guy. Just once, just once, I wish they’d show us — I don’t know — baking a cookie. Just once. Because I’ve been to Iran, and we do have cookies.”
In giving Wednesday night’s keynote presentation, Jobrani will join an impressive cadre of heavy cultural hitters who’ve participated in Cornerstone Arts Weeks. Among them: Playwright Tony Kushner, feminist author Camille Paglia, comedian and actress Sandra Bernhard and best-selling author Amy Tan, to name a few.
Other highlights of the week include:
• “The Infidel,” a film on Monday about Muslim man who finds out that he was born Jewish.
• “God, That’s Funny! Humor, Religion, Politics, Identity,” a panel discussion Tuesday night, featuring Firoozeh Dumas, author of “Laughing without an Accent,” Jonathan Goldstein, host of NPR’s “Wiretap,” and assistant professor of English Steven Hayward.
• “Tribal Fusion: Arabic Dance in the Digital World,” a demonstration on Feb. 8 about how movement can bring together traditions from Arab, African and nomadic traditions and weave them with American hip-hop and electronic. Dance party to follow.
There also will be art exhibits and special presentations throughout the week, all in the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center.
“It’s a lot of stuff,” Larsen says. “You could pitch a tent.”
She’s joking. Don’t pitch a tent. The college probably has rules about that kind of thing.