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Palestinian-American Comic Talks About Finding Humor in Living With Cerebral Palsy

If you’re afraid of Muslims, you can come and see my comedy and realize we’re just as shallow as the next group,” says comic Maysoon Zayid.

Arab American National Museum

Maysoon Zayid is an award-winning Palestinian-American comedian, writer, and actress. She uses comedy as a way to redefine disability, reflecting on her experience growing up with cerebral palsy. She’ll perform at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn on Saturday with two shows — the first at 7 p.m. and the second at 9 p.m. 

Zayid joins Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to talk about those appearances as well as her life and career, including performing in Palestine and Jordan. 

I’m a comic who tends to freestyle a lot and I also like to tailor my shows to wherever I am,” says Zayid. ”So when I’m doing a show in Dearborn, I get to use a certain shorthand with that community. And the same goes for a place like Palestine.” She says it’s often more difficult to perform in the U.S.

I’ve performed all over the Arab world, uncovered and uncensored,” she says. ”I have never covered my hair and I have never censored myself. And I’ve managed to do that without ever being threatened by someone who identifies as a fellow Muslim. But recently in America I’ve been receiving a lot of hate and a lot of threats from my fellow Americans.”

If you’re afraid of Muslims, you can come and see my comedy and realize we’re just as shallow as the next group,” says Zayid.

On being a comedian with cerebral palsy, she says, “I force people to look at biases they have against people with disabilities that maybe they don’t know they have.”

I joke about my disability,” she says. ”Not in a way to make fun of it, but because it’s part of my story. And I joke about everything that’s part of my story. Absolutely nothing is off-limits.”

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio link above.

Image credit: Arab American National Museum

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