By Chris Brown on May 11, 2019.
It’s a comedy show, but Ali Hassan won’t have any complaints if you leave the theatre having learned something.
The Canadian comedian, host and actor will be at the Esplanade on Wednesday with his show Muslim, Interrupted. The fact people come for laughs and get a little bit of information out of it is just a bonus for Hassan.
“I’m not trying to tour a TED Talk across the country,” he said last month. “I’m really trying to entertain people.”
Hassan began developing the show in 2016 and has toured it for the past couple of years. He said audience members have told him they learned about Muslim prayer rituals, dietary restrictions and even Sunday school, among other topics.
“These kind of things, people get informed and it sort of broadens the way they maybe look at the world but definitely the way they look at Muslims,” he said.
In the show Hassan details his life as a Muslim in Canada and how things have changed for him and other Muslims in the past few years. He says we live in a very divisive society, the likes of which very few people alive have seen before. What was once a sort of blissful ignorance has been shattered, he said.
“There’s more hate now than ever and more avenues for hate so I think this show — fortunately for me, unfortunately for all of us – the show keeps gaining more sort of relevance and importance,” he said. “In 2016 when I was crafting the show Donald Trump wasn’t in power we didn’t know anything about the alt-right. As all these things have surfaced I find more people leave the show saying to me ‘thank you, I needed that.'”
Hassan calls the last few years of his comedy career particularly fulfilling, thanks in large part to Muslim, Interrupted. Still, he knows who his audience is and, more to the point, who it isn’t.
“The show’s called Muslim, Interrupted, it’s by a Muslim guy who also works for the CBC so I know who’s coming to the show,” he said. “I always say this, racists can be racists for free. They don’t have to pay $30 to come to see the show and disturb it. I’m always preaching to the choir a little bit.”
When he’s not on stage or working on his standup craft, Hassan can often be heard on the radio hosting Laugh Out Loud on CBC Radio and Sirius XM or as a frequent guest host of “q” on CBC. If he’s not on either of those career tracks he’s in front of the camera. In fact, Hassan was supposed to be in Medicine Hat with Muslim Interrupted about a year ago before his acting career hit a breakneck pace. He can been seen later this month in the new CBS series “Blood & Treasure” and later this year in feature films “MySpy” and Mafia, Inc.”
Each facet of his show business career has its perks, but Muslim, Interrupted holds a special place in his life.
“I feel good that people take something away (from the show) and after 13 years on stage if I can give a little value added, a little extra bonus, I’ll never be angry at that.”
Show time is at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at tixx.ca, by calling 403-502-8777 or in person at the Esplanade box office or the Medicine Hat Mall customer service desk.
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