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February 15, 2012

Super(E)man! Standing Up for the Little Guy, Rooting for the Underdog; Bigots, Misogynists, Haters Beware
by Liz McKeon - 0

By WICF Contributor Kate Conner

Watch out bad guys, Montreal comedian Eman is coming for you. She is on a mission, a mission to SAVE THE WORLD!! OK, scratch that, maybe not so much to "save" the world, per se, but she IS trying to make it better … and kinder … and smarter; all through the power of comedy. YAY!

A Muslim Arab woman raised in Canada, building a comedy career, Eman
knows a thing or two about struggle.

Eman (née Eman El-husseini) was born to Palestinian parents in Kuwait. As unwelcome strangers in a strange land, Eman recounts, "In Kuwait, we were second class citizens. My family was not allowed to own property. Kuwait was never home for us." Fortunately, her parents had bigger plans, and at the age of 10, her family made the move and settled in Canada.

In Montreal she did feel welcomed. She remembers being "treated like Canadian's instantly," but quickly learned about new kinds of discrimination: namely, Islamphobia, "women aren't funny" syndrome and a combination of the two. Most women in comedy experience some form or another of "women aren't funny" syndrome, but as an Arab woman, Eman also faces an "Arabs aren't funny" bias that is not uncommon in North America.

As a young girl she remembers imitating TV shows and being the class clown. Getting people to laugh at such a young age was a thrill and she knew then that she wanted to someday be in entertainment.  "I always wanted to act and entertain, but I hid this and was a bit ashamed of it. Everyone wants to be a celebrity, why [should I be] any different?"  She eventually got over it and took acting classes. "I was so terrible at it," she says, so she made the decision to give comedy a shot.

Her entry into comedy was a cautious one. Her first step was taking a job at the iconic Comedyworks in downtown Montreal. There she worked as a waitress for over a year before taking the next step and getting on stage herself. Now, five short years later, she has performed all over the world, on stage and on TV.

In addition to her stand-up work, Eman is a prolific producer. With shows like "Kosher Jokes for the Halaladays" (an annual holiday show), which brings Muslims and Jews together by focusing on their similarities, she is establishing herself as one of Montreal's top independent comedy producers.

In August 2011, Eman organized "She's Canadian, Eh", Montreal's first women's comedy showcase, to help draw attention to the vast array of talented female comics working in Canada. (This show will return from August 2-4, 2012.)

BOOM (Best Of Open Mic), a monthly show, running consistently since 2007, was Eman's first production. BOOM highlights the talents of Montreal's newest faces and gives young up and comers an opportunity to perform in front of "real," weekend audiences.

Reflecting on her work, Eman understands her role in broader society. "Comedy is something that minorities have always used to make a connection and project a message," she explains. "People are more likely to remember what you are saying if you say it through comedy."  Lucky for us, Eman is leaving her mark and in the process making the world a better place.

Eman can be found at and on Twitter at @Eman_Comedian.

WICF contributor Kate Conner is a long time comedy nerd who recently took the plunge onto the stage and into the spot light. Kate can be found performing at a wide variety of different venues including Comedyworks, The Comedy Nest, her living room, and the hospital psych ward. Originally from Minnesota, Kate, her husband and their four kids now live in Montréal.

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