Egyptian-born, So-Cal-raised comic Ahmed Ahmed joins John Caparulo, Bret Ernst and Sebastian Maniscalco to headline Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show. He sat down with NOW to talk about the show, playing a terrorist in movies and the need to say something funny.
Do people expect you always to be on?
If someone says she’s a hairdreser, people are like, “What do you think of this style for me?” If you’re a doctor, it’s “I have this pain right here.” With me, it’s “Say something funny.” I was travelling through an airport after 9/11; when the woman at the ticket counter stopped me to do a security check, I was going to miss my flight. She asked what I did, and I said, “Believe it or not, I’m a stand-up comic,” and she said, “Say something funny.” I said, “I just graduated from flight school,” and she goes, “Yeah.…”
You filmed the Wild West Show two years ago. What’s happened since?
We were just happy to have a job for 30 days. And I wasn’t getting a lot of traction; agents weren’t knocking on my door. But once it got a theatrical release, it made a difference. I’m going to Australia with Russell Peters. I did a part in Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr. I play a bad guy – imagine that. And I did a comedy with Adam Sandler called You Don’t Mess With The Zohan.
How is performing in Middle America different than the Middle East?
It’s almost exactly the same. We went to Kuwait and were told you cannot talk about God, you cannot talk about religion, you cannot talk about sex or politics. Can we curse? You get two “fucks.” Then we’re told no “fucks” but you can say “screw you.” The material does go over better there. It’s like when a black comic performs for a black audience – there’s a relationship to the material.
What was it like being Vince Vaughn’s roommate?
Vince is like a force of nature. He’s the ringleader. He took off his movie star cap and jumped on the bus and became a circus performer with us. You walk around with Vince, it’s like he’s Jesus Christ – people want to touch him. It’s surreal.
Which joke do you wish you’d written?
Bret does the joke about his gay brother coming out of the womb: “I’m never going back in there.” And Caparulo does a joke about getting stuck on a plane for 90 minutes when it was a 22-minute flight: “Why don’t you just drive the plane up the freeway? We’re missing a stewardess? I’ll push the drink cart – let’s go.”
Were there jokes that you wish had made it into the film?
I do one about how after September 11, hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims went up over 1,000 per cent, which still makes us fourth behind blacks, gays and Jews. What do we have to do? We can’t even win in hatred.
Read a review of VINCE VAUGHN'S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW here.