Broad Appeal a monthly night of all-women comedy with sabrina jalees and others, hosted by martha chaves Wednesday (December 4) at Yuk Yuk's (224 Richmond West). $10. 416-967-6425. Chaves also hosts diamonds in the rough a weekly Tuesday open mike at the Looking Glass (582 Church). Free. 416-929-4779.
Fighting between Muslims and Christians may have rolled up the red carpet at the Miss World pageant in Nigeria, but that hasn't stopped local Muslim stand-up Sabrina Jalees from cracking a new joke."I think it's silly that a newspaper said the Prophet Mohammed would pick one of those contestants," she says slyly, "when it's obvious he's engaged to me."
When I ask her why there aren't more brown-skinned comics like her doing stand-up, she doesn't blink.
"I keep them in a closet so they don't get out and take my spot," she says. "They're down in the basement, wearing the hijab and duct tape on their mouths.
""But I wanna be a comic!'" she mimics.
""No, you're staying down!'"
Welcome to one of the most original voices on the scene. She's funny. She's bold. She's part Swiss and part Pakistani.
And she's only 17.
"When I first saw her I knew she was going to be really good. She's got presence," says Martha Chaves, the Nicaragua-born headliner who hosts the monthly Broad Appeal show where Jalees and a bevy of other funny women are appearing Wednesday (December 4). Chaves has also started up a weekly Tuesday-night open-mike night at the Looking Glass.
"And I'd never seen a brown girl with a mike."
Jalees, who lives with her parents in North York -- she's a straight-A student in the Claude Watson program at Earl Haig, plays hockey and teaches tennis -- stepped on her first comedy stage a year ago at a Yuk Yuk's amateur night.
"If I'd been to the show before, I would have put it off," she says through a mouthful of braces. "I didn't know there were actual professional comics going up. I was pissing my pants."
But after her five-minute set consisting mostly of jokes "about the way people talk to babies," Jalees got a standing ovation. And Yuks' Mark Breslin, who just happened to be at the club, told her to stick to it.
"She can do anything," says the scratchy-voiced Chaves, who's appeared in films like John Q and Don't Say A Word and who regularly mentors young comics.
"She could be president of the United States. That is, if they ever elected a Muslim girl."
Chaves, who's headed to Israel and Egypt in mid-December to entertain Canadian soldiers, knows how ridiculous that sounds. Especially now.
"Let's face it, the moderate agenda in the States is in the toilet," she says. "The right wing is taking over again. I think a lot of gains will be forgotten, even in entertainment. Americans have seen the bogeyman, and now there's permission to be racist. They are at war with ethnics.
"And believe me, Aryan comics aren't funny."email@example.com