Muslim And Jewish Comedy Night with rasul somji, alex nussbaum, al hassam, enis esmer and host noam rosen presented by MidEastOptimist.com at Clinton's (693 Bloor West), Friday (November 2), 9 pm. $5. 416-535-9541. Rating: NNNNN
Noam Rosen is determined to Rosen cantsbring about peace in the Middle East. And he wants to use comedy to do it.
Tomorrow (November 2) he hosts a night of Muslim and Jewish comedy, a project he's wanted to oversee since the summer. After September 11 it feels more relevant than ever.
"There's a lot of societal tension around this, and I hope the night contributes to a lessening of that."
There are no limits on what any of the comics -- among them Rasul Somji, Alex Nussbaum, Al Hassam and Enis Esmer -- can joke about. But Rosen, a member of Sunday night's Pirate Video Cabaret team at Clinton's, explains that no one will be offended.
Hold on. Comedy that's non-offensive -- isn't that an oxymoron?
"You can be funny without being offensive," he says. "We're comedians. We're part of the culture, but we're outsiders. We're abrasive at the best of times."
He pauses, considers.
"Listen, if someone wants to be offended, they will be. But the tone of the show won't be offensive."
Over the past month and a half, comedy fans have wondered if and how the bombings could be joked about. Comics were tentative at first, but now just about everyone has a bin Laden joke in his or her arsenal. The word "Taliban" has become a punchline.
"The comics who are performing have sympathy for all the victims everywhere," says Rosen. "It'll be interesting to see where they go, how they perceive things differently from the mainstream."
One of Rosen's ongoing peace efforts is maintaining the Web site Mideastoptimist.com, where he posts positive-thinking articles from all over the Middle East.
"The Web site's something I do to have a place for people who are sick of the negativity in the mainstream media," says Rosen, who's dealt with media manipulation before in the comedy Noam Chomsky Is An Asshole.
"Give me $1 million and a year and I'd fix the Middle East."