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Jan. 26, 2006

Finding "Comedy in the Muslim World"

by Ariana McLean, Managing Photo Editor
Those darn Americans, they're always messing everything up. Even if attempting to create peace between nations they've never been on best of terms with—India and Pakistan, for instance. In "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World," Albert Brooks (director and star) hits a funny bone, poking fun at the post 9-11 US State Department and Federal Government.

Albert Brooks, playing himself, an old-school, dry-humored, out of work comedian, is summoned by the federal government to serve his country. He is given a special task: to find out what makes Muslims laugh and write it up in a 500-page report. With two incapable "assistants" (John Carroll Lynch and Jon Tenney) and a perky Indian woman (Sheetal Sheth) who soon joins this kooky team, Brooks attempts this seemingly impossible and ludicrous task.

From the second he sits down in his coach class Air-India plane seat to begin his overseas journey, nothing goes quite right. He arrives without a chauffeur (his assistants say the ambassador is "sick") and takes the regular taxi through New Delhi. At first it seems that Brooks is a victim of the substandard accommodations and knotty situations issued by the State Department. Yet, as the movie continues, it becomes evident that this misfortune is a satire of the oblivious mannerisms of Americans. For instance, on a tourist trip, Brooks actually walks right by the Taj Mahal and misses it.

The wit that emerges from Brooks and Sheeth is not slapstick, but rather subtle. Sheeth plays the straight man —well, straight woman—to Brooks in pure paradoxical humor. In Sheeth's eagerness to please her employer, she tries desperately to discern sarcasm in Brooks' everyday humor.

Ironically, when Brooks tries to be funny, he is only met with dumbstruck, confused faces. At his New Delhi comedy performance, he drowns in a sea of blank stares. His friends try and comfort him, but his pride keeps him from realizing the embarrassment and failure in his endeavor. The only people he does succeed to make laugh in this "Muslim World" are a bunch of stoned Pakistani comedians he meets illegally in the middle of the night.

Brooks may be "looking for comedy in the Muslim World" but the real humor comes from the ignorance and blatant arrogance of Americans he satirizes.

"Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World" (98 minutes) is rated PG-13 for drug content and brief strong language and is playing at United Artists Bethesda 10, Landmark Theaters E Street Cinema, and Lowes Cineplex Georgetown.

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  • ur sco buddy on January 26, 2006 at 8:52 AM
    Great job Ariana!
    this sounds like a really funny movie worth watching.
    can't wait to read your next article! ;)
  • ankhi on January 31, 2006 at 8:48 PM
    yaaay ariana! great article. i wanna see it now.
    i'm applying to SC, an i'm positively terrified. augh.
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