Maz Jobrani on His ‘Pandemic Warrior’ Comedy Special & Shooting in Dubai
Maz Jobrani aims to do more than garner a laugh or two from his new Peacock stand-up special, Pandemic Warrior. The comedian hopes to broaden his audience’s world view. And as the first American comic to shoot a special in Dubai, there’s a good chance he will.
Jobrani filmed the show in December 2019, and when COVID delayed the show’s release, he decided to change the name from Peaceful Warrior and add content while on lockdown at home in California.
Ahead of the January 28 premiere on Peacock, Jobrani talks with TV Insider about shooting in the United Arab Emirates city, and how he stayed busy in 2020.
Where did the original name come from?
Maz Jobrani: When I would do Trump jokes, his supporters in the audience would react very aggressively. Early on I yelled back, and we started yelling at each other. Before you know it, the show was derailed. It got me thinking: I’m going to tai chi the guy and let him speak, and be peaceful about it. It ended up being one of the best strategies I employed.
So, why Dubai?
One of my objectives has been to show how similar we are, whether it’s music, comedy, or just life. I went to the Middle East in 2007 as part of an “Axis of Evil” comedy tour. What was amazing was the jokes translated. The people couldn’t have been nicer. This was in the middle of an Iraq war and Al Qaeda. We think all these people are screaming “Death to America!” all day. Do you know how egocentric that is, to think people are waking up and thinking about America every day? That’s not happening.
Most of the people in Egypt, Lebanon, and other countries are trying to go to work, earn a living, feed their family, like we are. I think that a lot of Americans aren’t aware of this because of the lack of travel. I think it’s important for Americans to see this — not just my special, but that there’s a diversity of people and opinions and ideas.
What’s it been like at home not being able to tour this past year?
I’ve become the handyman, tech guy, the dishwasher, the dog walker. I did electrical work the other day. It’s amazing you can YouTube anything. The kids are at home Zooming. My wife works at home on Zoom. I keep saying every time I walk out into the living room that I used to have a family, now it looks like an internet startup company. But it’s about trying to enjoy the moment. It’s great to be present.
I hear you’ve also been running.
Five to six miles every other day. I made a goal to run a 10-mile run the day of the Pandemic Warrior premiere. I’m going to encourage people to join me and do the run, too, and donate money toward an organization. There’s an organization called the International Medical Corps. They go to different places affected by disasters.
And what else have you been working on?
I’ve been doing my podcast called Back to School with Maz Jobrani. My kid would ask me questions I don’t know the answers to, so I thought rather than Googling them, I will just bring on experts to teach us. There is an animation project we’ve also been developing with Courteney Cox involved. It’s about an immigrant family that moves to America and loves America, but America doesn’t love them back. We’re hoping to find a home for that one. So, I’m always busy. Always writing. Always creating.
Pandemic Warrior, January 28, Peacock