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Ray Hanania's Comedy

for your Church, Mosque or Synagogue in the US, Canada, Israel or the Arab World

90 minutes of standup comedy
that will restore your faith in peace
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Review of Ray Hanania's comedy


SHOW REVIEWS |  MEDIA COVERAGE |   MidEast Speaker/Topics | Speaking Topics

Click to View CURRENT TV Documentary on Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour

HananiaGulfNewsDuring the past year, a group of extremist Muslims and secular Arab fanatics have launched a campaign of hatred targeting my efforts, lobbying Arab American and Muslim groups to not book my comedy act because I appeared with an "Israeli" comedian as a part of the "Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour and also because I advocate for peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on land-for-peace compromise and, more importantly, a rejection of violence. I reject violence and believe that Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims must do more to speak out against the violence and fanaticism that infects our community. Despite lies and distortions published by the "Electronc Intifida (which denies the Holocaust) and from Sousan Hammad, a pro-Jabha extremist at the University of Houston who advocates for the "one-state solution" (or the elimination of Israel and a rejection of peace based on compromise), I will continue to bring my message of peace through comedy to Arab, Muslim, Jewish and Christian Audiences not only in the United States and in Canada, but throughout Europe and the Middle East, audiences that continue to prove that despite the voices of extremists, moderation, pragmatism and reason dominate our communities. Peace is still a real possibility, despite the hatred. Here are some samplings of the comedy that the haters hate:


Ray Hanania Arab-Israeli-Jewish Comedy Show 2008 from Ray Hanania on Vimeo.

Hanania standup comedy (30 minutes) from a performance
at B'nai Yehuda Beth Shalom 3-22-08


A failed effort that fell very short

London Ch 4 Profile of Ray Hanania's
Palestinian-Israeli Comedy efforts

Ray Hanania on Tour mini-documentary by Israeli filmmaker Harvey Stein

Ray Hanania's Podcasts
Click Here

Download the video Power of Humor by Ray HananiaWATCH THIS CHANNEL 4 UK Program on Hanania and the IP Comedy Tour

Don't ignore goodness among Israelis and Palestinians July 2, 2007 Daily Herald. Read (PDF)?
Pursuing peace through humor is important, March 5, 2007. Read (PDF)?
Peace is possible between Palestinains and Israelis, We just need hope. Jerusalem Post June 23, 2007 Read (PDF)?

Aaron Freeman and Ray Hanania on "The Hour" with
George Stromboulopoulos, Canada TV

View/Download Power of Humor Power Point
An online presentation by Ray Hanania

Watch Hanania's Online Sampler Tape (2004) 12 Minutes ... Watch Hanania's Online Demo Tape (2002) 10 Minutes. (The best material is in the show, not on the web)

Review show structure & topics? (No foul language or bad words)


Comments about Ray Hanania

"If we can laugh together, we can live together ... Humor is one way to bring Palestinians and Israelis together and to fight the growing extremism that keeps them apart in both our communities. "  
-- Ray Hanania

News: Daily Northwestern May 23, 2007 (PDF)

WTTW Ch 11 Interview 1-19-07
Aaron Freeman and Ray Hanania appear on John Callaway's "Friday Nights" program on WTTW Channel 11 Friday Jan. 19, 2007, 7:30 PM

New Wall Street Journal on Clean Comedy & Hanania mention
Naples Tribune Dec. 7, 2006
Charlotte Observer Dec. 5, 2006

UpFront Radio Interview 11-17-06 (MP3)  

Hanania received the 2006 Best Ethnic Columnist Award from the New America Media for columns he wrote for This is an interview on UpFront Radio discusses the columns and the focus on the commonality of Arabs and Israelis, Jews and Palestinians. Audio only. 12 minutes in length. Broadcast in November 2006.

Ray Hanania is the most-written about Arab and Palestinian comedian in America today. His stand-up comedy act and Middle East satire have been featured by every national and most international media, including:

News Coverage: (sampling)
Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, NBC Nightly News, ABC Nightly News, Chicago Tribune, CNN, NaNa Israel TV, Channel 4 Israeli TV, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, Yedioth Ahronoth, Air America Radio, The Progressive Magazine, The Atlanta Jewish Times, The Wall Street Journal (twice), the New York Times, the Today Show, the Chicago Tribune, CNN Segment 7, WABC Radio New York, Michael Feldman's Wha'd ya know? radio program, the Voice of America, FOX News, Hannity & Colmes, the Donahue Show, MSNBC News, ABC TV, ABC Online, CBS This Morning, WBUR Boston radio, WNYC New York radio, ABC TV's 20/20, WBEZ/NPR radio, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Jim Bohannon Show, WLIE Radio NY, Curtis & Kuby MSNBC, Roe Conn & Garry Meier WLS Radio, Jack Hartford WLS Radio, and in more than 375 newspaper stories and more than 125 national radio & television interviews making him one of the most covered Arab American stand-up comedians in the country. ...

Comedy Festivals: (Sampling)
The Winnipeg Comedy Festival (2008) (, the Chicago Comedy Festival (2002).

Comedy Performances: (Sampling)
American friends of SHALVA (NY), Amnesty International (Dublin, Ireland), Houston World Affair's Council, KAM Isaiah Israel Synagogue, B'nai Yehuda Beth Shalom Synagogue, LIMUD LA, , B'nai Brith College Campuses/Hillel College Campuses hosted by MASA-Israel Journeys; Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour at Spertus Jewish College (400 people); IPCT at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, Canada (1,500 people); IPCT at Off-the-Wall Comedy Club in West Jerusalem; Ray Hanania at the Global Peace & Unity Conference in London; Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour (Haifa, Beershba, Tel Aviv, Ra'anana, West Jerusalem, East Jerusalem, Anglican School, Seeds of Peace, New Israel Fund, Ambassador East Hotel); Second City (Heeb Magazine), Northwest Indiana Islamic Center, Purdue University, American University of Beirut Alumni Association, Society of Professional Journalists 2006 Convention, American University of Dubai, USA; Northeastern University, Boston; Hillel/Arab Student Org, Emory College, Atlanta; Duke University/Friends of Israel/Freeman Center, Raleigh-Durham, NC; Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago; US Consulate, Jerusalem; PYALARA, Palestine; Truman College, Kirksville; Taste of Chicago 2004; Brandeis University; Marquette University; Loyola University; DePaul University; Northwestern University; Oregon Library Association; Northwestern Christian College; University of Missouri, KC; Zanies Comedy Clubs (Chicago & St. Charles); Riddles Comedy Club, Orland Park; The Chicago ComedyFest; Barrel of Laughs; Caroline's on Broadway, New York; The New York Comedy Club; The Comedy Spot; ASACA/ADC Detroit; Wayne State University; Seattle Arab Festival; Milwaukee Arab Festival; Dallas Film Festival; Americans for Peace Now (Hudson Theater); Seeds of Peace (Detroit); The University of Michigan; Cleveland AACCESS; Arab Community Center of Knoxville; National Society of Newspaper Columnists (Tucson); The University of Illinois YMCA Champaign; al-Khayam Show Lounge "Everyone Loves Abdullah" Chicago; the first-ever Arab ComedyFest in New York Nov. 2002.

University of Haifa, Israel; Northeastern University Boston, Duke University, IIT, Harvard University, Brandeis University, Emory College, University of Illinois, College of DuPage, University of Michigan, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Loyola, University of Chicago, Michigan Muslim Student Association, Harper College, Moraine Valley Community College, Independent Press Association, Community Media Workshop, Seattle Arab Community Center, Palestinian American Congress New York, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Society of Professional Journalists Chicago Headline Club ...

NPR profile of Ray and Alison Hanania's unique Arab-Jewish marriage     

  Listen to it?

Ray's Comedy Demo Tape (April 2002)

"Jackie, Is that you?" comedy skit
(Read pre-Mason controversy interview?)

Atlanta Jewish Times Feb. 26, 2004 -- Read it?

Newsweek Feature

Wall Street Journal Story

Why Arab American Comedy?

Ray Hanania's Arab-Jewish comedy act is intended to promote peace and understanding through humor, stand-up comedy and political and social satire.

Arab-Jewish Comedy at it's finest

View Promotional Flash Intro?

"It isn't enough to have an Arab and a Jew on stage. We need to break the barriers that divide Palestinians and Jews. That's why Ray Hanania's comedy is so important. He brings Palestinians and Jews together ... "
-- Rabbi David Steinberg

Hanania show structure and topics

I offer several kinds of performances:

Professional stand-up comedy: Original material written for performances at comedy clubs around the country. Feature Act (30 minutes) and Headliner (60 minutes)

One Man Show: A humorous introduction that puts the audience into the context of the Post-Sept. 11 world and the power of humor; 60 minutes of stand-up comedy and humor; concluding humor essay.

Titles: "Everyone loves Abdullah" ... "One Palestinian, One Piece "


Ethnicity in America -- the Arab/Muslim experience (60 % of material)
Palestinian-Jewish relations -- based on my marriage (30 % of material)
Politics -- commentary on everyday life experiences (5 % of material)
Miscellaneous topics -- everything funny under the sun (5 % of material)

Though I am Orthodox Christian (one of the few Palestinian Christian professional comedians, humorists and writers in the country) I also speak to the issues facing Muslims in America, mainly because we share the same stereotype and experience. Most Americans view me and other "Arabs" -- regardless of their religion -- as Muslim, an error on their part that I am very proud to defend. Though I am a Christian, I am Muslim by culture.

As a Palestinian peace activist, I also use humor to help Palestinian, Jewish, Arab and Israeli audiences recognize the humanity that exists behind the tragic headlines we face in the Middle East conflict. My wife and son are Jewish and I understand the Jewish faith.

Ray Hanania's comedy is based in a history of professional humor writing, beginning with his columns in the Chicago Sun-Times lampooning his experiences through airport security in the 1980s and 1990s, and his humor book, I'm Glad I Look Like a Terrorist: Growing Up Arab in America. They also include humor columns written for publications like Newsweek Magazine (Nov. 1998) and the more.

Ray Hanania
A conspiracy of comedy ...
Email Ray Hanania with your comments

Humor is what we need

As the events of the Middle East continue to spiral into worsening bloodshed and violence, and in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and destruction of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers, we all need to take a break.  It's not that we have to pretend the violence isn't taking place. But we need to counter the tragedy. We also need to find new ways to break through the divisions that separate Arabs and Jews. seattleThe best way to do that is through humor. And, I've decided to turn to humor both as a self-healing medium to ease the personal trauma, but also as a way to soften the hatred that is consuming some in the American public.

My stand-up comedy routine doesn't cross the line and I don't make fun of religion. But, we Arab Americans need to soften our own image for Americans. We can't expect them to shoulder the burden to better understand us. We have to do our part. And nothing is more effective in reaching the hearts and minds of Americans than humor.Many of the jokes address stereotypes that already exist about Arab Americans. For example, I jest about Berqas (complete head-to-toe clothing covering for women) and also Honor Killings, a practice common in many countries including the Arab World. I ridicule these because they are wrong and are not sacred.The humor is intended to soften that view, to take the edge off of the hatred as a means of breaking down hatred, negative stereotypes, misunderstanding, but more importantly, to show the American people that we, Arab Americans, have a sense of humor. We are not fanatics who live for murder and killing, but people who are like you and me. We are no different.I HAVE TWO ROLE MODELS:One of my role models is Jerry Seinfeld, who is a Jewish-Arab comedian. His mother is from a Jewish family from Damascus, Syria and grew up in the Syrian Jewish community in Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. After the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, Seinfeld did several comedy appearances to help raise nearly $1.9 million for Mayor Guiliani's Twin Tower's Fund. In his biography, Seinfeld notes "It (comedy) identifies us as Americans ... what I would call classic American behavior, an act of defiance and a way of striking back. Ironic humor ... people coming back with a vengeance, returning to our lives with great glee." Additionally, Seinfeld flopped on his first stand-up .. but went on to great things ... another comedian I admire is David Brenner who I once interviewed as a reporter writing the celebrity column for the Chicago Sun-Times "Page 10."My second role is Danny Thomas. As a child, I remember our family scheduling a gathering in front of the TV to watch Danny Thomas, the only Arab American on television in the 50s and 60s. He was a tremendous role model. His humor was clean, funny and despite being restricted by the times, he still managed to inject Arab American issues. The character of his Uncle Tannous always prompted a healthy laugh.All my jokes are original, written by me. They are delivered respectfully, but without inhibition. The jokes I say in jest are now said in anger and are harmful in a far greater way than the humor I offer. I figure, maybe if an American sees me laughing at a stereotype about Arabs, they might laugh too, and the stereotype might not be as important to them as it was. If I laugh about it, why not them too?I will update this page regularly with information on dates and locations for my stand-up comedy performances, and will also post related articles and columns for your enjoyment.Humor, by itself, is not the answer. But, it can make a difference for many Americans on how they view Arab Americans, Arab culture and even Arab causes. We need to present ourselves as something other than politically emotional Arab terrorists.Nothing can make a person cry more, than humor!

(Ray Hanania is a veteran journalist, media consultant and a leader in Chicago's Arab American community.)



Boston NPR Radio, Fri. Sept. 27, 2002
... Listen to the Interview?


Ray Hanania performing at Zanies Comedy Club, Chicago, 1548 N. Wells Street,
April 11, 2002

WGN TV Interview Friday Morning, April 12, 2002 View video?


We have got to get Arabs and Jews to stop killing each other ... We're both emotional people. One day, we're hugging and kissing. The next day, we're bombing and bashing.

We go from humping each other's legs to bashing each other's brains. We need to get back to humping each other's legs.

Jackie Mason. Have the courage to call me. I don't mind trading punches for punch lines, and I prefer that to violence and death. But, we can do even more.

Arab American comedians are taking a leaf from the book of Jewish American comedy, and how it was successful in fighting anti-Semitism. The Borscht Belt is famous and there are some great comics, the most recent ones being Jerry Seinfeld and David Brenner.

I am proud to be involved in helping to define, with other Arab and Muslim American comedians, the new Baba Ghanoush Belt! But like the rest of the Arab and Muslim community, serious divisions exist. Some comics don't recognize the power of strength in networking and are upset that other "Arab" comedians have risen. Someone who bad mouths someone is actually reflecting themselves in a bad way.

I'm happy to do what I can to help everyone. Just ask.


The Baba Ghanoush Belt
(the Arab American "Borscht Belt")


Read References & Comedy Reviews?

Arab American PAC Dinner
OCT 29, 2009

Winnipeg Free Press April 2008

First ever New York Comedy Festival in 2002

Comedian Carl Kozlowski on Ray Hanania

Chicago Sun-Times on "Chicago Jokes" 1-14-08

JERUSALEM POST: Comedy in Jerusalem, 12-30-07 Pg 1, Pg 2

Now available online: BackStage with
the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour

"It is important that Palestinians and Israelis stand up together to confront the growing animosity between our two peoples, to denounce extremism and hatred, to act to reduce the animosity between our two peoples. And while we can have a healthy and energetic and even passioned debate about the issues, we need not be disagreeable in our disagreement. Palestinians must not resort to anti-Semitism in arguing their legitimate concerns, and Israelis must not be defamatory in denouncing criticism of Israel as being anti-Semitic. We must stand for one principle and apply it fairly to both sides and when we do, we will contribute towards bringing peace to both our peoples."

-- Ray Hanania, January 3, 2004

Israeli-Palestinian Comedians "fight" Is it real?


Hanania and Freeman perform at the Society of Professional Journalists Convention in Chicago August 2006

IN THE NEWS: Holy Land Humor in the Pioneer Press Feature Sept. 7, 2006

IN THE NEWS: Radio Interview in St. Louis with Hanania and Freeman. Listen?

Read Aaron Freeman's & Sharon Rosenzweig's Comic Torah

Call Ray Hanania at 312-933-9855
or email him at

 View this 9 Minute Comedy Sampler Now?

NOW ONLINE: Watch the full 30 Minute Interview with Freeman, Shea & Hanania

Watch Hanania's Online Sampler Tape (2004) 12 Minutes
Watch Hanania's
Online Demo Tape (2002) 10 Minutes

Also check out our friend, Comedian Sherif
WEB: Middle East comedian ... VIDEO ONLINE:View Video Sampler?

"The Arab Woody Allen"

Ray Hanania is an award-winning journalist, nationally syndicated columnist, author and one of the country's few Arab (Palestinian) American stand-up comedians and satirists. He is the only Palestinian to write a humor AND serious column for a web site owned by a major Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth's (2004-2007) and now writes for the Jerusalem Post Newspaper and

Hanania made his mark in journalism as a hard-hitting Chicago City Hall reporter (1976 through 1992). But he always had a flare for the lighter side. In 1988, he authored one of the nation's first humor profiles on growing up Arab in America for Chicago Magazine
"Ya Habibi."

In 1996, he published the humor book, "YA HABIBI: Growing up Arab in America." The humor in his book helped start some of the Arab community's first comedians. In 1998, he authored a humor column for NEWSWEEK Magazine lampooning the profiling of Arabs at airports. His most recent humor book is "Slice of Life," a collection of his award winning humor columns.

Hanania has performed his unique stand-up comedy at Taste of Chicago, Caroline's on Broadway, Brandeis University, and at Arab festivals in Seattle, Milwaukee and Dallas.

He is one of the most covered Arab comedians in the country. His comedy addresses a wide range of topics including an Arab and Muslim theme regarding growing up Arab in America. And, Hanania lampoons his real-life marriage to his wife who is Jewish. The comedy topics expand far beyond ethnic humor. They include topics from his years as a political reporter covering Chicago City Hall and regional American politics, to everyday life featured in his many humor columns published in newspapers around the country.

Hanania avoids using foul language or four-letter words in his act, which sets him apart from some other known Arab and non-Arab professional comedians. Positive reviews of his show are widespread.

After performing some 30 shows at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago, he was removed from the show in August 2002 when Jewish comedian and conservative columnist Jackie Mason refused to perform with a Palestinian American comedian. The owners of Zanies Comedy Club, who tried to exploit the rare Palestinian-Jewish combination, contributed to the conflict that ensued. (Read the pre-controversy interview with Hanania before he was attacked by Mason's supporters.)

While some Arab comedians put down other Arabs and Muslims for pursuing comedy after Sept. 11th, Hanania believes that the world is a big place and there is more than enough room for competition. He works to help other Arabs and Muslims enter stand-up comedy, humor writing and satire. He has dedicated his life to defending the rights of Arabs and Muslims in America.

He is proud to be have been a supporter of the first annual New York Arab ComedyFest. He often partners with Egyptian American comedian Sherif and also Jewish American comedian Aaron Freeman in shows.

Hanania hails from an Orthodox Christian family. His father is from Jerusalem and his mother is from Bethlehem.

Call and check on booking him today.
eFax 708-575-9078

If you are a producer looking to script a TV sitcom on an Arab-Jewish marriage with all the potential humor involved, contact me because "Everyone Loves Abdullah" can work!


to book Ray Hanania today for stand-up comedy
and discussions on Middle East peace


NPR profile of Ray and Alison Hanania
Listen to it?

Ha’aretz - November 2, 2004 (pdf)

Atlanta Jewish Times - February 27, 2004 (pdf)

Gulf News April 27, 2006. Read Feature?

Gulf News: Entertainment Can Change Americans
Oct. 26, 2004

Atlanta Jewish Times
- Israel Film Festival Preview Jan. 2006

Emory College Performance for Hillel
and Arab Student Cultural Association
April 7, 2005

Profiled in The Progressive Magazine, Dec. 2004 Issue
View PDF?

This Week in Palestine November 2004 Read story?
This Week in Palestine - November 2004 (pdf)

University of Chicago Maroon newspaper
on Comedy for Peace March 5, 2004

Daily Northwestern Performance,
Ray Hanania, Aaron Freeman Jan. 15, 2004

Read profile in Stars Magazine
Dubai, United Arab Emirates Magazine

Read humor profile in the
Palm Beach Post Newspaper

Challenges of being Arab American

NPR Radio Boston
OnPoint Interview
Fri. Sept. 27, 2002
... listen to the interview?

CNN Segment 7 with Aaron Brown
Jan. 2, 2003

Arab American Business Magazine
feature on Arab Comedians in New York


Hanania interview onMichael Feldman's
"Whad'Ya Know"
Radio Show Sat. Sept. 14, 2002 Listen Interview?

Today Show View Interview?
August 28, 2002 (MPEG)

US Dept. of State report on Hanania humor
Oct. 2, 2002

Salt Lake Tribune Newspaper Feature Nov. 16, 2002

WGN TV Interview, April 12, 2002 View video?

Interview with HananiaWhy Humor?

WBEZ Report on Jackie Mason banning
Hanania from Zanies Comedy Club, Aug. 2002

Wall Street Journal story: Sept. 18, 2002

ABCNEWS.COM, Article on Arab Comedians Read It?

WILL Radio Interview, July 11, 2002

NEWSWEEK, April 22 issueRead story?

Eagle Newspaper (College) Sept. 10, 2002

The last laugh: As America finds itself in the throes of a national tragedy, what place is there for comedy? BY CHRIS WRIGHT , (published at, Oct. 11 - 18, 2001)
Read this article?

Why Comedy?
An Interview withRay Hanania on comedy August 2002

Ray Hanania on why a humor routine?

E! OnLIne Report on Hanania-Mason flap

Guardian Online Article

NIU Northern Star Interview

NIU Northern Star Editorial

Windy City Pundit website

Fight against Media bias

Guardian Article

IWON Page 6

WBEZ Audio Reports

Editorial Sept. 2002

United Kingdom Comedy Guide Sept. 2002

Curtis & Kuby MSNBC TV Show Sep. 2002

Phil Donahue Show Aug. 30, 2002

Emory College Performance for Hillel and Arab Student Cultural Association April 7, 2005

Profiled in The Progressive Magazine, Dec. 2004 Issue
View PDF?

Air America Radio, The Laura Flanders Show

Interview in THIS WEEK IN PALESTINE, November 2004
November 2004

Pre-Jackie Mason Controversy Interview (before it was distorted by Mason and Zanies management).

Read feature in HAARETZ, the Israeli Daily Newspaper
Nov. 2, 2004

Daily Southtown Feature on Comedy for Peace (TM) fundraiser at Riddles Comedy Club (Feb. 25, 2004)
Feb. 20, 2004

Read feature in the Seattle University Spectator Online
October 26, 2003

Read Feature in New York Post
New York Post Oct. 13, 2003

Read profile in Stars Magazine
Dubai, United Arab Emirates Magazine

Read humor profile in the
Palm Beach Post Newspaper

Hanania joins other Arab comedians at New York Comedy Club, & performs at Caroline's on Broadway (Nov. 2002) View story and pictures?

Review of Arab Comedy Night in New York Nov. 3, 2002 by LebNet

Arab American Business Magazine feature
on Arab Comedians in NY

Cleveland Plain Dealer Column on comedy
Friday Oct. 25, 2002

CNN Feature on Arab Comedy, Jan. 2, 2003: View Video?

The Wall Street Journal ... standup comedy review: Sep. 18, 2002

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs review November 2002

My favorite jokes

What makes funny funny?

Ray Hanania is available for appearances, shows, corporate business discussions on how to use humor in presentations, speeches and seminars; and the popular 2 hour presentation, "Understanding the Middle East from one Extreme to Another"

The Shah of Arab Humor; the Sheik of Middle East Jokes; the King of Arab American Comedy ...
(c) 2002 Ray Hanania, All Rights Reserved

... just off the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List ... on leave from a stint at Camp X-Ray in Cuba ... the man you hope isn't sitting next to you on your vacation flight. Hanania's comic role model is Arab comedian Jerry Seinfeld, yes the son of a Syrian Arab mother who is Jewish from Damascus, Syria, Betty Hesney.