Enter your Email

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mocking Humor

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

Before the first Reminder video was filmed, I was trying to gather ideas of what I should talk about. I started googling the web looking to see what other Muslim Video Bloggers had done but I wasn't able to find any Muslim Video bloggers. My next step was to search for videos on the web, so I started looking for Muslim videos on YouTube. Unfortunately, I came across some really stupid videos mocking the ibadah actions of Islam and what surprised me was that these clips were made by Muslims.

Many comedian, when they forget their material, start "working the crowd" and often times start mocking the person which is unfortunately. Trying to do speak about issues while mixing humor into your words is challenge but keeping everything halal is even the bigger challenge. Alhamdulillah I keep away from such actions on stage and if the only way to make people smile was by mocking my audience, then I would rather just hang up my mic but its not worth it.

I much rather make fun of the stupid things that we do that conflict with Islam with the hopes that people will be ashamed of doing it in the future.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Looking to get married?
Visit Baba Ali's Muslim Marriage site halfourdeen.com

Thursday, July 24, 2008

So what did you do this weekend?

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

What did you do this weekend? Umm....

Caught red-eye to New York at 10pm
Hard falling asleep on the plane when your battling for the middle divider with the person next to you and your head is bobbing back & forth like a bobble head while you attempt to sleep sitting up. Note: Those life preserver neck cushions they sell at their airports don't really make it much easier to fall asleep

Arrived at 6am
Couldn't find private place to pray fajr so I prayed @ Airport Terminal. For a few minutes I became "that guy" at the airport. "Hey is 'that guy' on our plane?" No, I'm not so stop freaking out.

Checked in hotel and caught up on sleep
Got knocked out!

Got call from Belal (my ride) and he offered to pick me up some NY Pizza
I've heard about NY Pizza but have never tried it. Actually, I've had pizza in LA called "NY Pizza" but that doesn't really count.

Arrive at Venue at went to dressing room
Not much to do in a dressing room since I'm already dressed

Walked to Green Room
Find everyone munching away. The green room is where all the food and snacks is. Plenty of sandwiches, chocolates, and performers.

Check out stage and seating
Found Zain Bhikha rehearsing (down to earth bro) and noticed how different it looks when entertainers are performing in casual clothes vs their stage clothes. Noticed venue and stage looked professional.

Figured it would be a good idea to blog this experience so I went back to dressing room to pick up camera and quickly recorded this:

Figured I didn't record enough so I press the recorded button and again:

Had Discussions with volunteer staff about Islam, Comedy, & Filmmaking in Green Room

1hr Before Showtime and I'm not sure what to talk about on stage

30min Before Showtime and I'm still not sure

15min Before Showtime and I notice that the audience is barely trickling in

Plenty of tickets were sold but many Muslims are on Muslim Standard Time. If you've ever been to a Middle Eastern wedding, you know what I'm talking about.

Show starts and I talk about Muslim Standard Time - Audience Laughs

Performed Standup for about 30 minutes - Great Crowd

Left Stage and went back to the Green Room

This time I brought one of the board games I recently invented and I played it with the volunteer staff. It was a lot of fun.

Show ends - Met and took pictures with audience
Belal, who is a talented director and runs Leechon Films, filmed hours of this backstage experience.

Venue closes - Everyone is in parking lot trying to arrange rides back to Hotel

At this point, I haven't slept well but Belal made a good pitch on not sleeping and driving to NJ to have the late-late dinner

Arrived at Hotel - Changed Clothes - Told Daud (Tour Manager) that we're leaving (so he doesn't think I disappeared in the middle of the night). Belal convinces him to come to (they didn't even know each other's name but hey..its a crazy night)
Now there is three people traveling to another state just to get a bite to eat. Yeah but there are plenty of places to eat in NY right? Yeah, but (a) I'm not from here so I can't tell where I can get a bite to eat and where I can get shot (b) I don't have car and Belal does (c) I'm going to be blogging this so it sounds like an adventure especially since we have to be back by 4am so we can catch our flight

Belal drives (like someone who just got finishing watching the fast and the furious) and nobody dares to close their eyes (except for the turns) I think I said the words "Watch out!" a few times

Arrived in Jersey. Ate. Left.

Belal drove again (like a police officer chasing bad guys but there are no bad guys)

Arrived at Hotel at 4:45. Pray Fajr. Take Shower. Leave 10 minutes later to Airport for next show (note: no sleep yet)

Arrive at airport - Can't check in online since the brown man is the new black man Prayed Fajr Jammat at Airport (nobody freaked out)

Slept like a baby from New York to Dallas on plane

Checked in at Hotel in Dallas and then went to next Venue

Workout in Hotel gym with Shahob from 786
Talk about social issues impacting the Ummah while lifting weights.

Took shower and left for venue - Went to green room to found 786 singing there
Not sure why it called the green room. There is just food there (plus a bunch of brothers singing)

Performed again and the audience was once again great. Had lots of fun on stage

Met audience - Took pics with audience - Went back to Hotel and slept at about midnight

Woke up 3:50 to catch shuttle back to airport. Arrived at 7:40am. Left for work.

Unlike most of my co-workers, I usually have an interesting experience during the weekend.

Ali: So how was your weekend?

Bob: Not bad. Took the dog for a walk and watched batman. What did you do?

Ali: Flew to NY, drove to NJ, and then flew to Dallas. Met some interesting people. Made some people laugh. Flew back this morning and drove to work. Other than that....nothing much.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Looking to get married?
Visit Baba Ali's Muslim Marriage site halfourdeen.com

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Baba Ali Performing in Los Angeles *FREE* tickets!

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

It funny because I travel around the world doing events but I have yet to do an event in a major venue in my local area. This weekend I'll be doing my thing in Los Angeles and today I learned that the event will be FREE. This is what the Venue looks like:

and this is what I see what I'm on stage:

For tickets, please visit this link. I hope to see all there InshAllah.

**Note: They actually try to start on time unlike many other events so if you're coming, make sure you come on time. Otherwise, you'll miss out.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Looking to get married?
Visit Baba Ali's Muslim Marriage site halfourdeen.com

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My crazy schedule....

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

When I was invited to speak at an event in Saudi, they bought my ticket the day before (even though they were able to buy it weeks ahead of time). I checked expedia, and learned that the same ticket cost nearly $9,000. I was just amazed how one could pay so much especially when it was completely unnecessary. I found them a ticket just a few weeks ago for about $2200 but yet they waited.

I was just looking at my calendar for July and August and noticed that I've been gone quite a bit. Being at the airport can get boring but Alhamdulillah, the experience of meeting new people in all these cities I've visited has been priceless. I've been truly amazed on how many people have watched these videos.

July 4th - Hartford Connecticut
July 19th - Jamaica, New York
July 20th - Dallas, Texas
July 26th - San Jose, California
July 27th - Costa Mesa, California

Aug 2nd - Houston, Texas
Aug 9th - San Diego
Aug 22nd - Orlando Florida
Aug 23rd - New York
Aug 30th - Dallas (not yet confirmed)
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Looking to get married?
Visit Baba Ali's Muslim Marriage site halfourdeen.com

Friday, July 18, 2008

Evening of Inspiration Tour - First Stop - New York

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

I'm on the Evening of Inspiration Tour, which is a series of benefit concerts to raise money for children around the world. This will be the first time I'm touring 786 and Zain Bhikha so it sounds like an interesting event. I'll be sure to pack my camera just in case this tour becomes another adventure.

This weekend, we'll be in Jamaica, New York (Saturday) and Dallas, Texas (Sunday). For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit: http://www.irw.org/inspiration/
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Looking to get married?
Visit Baba Ali's Muslim Marriage site halfourdeen.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Being Muslim and Politically Incorrect

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

In some of my videos, I will make fun of the cultural things we do that take us away from our Deen with the hopes that people will become shy of doing such actions in the future. If I could only get a dollar for each time a wave of Hijabs go up and eyes go down when the someone starts off the wedding ceremony with the recitation of the Holy Qu'ran. You would think the believe that Allah (swt) is only watching us whenever the Qu'ran is being recited.

One wedding I went to, the girl didn't have her hijab nearby so she put a napkin on her head. I'm thinking to myself, you must be kidding? Am I the only person noticing this? Maybe this type of thing happens so much that we have become immune to it or maybe nobody has the courage to bring it up because they don't want to be blacklisted from the Muslim wedding list. I've been one of those people and then one day, I didn't care anymore about being politically correct and that's why I brought up this and the many other issues in my videos. It's funny because the wedding that starts off with a recitation of powerful Surah reminding us of our Deen, ends with people dancing like there is no tomorrow on the dance floor. Anyways, my point isn't about the weddings but rather the overall numbness that we have adopted with it comes to certain Islamic issues.

I think its important to bring up issues but you have to do it in a specific way. My strategy is to bring up certain issues in lighthearted way with the hopes that it will capture the attention of the people InshAllah.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Looking to get married?
Visit Baba Ali's Muslim Marriage site halfourdeen.com

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why is Muslim Comedy is the hardest thing I have ever done......

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

I have had the opportunity to try so many different things in life but I have to admit that standing in front of a thousand people and trying to do standup as a Muslim is the hardest thing I have every done....period. It is so much different than giving a speech because the audience is expecting to make them laugh.

One interesting thing that I have learned is that some of the most funniest people on stage are rather dull off stage. Every group of friends has a funny person who everyone would assume would just kill on stage (FBI note: the word "kill" in the standup world means to do well on stage so please don't tap my phone). The fact is that just because you're the funny guy among your friends doesn't mean you can make people laugh on stage.

For all those who don't know, I got into standup comedy thing when I accepted an invitation to speak about my videos in front of a live audience. Being that I had stage fright, I went on craigslist to look for a class I can take to help me stand in front of 300 people and give a talk and I ended up finding a standup class. I figured if I could do standup, then giving the lecture would be breeze. So in the first day of class, we were each asked to stand in front of the rest of the students and introduce somebody. When it was my turn, it was a disaster. I remember the teacher and class giving me "this guy is terrible" look. I told the teacher I needed to learn quick because I was scheduled to be on stage on Saturday and today was Monday. So he came up with this crazy idea of throwing me on stage the next day in front of a live audience. That turned out to be a disaster too! haha. I videotaped it with the hopes that I could later watch and analyze myself...I don't think I ever watched it. Actually, till this day no one has ever seen the tape.

So the big day finally came up and I stood in front of the audience to give the talk. I had my notes ready on flash cards and heart beating 100mph. My name was introduced and I got on stage and I started to get really nervous. I started looking at my notes and for about the first 15 seconds, I don't think I made sense whatsoever. Then I dropped my notes on the podium and decided to speak my mind (like I do in my videos) and then I went on one of my rants. The audience kept laughing and laughing and laughing but I wasn't really trying to make them laugh. I wasn't trying to be funny but rather I was just be myself. There were no punchlines or anything like that..it was just Ali being Ali but for whatever reason they liked it.

After the event was over, people asked if I could "perform" at their event. It was flattering but I wasn't a "performer". I was just being me. So I went back to standup class and then the instructor started teaching us about writing jokes. That's when I realized that comedians lie and make up stuff to make people laugh. Why? Because most of these people don't have enough funny things happen in their life that end in punchlines. I decided to leave the whole standup comedy thing because I didn't want to travel down the road. Eventually, I figured there is enough funny things that happen in my life that I can stand on stage and speak the truth to make people smile.

The challenge is not just remembering the funny stories but more importantly trying to find a lesson in it. When I get on stage and I have a mic in my hand, I'm not just a Muslim but I'm a Muslim in the spotlight so I have even more responsability on my shoulders. Any joker can stand up on stage and make people laugh but the real challenge is to keep everything halal.

And that's why standup comedy is hardest thing I have ever done...
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Looking to get married?
Visit Baba Ali's Muslim Marriage site halfourdeen.com

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ummah Films Season 2 coming to Islam Channel

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

I was recently notified that after the successful broadcast of Season 1 of the Reminder series on Islam Channel, they are going broadcast Season 2 InshAllah (see promo video above). One interesting thing is that there were three unreleased videos (never uploaded to YouTube),which were only available on the Reminder Series DVD set. Islam Channel has access to those three unreleased videos so I guess the Islam Channel viewers will have a special treat.

When I go to events and hear feedback from people about the videos, its really motivating. I really hope that after Ramadan I can start another Season of the videos InshAllah. It just requires so much time just to put one video together. I figure it takes about 10hrs or so to put my thoughts on paper. About 1hr to setup the equipment and break it down when I finish filming. Another 5 to 6 hours editing. Keep in mind that I work a normal 40/hr week job, travel almost ever weekend doing standup at events, and have other responsibilities.

With an estimated 1.6 million Muslims in the UK, Islam channel is watched by many of them and about 12 millions across Europe. Overall the channel reaches 133 countries globally. The channel does not yet broadcast in the USA and Canada, but it is available 24/7 online and we get an average of 212,474 hits per day.

The success is only from Allah (swt)

Note: The video promo above was put together by Islam Channel not Ummah Films.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Looking to get married?
Visit Baba Ali's Muslim Marriage site halfourdeen.com

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Baba Ali has returned to Ummah Films Blog

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

I actually miss blogging. I have posted here and there but nothing consistent and that's totally my fault. My intention is to post more frequently InshAllah. I get a lot of frequently asked questions so I'll try to answer them below:

Are you going to make another season of the videos?
I'm not sure yet. So far, each thing that I have committed to, I have done Alhamdulillah. I don't want to commit and not come through. Currently, my plate has been full with so many things.

I heard you've been doing Standup Comedy. Are you a comedian now?
It is true I've been performing standup but I don't see myself as a comedian. A while ago, I was given an indirect message that you'll need to make up stuff (lie) to make people laugh. I didn't want to do that especially after reading these Hadiths:

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that when they said, “Messenger of Allah, do you make jokes with us!” He (p.b.u.h.) replied, ‘I say nothing but the truth.’” (Tirmidhi 4885)

Mu'awiyah Ibn Jaydah al-Qushayri (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (p.b.u.h.) said, “Woe to him who tells things, speaking falsely, to make people laugh thereby. Woe to him! Woe to him!” (Abu Dawud 4972)

So I decided not to go that route and even in one of my videos I specifically mentioned I was "not a comedian" (assuming that the only way to do comedy was to lie). Some time passed, and I learned that there were plenty of funny things that happen to me so I gave standup another chance. I wasn't sure if it was going to work with have the limitations of speaking the truth so I started performing at events. I have traveled around the world doing standup and the feedback has been really positive. Alhamdulillah.

Where have you been traveling?
Wow, I've been all over the place. Just in the last few months, I have been performing standup in Detroit, Toledo, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Vancouver, Regina, New York, Boston, Hartford and the list goes on. In about two weeks, I'll be in Jamaica (NY), Dallas (TX), San Jose (CA), and Los Angeles (CA) performing at the Evening of Inspiration tour. Next month, I may be coming back to Houston, Orlando, and New York again InshAllah. I definitely need to put up a schedule but sometimes I get confused on where I'm going next.

Where can I purchase your Mecca to Medina board game?
We sold out of games a long time ago. All 2500 games are gone! Alhamdulillah

Where can I get an Ummah Films T-Shirt from?
I keep getting asked about the Ummah Films shirts so I'm thinking of getting them printed up again and bringing them to events InshAllah. I guess it is one of those things that you can only if you see me in person.

What is the status of your movie?
So far, about 35 pages of the script has been written. I hope in the about a month, we'll have the 1st draft of the script complete. I have hired a Muslim screenwriter to help me get my crazy ideas from my head onto paper. Now that I'm back to the blog, I'll try to keep everyone posted.

So what's next?
Well...that's a good question. I'm not sure. In my videos, I don't just talk about the problem but I try to give a solution as well. So now I'm trying to look for some solutions to make things better InshAllah. For example, one of the big issues in our society is the challenges of young Muslims getting married. Being that most of the Muslim Marriages fall short, I've been thinking of starting my own Muslim Matchmaking website and making it different than the current trend of sites. Well, that's just one of my crazy ideas, now I just need to get that and my other ideas out of my head and into reality.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Looking to get married?
Visit Baba Ali's Muslim Marriage site halfourdeen.com

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Video Dawah

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

This past weekend at ICNA Baba Ali and I gave a presentation on video dawah where we talked about how and why we make the videos that we do. If you missed the session or simply didn't attend ICNA you can watch it here:

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Looking to get married?
Visit Baba Ali's Muslim Marriage site halfourdeen.com