Comedian Sammy Obeid @ Samskriti: Making America Great Again, Again

Commedian Sammy Obeid presented his act with bare essentials -- a wooden stool that he did not use and the first of three water bottles that he consumed.

Commedian Sammy Obeid presented his act with bare essentials — a wooden stool that he did not use and the first of three water bottles that he consumed.

By Pramod Kulkarni

HOUSTON: Coincidences don’t happen only in bad Bollywood movies. Stars in the universe collaborated to make the weekend of May 26-27 in Houston an extended comedy special.

On Friday, the International Hindi Association presented Hasya Kavi Sammelan at India House, which combined parodies of Bollywood songs with political satire with heavy doses of devotion to mother (maa) and country (desh bhakti).

During the weekend, I also happened to watch a Netflix comedy special by comedian Hasan Minhaj. Now a correspondent for the Daily Show, Minhaj gained publicity by doing standup at the White House Correspondents Dinner, where President Donald Trump was notably absent. Minhaj’s Netflix special focused on his growing up as a Muslim immigrant in the lilly white community of Davis, California. Minhaj’s comedy has an element of emotional poignancy that is worth watching for mainstream Americans as well as the immigrant community.

Completing the comedic trio was Sammy Obeid, presented by Samskriti on Saturday, May 27 at the Kaplan Theater of the Jewish Community Center in southwest Houston.

Obeid’s performance for Samskriti was interesting from several aspects. First of all, it was out-of-character for Samskriti, which typically presents classical Indian performing arts. Secondly, one would have expected the organization to present an Indian comedian.

Instead, Sammy Obeid describes himself as Lebanese-Palestinian-Syrian-Italian-American, born in Oakland, California. Regardless of his origin, Obeid was a hit with the Indo-American audience for his often cerebral comedy that was wholesome (without any four-letter words). It was a brilliant stroke of programmng by Samskriti Director Rathna Kumar.
In fact, Obeid told the audience that he often performed for Indian audiences. His one requirement for performing at Indian weddings is that he be hired for all 12 days of the celebrations.

Obeid’s skit in Houston focused on his already announced candidacy for U.S. President. He proclaimed as his campaign slogan: Making America Great Again, Again. “My victory is guaranteed,” Obeid declared. “Because the Russians love me.”
The audience was also charmed by Obeid’s word play on mathematics and his take on organic foods, which he redefined as “Orjanic”.

At the conclusion of his one-hour performance, Obeid was thronged by admirers to purchase his CDs and tee-shirts for his presidential campaign and the Orjanic theme.

Obeid is best known for his 1,001-day streak of consecutive comedy performances. It began on December 26th, 2010, and concluded on September 21st, 2013—four days after an appearance on TBS’s Conan. Breaking the old world record on Day 731, Obeid set the new one at 1,001 Arabian Nights of Comedy.

Samskriti returns to its core programming with a dance performance of “Mad & Divine” by Rama Vaidyanathan on July 9 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston, 400 Main Street.

Samskriti’s motto is Two Worlds, One Stage. Its programs are funded by grants from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.

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