"When I moved here, I noticed a huge limitation in the amount of programming and auditions for Middle Eastern roles that weren't fairly one-sided," laments Miami transplant Ronnie Khalil (pictured). Trading his MBA for appearances on ABC, CNN and NPR, the Conan, Comedy Central and NYC Arab-American Comedy Festival vet has teamed with co-founder and co-producer Ryan Shrime, rounding up such boldfaced names as Maz Jobrani, Maria Shehata and Aron Kader, plus a couple dozen other standups, actors, writers and directors for the first annual Middle Eastern Comedy Festival. The Laugh Factory hosts Tuesday's opening-evening "Brown Carpet Standup Comedy Gala for Charity" (benefiting Laguna Beach's Children's Hope International), while Wednesday and Thursday feature "Night of 1001 Sketches ... More or Less ... Probably Less" at Acme Comedy Theatre (135 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood). Then it's back to the Laugh Factory on Friday, where the "Standup Comedy Showcase" and "Closing Party" brings together the best Fest headliners, new faces and copious drinkers. "We've got Egyptians, Palestinians, Persians, Israelis and everything else in the Arab spectrum," Khalil boasts. "The festival is nonprofit, nonpolitical and nonreligious; we just want to showcase our wide variety of talent and humor."
Tue., Sept. 22; Wed., Sept. 23; Thu., Sept. 24, 2009