"The Axis of Evil Comedy Special

11 p.m. Saturday (March 10)

Comedy Central

If only The Axis of Evil Comedy Special, which features four comics of Middle Eastern descent, had turned out to be awful. Then we could call it “a bomb.” If it had been great, we might describe it as “explosive.” Or if one of the comedians had a break-out set, we’d declare that he was “blowing up.”

Oh, the hilarity!

Actually, The Axis of Evil Comedy Special doesn’t lend itself to puns. It’s not bad, but not great. Nearly all of the comedy deals with being Middle Eastern-Americans in a post-Sept. 11 world, and each comic’s set includes some clever observations mixed with unintentional duds.

Maz Jobrani (Gary on The Knights of Prosperity) has a good bit about how frustrating it must have been for kids to play hide-and-seek with Osama bin Laden and another suggesting that e-mail providers don’t have a sense of humor when it comes to jokes about terrorism — even if you end with “ha-ha.” More interesting than any of Jobrani’s jokes is his delivery. Turns out, he has the same voice as James Woods and a manic delivery to match.

Dean Obeidallah says he was excited when Arabs were described as “the new blacks.” His response: “Arab, please.” He’s at his most creative, though, when he demonstrates how the meaning of words changes. “Wait till Friday night. We’ve been planning this for months. People will be talking about this for years” sounds much different coming from an American than it does from an Arab.

Ahmed Ahmed (yes, really) has that annoying Dane Cook habit of laughing at his own jokes, but he hits the bull’s-eye imitating the sound of a mosque across the street from a nightclub in Dubai. He also wonders with all the terrorist groups — Islamic Jihad, al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah — “how do you know which is the best one to join?”

Aron Kader is the weakest of the bunch — he says he’ll name his son Al — but he closes strong with an impression of what it’d be like if George W. Bush lost his cool at a press conference.

It’s a mildly amusing show, but nobody kills.



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