INTERVIEW: MAZ JOBRANI talks Emmys, Netflix and Acting| CROOKES MAGAZINE
The stand-up comedian, actor, author and award show host has had a busy year. Next stop: the Emmys!
AC: We’re now in conversation a couple months before you host the International Emmy Awards. Do you ever get nervous about gigs? How much time have you spent working on material?
MJ: I’ve been doing standup and hosting events for almost 20 years so I don’t get super nervous. However, I do tend to get a little nervous right before I perform a gig that’s not a straight stand-up show. You never know how the audience is going to react. When it’s a standup show and they’ve bought tickets to see you it’s usually a friendly audience and you’re good to go. When it’s a fundraiser or an event like the International Emmy’s where they might not know you that well, you get some nerves before going on. If you try your first few jokes and hear laughter then that means the audience is sauced up and you’re gonna be good to go. If you hear crickets then you just get into auto mode and recite your jokes hoping time runs out and you can introduce the next act. As for time spent on material for the show I have had one phone call with the writer and we are just starting to work on stuff. I think given that we have 2 months to prepare we will be able to hone it in a little. My guess is that with Trump tweeting every day and with all that’s going on in the world there will be a lot of updating going on.
AC: Being an immigrant in the current political climate, is your heritage more important to you than ever?
MJ: My heritage has always been important to me. I grew up in the US since I was 6 years old so I’m very American. However, I also grew up in an Iranian household so I hold on to many Persian traditions and customs. When you see those traditions being attacked in the political arena you start to defend it more than you normally would. I just want all Americans to know that I am an immigrant and that there’s nothing wrong with that. We should welcome people who want to come to this country for a better life. We have it so good compared to many others around the world and we can’t close the door on those who are less fortunate than us.
“If people are able to watch my show and get a message of inclusion and tolerance, then that’s an added bonus.”
AC: What message do you hope your Netflix Comedy Special sends?
MJ: Well my first goal with my special is to make people laugh. At the end of the day I’m a comedian first. However, if people are able to watch my show and get a message of inclusion and tolerance then that’s an added bonus. I have always been a fan of comedy or art that says something and if I’m able to achieve that then I feel like I am doing what I’m meant to do in this life. There is so much negative media about people from Iran or the Middle East that I hope my special can show that we are much more similar than you would think. We all love to laugh and we’re all just trying to live our lives in this crazy world in peace.
AC: How did you land a role in CBS’ ‘Superior Donuts’? Has that name properly sunk in yet?
MJ: They had written a part for a Middle Eastern character named Maz. My manager brought that to my attention and I went in to meet the producers. We talked a little bit and agreed that I was right for the part (not the least because they had used my name for the character.) Once I came on board and they insisted on keeping the character an Iraqi immigrant I asked that they change the name since Maz is an Iranian name. As for the name of the show it’s a silly name, but really it’s based on the play by Tracy Letts. It’s been a fun project to be a part of.
AC: How does acting inform your comedy?
MJ: They’re two different muscles. The acting is nice because I don’t have to wrack my brain writing stuff and I get to come on and interpret something someone has written. I still go up to the writers with ideas on tweaks, but for the most part they’ve done all the heavy lifting. Standup is a long process where over a year or two I create a new hour of material and then perform it on a special. It’s much more labor intensive for me but I still love it. I really love both.
Read the full interview at AdamCrookes.com
Interview with Adam Crookes