Muslim Comedy Show Benefits Pakistani Orphans
By JOHN GREGG, Correspondent, TB Reporter
The Super Muslim Comedy Tour seeks to do good works and to expand its appeal to a broader base of the general population.
TAMPA – Family-friendly comedy presented by Muslim comedians will be coming to the USF OVAL Theater in Tampa on Sunday (March 25).
The 6 p.m. show of the Super Muslim Comedy Tour, which is hosted by Penny Appeal USA, is a fundraising event for the nonprofit’s OrphanKind Village project in Pakistan where they are building a sustainable village for orphans. The three-hour show will feature comedy sets and skits from some of the nation’s top Muslim comedic talent and a half-hour presentation on Penny Appeal’s proposed village in Pakistan. Complimentary snacks and drinks will be provided.
Modeled after the organization’s successful village in Gambia, the Pakistan OrphanKind village will be a gated community that will include a school, a mosque, housing, staff residences and an administration building.
“We provide everything that they would need to grow up in a positive and safe environment. We’re not just focused on throwing a bunch of orphans in a school. We really focus on the quality of our facilities. They really have everything they need to succeed and that’s what we’re trying to provide for them,” said Ryan Elfallah, fund development officer for Penny Appeal and one of the organizers for Sunday’s event.
Founded in the summer of 2016, Penny Appeal, whose mission is to “eradicate intergenerational poverty through long-term, sustainable solutions,” also works domestically with under-funded high schools in low-income areas where students may view attending college as an unachievable goal. The nonprofit promotes digital literacy and gives sponsorship grants to the schools they work with as part of their Digital Divide campaign. Elfallah said that the project will include schools in the Tampa Bay area in the coming months.
Penny Appeal is also active in the Tampa Bay community. Elfallah leads a group of about 15 volunteers who take part in a monthly service activity. They have helped with food service to the homeless at Trinity Cafe, helped with cleanup of Tampa streets, and have hosted weekly fundraisers during which they squeeze fresh orange juice for various charities.
Elfallah said he hopes that Penny Appeal and its work can begin to organically spread to a broader base of the general population. The Super Muslim Comedy Tour, which recently had a sold-out event in New York City, was conceived with that goal in mind.
“We are not a Muslim organization; however, we are Muslim-led and our personal networks are generally Muslim. We hope to branch outside of that as we grow,” Elfallah said. “We think we are trying to do a good thing with trying to eradicate poverty through long-term, sustainable solutions and we would love to break out from our ‘Muslim bubble’ and have non-Muslims come out and have a fun night.”
The widespread popularity of Muslim comedians, like former Daily Show correspondents Hassan Minaj and University of South Florida graduate Aasif Mandvi, is evidence that issues specific to Muslims can be successfully presented to and resonate with a mainstream audience. Elfallah said he thinks that the talent on the Super Muslim Comedy Tour, which on the Tampa stop will include Feraz Ozel, Travina Springer, Azeem Muhammad and Yasmin Elhady, can do the same.
“Some of the material of the comics is geared towards a Muslim audience, but it is stuff that anyone could appreciate and laugh about. They do touch on topics like airport security racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, but these are topics that everyone can understand and laugh at when it is presented in a comedic way,” he said.
“Hopefully, the audience will understand and see that Muslims can be funny and they’re not all terrorists. We would love the opportunity to present ourselves to a broader audience and show them a good time.”
For information or tickets to the Super Muslim Comedy Tour, go to eventbrite.com.
For information on Penny Appeal USA, its programs and campaigns, go to pennyappealusa.org.
Photos courtesy of Penny Appeal USA.
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