While most of us were plowing through instant mashed potatoes and canned cranberry sauce on Turkey Day, British-Iranian comic Omid Djalili was invited to spend Thanksgiving at UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson's house in New York.
"I knew him from my days in the former Czechoslovakia," Djalili says on the phone from New York during a brief stand-up tour. "I lived in the Czechoslovakia for five years. I had a wonderful time. Thanksgiving is marvelous. The turkey was magnificent. I even did some research into what Thanksgiving actually is. I didn't know that, back in the 1600s, the settlers were starving and it was the Native Americans who helped them out. So you're giving thanks to the Native Americans. Of course, the Native Americans know it as If We Had Known Better Day. I think that's too edgy to say."
Djalili knows a little something about edgy. Though he once called himself "the guy who brought you ethnic comedy in a nice, mainstream way," Djalili, who is Baha'i, has made a living skewering racial stereotypes and religion in his mostly Muslim-versus-whitey humor. In the UK, he's an institution. In the U.S. -- despite attempting a Hollywood career for ten years -- he's relatively unknown. That's about to change. In an event organized by the Levantine Center, Rainn Wilson will introduce Djalili in his first performance in L.A. tonight at the Wadsworth Theater.More »