Dean Obeidallah (Arabic: دين عبيدالله) is a Palestinian-Italian-American comedian. He was born in Lodi, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Paramus. His father was born in Battir, a small village near Bethlehem in Palestine; his mother's parents were born in Sicily. He is part of a small but growing number of Arab-American comedians who have increasingly received media attention in the past few years, as they use comedy to both entertain and dispel negative stereotypes of Arab-Americans and Muslims.
Obeidallah and other Arab-American comics have been compared to the groundbreaking minority comedians of the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's who have used comedy to raise political and social issues in an effort to change them as noted by The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik:
"Just as comic Lenny Bruce battled the stifling conformity of the 1950s or Dick Gregory and Richard Pryor challenged racism in the '60s and '70s, these performers now are challenging mainstream notions about their ethnic, religious and racial groups."
In 2005, Obeidallah received the first “Spirit of Bill Hicks” award, named in honor of comedian Bill Hicks for “thought provoking comedy” from the NY Underground Comedy Festival and the Hicks’ family. He co-produced with the Emmy Award winning comedy writer and best-selling author Max Brooks a new show entitled The Watch List for Comedy Central's Internet channel. This was the first show ever produced by a major American entertainment company to showcase all Arab-American performers. Obeidallah has also appeared on Comedy Central on the critically acclaimed "Axis of Evil" Comedy special.
Dean is the founder and editor of the blog The Dean's Report which addresses topics of the day.
He is also the co-founder of the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival. This highly-acclaimed, first of its kind festival has received national and international media coverage. It is held annually in New York City and showcases Arab-American comics, actors, playwrights and filmmakers. The 9th annual Festival will be held October 18-20, 2012.
Obeidallah is the co-creator of Stand up for Peace which he performs across the country with Jewish-American comedian Scott Blakeman. Stand Up for Peace brings Arab-Americans, Muslims and Jews together through comedy in the hopes of fostering understanding and supporting a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Dean has also been featured on numerous national and international television programs including Comedy Central's "Axis of Evil" special and The Watch List, ABC's The View, NBC's "Rock Center," Current TV's "Young Turks," MSNBC's "Up with Chris Hayes," "Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen," PBS' Newshour with Jim Lehrer, ABC's 20/20, CNN's "Inside the Middle East" and Japan's NHK. He can also be seen in the PBS' documentary, "Stand Up: Muslim American Comics Come of Age"PBS Programs. Dean can also be seen in the bonus feature of the DVD version of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" in the section entitled: Arab-American comedians. He has also been featured in various publications and radio networks including The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, "The Washington Post," The Los Angeles Times, NPR, BBC, Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman, and The Associated Press.
Dean served as the Executive Producer of the Amman Stand up Comedy Festival held in Amman, Jordan from December 2–6, 2008. This was the first stand up comedy festival in the history of the Middle East. The third annual Festival was held December 4 to 10, 2010.
He is currently producing a documentary with comedian/filmmaker Negin Farsad entitled "The Muslims Are Coming!" focusing on freedom of religion for all Americans. The film focuses on a free stand up comedy tour by American-Muslim comedians across the South and West. it also features celebrity interviews with a wide range of people including The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, CNN's Soledad O'Brien and Ali Velshi, Congressman Keith Ellison, comedians Lewis Black, David Cross, Colin Quinn, Lizz Winstead and others.
In addition to appearing at hundreds of comedy clubs and colleges across the United States, Obeidallah has performed stand-up comedy in Canada and in the Middle East in Amman, Dubai, Beirut, Cairo, Haifa, Oman, Sharm El Sheikh and Ramallah.
Famous quotes containing the word dean:
“If anything characterizes the cultural life of the seventies in America, it is an insistence on preventing failures of communication.”
—Richard Dean Rosen (b. 1949)