Middle East Comic Relief

The concept of “clash of cultures” is the idea that if different nationalities experience conflict, it is deemed something unavoidable due to the natural differences between the cultures. If this were the case, however, The Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief would be impossible. Considering that a wide variety of Middle Eastern and North African cultures as well as outside nationalities can come together and enjoy the same comedy, it's apparent that the “clash of cultures” is a myth. As Marjane Satrapi advocates, perhaps the “clash” is not one of culture but one of politics, and maybe without that “clash of politics,” the world could come together and enjoy one conglomerate culture.

The Sultans of Satire is a program started back in 2005 by Jordan Elgrably as a project of the Levantine Cultural Center. “The show utilizes humor and satire to convey messages of unity among Middle Eastern and North African cultures. According to Jordan Elgrably, who created the show, “after the events of 9/11 and the resulting vilification of most things Arab or Muslim, this has become the mission of Levantine Center.” Over the years, comedians have contributed to this movement, and on December 13, 2014, the Carpenter Performing Arts Center hosted a show featuring MT Abou-Daoud, Sherwin Arae, Aron Kader, Melissa Shoshahi, and Sammy Obeid, who holds the record for the longest consecutive run of nightly shows by a stand-up comic with his 1,001 Arabian Nights of Comedy. These comedians put on a performance, with Tehran as MC, to benefit the Middle East Arts Center and delivered comedy that challenged culture, family, identity, islamophobia, and the supposed “clash of culture” between the US and the Middle East. The variety in everyone's routines catered to different topics to satirize both Middle Eastern culture and the warped perspective the US has of it.

For example, Abou-Daoud and Shoshahi threw jokes about gender roles and the struggles of women in Islam, saving their sharpest jokes to speak out against the conservative repression of women in the realms of sexuality and politics. Tehran, being part black, also had a routine showing islamophobia as just one of many forms of racism against minorities. These added dimensions, among others, resulted in a performance where the comedians came to be more than the sum of their parts as they satirized both Islam and Islamophobia, both men and women, and both politics and culture.

For more information about The Sultans of Satire, check out their website at

For more information about shows at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, go to



Safe in Sound (EDM) Festival


On October 18, 2014 the Safe in Sound Festival was held at the Hollywood Palladium. It featured the

largest Dubstep DJ’s alive: Flux Pavilion, Adventure Club, Destroid, Caked Up, and Terravita. I had the

opportunity to photograph Caked Up during their set. Caked Up rose through the ranks as a professional

DJ by taking samples from trending Vine and YouTube videos and mixing it into their own house/trap/

dance music. I believe this led them to become the success they are today. So be on the look-out for

Caked Up as they make their ascent to become one of the greatest DJ acts.

Shooting from backstage I got to see firsthand how they made the sea of people go absolutely crazy.

They rattled the stage like an earthquake! It was like nothing I have ever experienced. I could not help

myself from dancing uncontrollably while simultaneously shooting pictures.

I used to think that DJs just pressed the play button on their Macbooks and the show happened. After

watching Caked Up changing the high pass filters, reverb, volumes, lining up the next song, and still

having enough time to ramp up the crowd and spray them with a snow gun, my paradigm of DJs has

completely shifted. If you have been reluctant to go to an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) event, I hope

this article, along with the pictures, persuade you to buy your first ticket into clouds of ecstasy.

CHECK OUT my Instagram @ChristianBPhotos for more behind the scenes pictures of the show!


TINY: Kind of a Big Deal

Photo credit:


Elise Boulding, a sociologist and major contributor in the field of Conflict & Peace Studies, said: “The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.”


I don’t know about you, but for a long time, my greatest conflict in life was not having things. As kids, we probably all chased Mom around the store begging for a toy when we already had too many at home. That toybox was overflowing, but we “...needed it, Mom!”


And then we grew up. But did we learn anything? Or did the toys just get more complex and more expensive? Think about it: Who are you, really, if you don’t have the newest iPad? Who cares if you just got one six months ago? This one must be better. It’s newer. It’s shinier.


We can’t help it. We live in America. More is more.

Read more: TINY: Kind of a Big Deal

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