UMN’s Al-Madinah hosts Comedy Night to raise awareness, raise laughs

Comedian Hasan Minhaj of “The Daily Show” will headline Al-Madinah Cultural Center’s April 2 show

Comedian Hasan Minhaj will headline Al-Madinah Cultural Center's Comedy Night on Sunday.

Courtesy Hasan Minhaj

Comedian Hasan Minhaj will headline Al-Madinah Cultural Center’s Comedy Night on Sunday.

Maddy Folstein

Spreading awareness is sometimes best done through humor.

To prove this, the University of Minnesota’s Al-Madinah Cultural Center is hosting its annual comedy night as the kick-off event for Islam Awareness Week. This year’s show will feature comedians Aman Ali, Daina Ali and Hasan Minhaj, a senior correspondent on “The Daily Show.”

“Comedy Night was previously called ‘Muslims Are Funny,’” said Amera Hassan, a second year student studying physiology at the University and AMCC’s public relations officer. “It’s historically a family event. [ … ] It brings the whole Muslim community together, which is something that doesn’t happen often.”

Securing Hasan Minhaj as headliner was a highlight for AMCC board members.

“[Minhaj] came to Minneapolis [on tour] in October,” said AMCC treasurer and finance sophomore, Faheem Jabir. “We decided to reach out to him and make this a dream come true.”

However, some board members were unsure they would be able to secure such an illustrious comedian.

“I thought it was ridiculous,” Hassan said. “But it happened. We decided to go big, because the worst thing that could happen would be being told ‘no.’”

The AMCC hosts a variety of events throughout the school year, which include cultural showcases where other student groups present at AMCC about their culture and traditions, as well as Eidrageous, a celebration of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.

As part of Islam Awareness Week, Comedy Night is more than a simple evening of entertainment.

“There’s a lot of Islamophobia in the United States and worldwide,” Jabir said. “Often the narrative that Muslims present is that they’re intelligent people [with] higher positions that they respect. But at the same time … we’re normal people, just like everyone else. We have a sense of humor.”

In addition to the popular headliner, this year’s Comedy Night is an upgrade from previous events for the AMCC. “This year, we’re doing it in [Northrop Memorial Auditorium],” Jabir said. “We’ve upgraded the venue to accommodate more people.”

For AMCC board members who have been working on the event for months, the night is sure to be equal parts chaos and culmination.

“I’m really excited to be backstage … I love that chaos. I’m ready for a smooth event, and I’m really excited to have my fellow team members by my side,” Hassan said.

“Oftentimes when you see Islam on the media it’s all these terrible things that are said about us. But here we’re gathered for a good reason. We’re here to laugh together.”

What: Al-Madinah Cultural Center presents: Comedy Night featuring Hasan Minhaj

When: Sunday,7:00 p.m.

Where: Northrop Memorial Auditorium, 84 Church St. S.E., Minneapolis

How much: $10 – $25