Flying While Muslim: Standup Comedian Azhar Usman


Described as “Americaʼs Funniest Muslim” by CNN, AZHAR USMAN is among the “500 Most Influential Muslims in the World,” according to Georgetown University. In 2010, comedy icon Dave Chappelle commented: “Azhar Usman is untouchable.” He has been profiled by over 100 major media outlets, including The New York Times, The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, The Times of India, DAWN (Pakistan), Al-Ahram (Egypt), Jawa Pos (Indonesia), and The Economist. In 2005, ABC’s Nightline dedicated an entire episode to exploring his life and comedy career.

A former attorney, Azhar is a Chicago-based, professional standup comedian, performing at comedy clubs, theatres, festivals, campuses, conferences, conventions, and private events all over the globe. Over the past decade, he has performed in over twenty countries, on five continents. He released his self-produced, underground comedy album “SQUARE THE CIRCLE” in 2003, which went on to gain a cult following among English-speaking Muslim communities worldwide.

Azhar portrayed original sketch characters both on television (MTV, E4) and online (Tinkuʼs World), starred in the award-winning, independent feature film “MOOZ-LUM” (starring Danny Glover and Nia Long, directed by Qasim Basir), and appeared in numerous documentaries (BBC, CBC, ABC, Al-Jazeera, PBS). He has served as a producer on critically acclaimed short films, including “THE BOUNDARY” (starring Alexander Siddig, directed by Julius Onah–sold to HBO), and co-wrote and produced the standup comedy concert film “ALLAH MADE ME FUNNY: LIVE IN CONCERT” (directed by Andrea Kalin–limited theatrical release in the United States).

As a versatile media professional, Azhar is as comfortable in front of the camera as he is behind the camera, serving as writer, producer, and talent on diverse creative projects throughout his career. He is an executive producer and co-founding principal of KALIJAGA MEDIA LLC, a newly formed independent production company focused on entertainment content production across all existing and emerging digital platforms. The Company’s first major production is “MO AMER: LEGALLY HOMELESS,” the first ever, one-hour standup special starring an Arab-American comedian (directed by Jay Chapman–expected release 2016).