“I have cerebral palsy, which means I shake all the time,” Maysoon Zayid announces at the beginning of her exhilarating, hilarious, inspiring TED talk. “Look. It’s exhausting. I’m like Shakira, Shakira meets Muhammad Ali.”
With grace and wit, this Arab-American comedian will take you on quick tour of her adventures as an actress, a stand-up comic, a philanthropist and an advocate for the disabled. As you roller-coaster your way along with her, you can’t help noticing through tears welling up in your eyes, that she is spreading happiness – and doing it too damn well.
Happiness Lessons from Maysoon Zayid
Born in 1974 in New Jersey, Maysoon described herself in a BBC interview as “a Palestinian Muslim virgin with cerebral palsy, from New Jersey, who is an actress, comedian and activist”. She is the first person ever to perform stand-up comic act in Palestine and Jordan.
Maysoon Zayid has appeared as stand-up at several of New York’s top clubs, including Caroline’s, Gotham, and Stand Up NY, where she took on serious topics such as terrorism and the Israel-Palestine conflict.
She co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival in 2003 with comedian Dean Obeidallah. This first-of-its-kind festival has received national and international media coverage and high acclaim. It is held annually in New York City and showcases Arab-American comics, actors, playwrights and filmmakers.
“Palestinians are still being oppressed, Arab-Americans are still being discriminated against and Muslims are being vilified. So that part has not changed and that is something I still have to address in my comedy,” she said. “I think comedy is all related to the audience and the audience in America is more interested in who I am, my love life, my relationship with the United States, rather than the Arab Spring or Palestine,” Maysoon said in an interview with WomensENews.
Maysoon proves that no dream is impossible. She proves that we can always be cause of someone’s smile and laughter, whatever the circumstance. She proves that you can spread happiness no matter what!
You’ll long remember these words of her: “The doctors said that I wouldn’t walk,but I am here in front of you. I hope that together,we can create more positive images of disability in the media and in everyday life.Perhaps if there were more positive images, it would foster less hate on the internet.
She says, “If there was an Oppression Olympics, I would win the gold medal. I’m Palestinian, Muslim, I’m female, I’m disabled, and I live in New Jersey.”
Watch her TED video, in which she says, “People with disabilities are the largest minority in the world, and we are the most underrepresented in entertainment.”
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