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How to Make White People Laugh

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  713 ratings  ·  136 reviews
From the acclaimed writer, director, and star of the hit documentary The Muslims are Coming! comes a memoir in essays about growing up Iranian-American in a post-9/11 world and the power of comedy to combat racism.

Negin Farsad is an Iranian-American-Muslim female stand-up comedian who believes she can change the world through jokes. And yes, sometimes that includes fart
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 24th 2016 by Grand Central Publishing
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Mar 11, 2016 rated it liked it
DNF at 39%. I tried to make it to 50%, but frankly, I stopped caring. It started out being funny. It started out being reflective. And it started out being interesting. I especially liked the work she did to counter an anti-muslim campaign on the New York subway system.

After a while, there is only so much of her memoir that held me. Yes, it was hard growing up as one of two muslim families in Palm Springs. Yes, it was hard to be at white-city Cornell. Yes, it was hard to be the only muslim in Bl

I'll put up a review once the readathon is over. But in the meantime, GO READ OR LISTEN TO THIS BOOK. It's amazing. It's HYSTERICAL. Probably the funniest audiobook I have ever listened to, and that is a high mark to meet. If you're looking for a funny palate cleanser during the #24in48 Readathon, grab this from Audible. You will not regret it. Run, don't walk.
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
Negin Farsad, an Iranian-American, calls herself a social justice comedian. (This is just one of the intriguing hats she wears: she's also a documentary film-maker and a podcaster.)

In a January 2016 TED talk with the characteristically memorable title "A Highly Scientific Taxonomy of Haters," Farsad enumerates what constitutes social justice comedy:

1. It mustn't be partisan
2. It must be inviting and warm
3. It must be funny but sneaky.

I call bullshit on #1. By its very nature, social justice lean
Dec 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Negin Farsad definitely knows how to make this white person laugh. She’s bold, irreverent, and on a mission to educate America about Muslims. Her methods, which she calls “social justice comedy,” are delightful. Instead of approaching people with anger or impatience, she is all about making connections. Like the time she stood outside a Mormon church with a “Hug a Muslim” sign (she had many takers), or the time she and a documentary film crew talked to a man with an enormous Confederate flag dis ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I grow up, I want to be like Negin.

She is smart, funny, and tells some amazing stories. She's innovative and knows how to spread it around. It took a while to listen and think about all that she says here. Funny, yes, but so very serious about serious things. From TED talks to Hug a Muslim, from stand-up comedy to patriotism, she covers a wide range of topics that, yes, made me laugh, but made me think more.

Oh, yes, and she's brave. And bold. We need more of that. Brava!
Jun 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, race
I heard an interview somewhere about six weeks ago with Farsad and really liked the idea of social justice comedy. Certainly it is true that good comedy is the truth stated in surprising and sometimes enlightening ways; I was excited by her case against the MTA and her idea for The Muslims Are Coming comedy tour. I put the book on reserve with my library and found her podcast.

After listening to 3-5 episodes of her podcast, I was less enamored. I found her comedic voice to be slightly patronizing
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Farsad is certainly an interesting comedian and filmmaker. She is an Iranian-American who grew up primarily in Palm Springs, California. She has degrees from Cornell University (undergraduate in government and theater) and Columbia University (graduate in African-American Studies). She defines her niche as social justice comedy.

Her mission as a social justice comedian is to introduce ideas that change social consciousness using humor. Much of the boo
Funny take on the serious issues of immigrants, racism, and other-ness in the United States written and read by an Iranian-American Social Justice Comedian. A nice break from super serious reading, but also a funny and thoughtful look at the Muslim American experience in this country during a time when muslims are often discriminated against as being all radical, terrorists, etc. Now off to look up her TED talk.
This is a very funny and lighthearted book that's kind of a combination of memoir, manifesto, and instructional book for minorities on interacting with white people. At times, this combination made it hard to pin down just who Farsad intended her audience to be: sometimes the book was very much directed at white readers, while at other times she offered advice for POC.

The end result is a bit scattershot and I often felt that Farsad was being entirely too gosh-darn NICE. I mean, she definitely c
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this now!

And give a copy to every white person you know. This book is funny and smart, but still can get you fired up to write some letters to your local congressmen. Negin is extremely relatable and doesn't hide her feelings. She's fighting the good fight to make people understand what it's like to be, as she calls it, a "third-thing American." It's important to read other people's experiences, especially those people who don't look like you. It helps us learn empathy so hopefully we can m
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Mostly funny and very thought provoking. I really enjoyed this!
I saw this book come through processing at my library, and was excited to read it, so I put a hold on it, and entered to win a copy here on Goodreads. And I won! I was so excited--normally I can take awhile to getting around to reading a book in my possession, but not this time. Maybe it was the eye-catching cover, or the timeliness of the message, or the promise of humor injected into often sad and serious topics, but I was really interested. And the book did not disappoint. I'll admit that Neg ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Are you a formally educated POC who understands both the pains and joys of a "hyphenated identity" but also says something like "I don't get involved in politics"? If so, this book is for you!

This is a rare book that I would (and have) casually recommend(ed) to friends and family alike. This is not a how to book on white allyship, or (IMO) a book to make white people laugh. Instead, it is a book focused on the personal narrative of a POC (Farsad herself) that illuminates things of which eve
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read this wondering if I had a double life as a woman named Negin Farsad with a successful comedy career. Every word sounded like it had come out of my mouth, and as a fellow "hyphenated American", it was almost scary to read something that I connected to and understood so completely.

Farsad speaks to all Americans who have to check "white" on the census even though we're really not, to all of us who have been confused about our place in a country so split between black and white, to all of us
Christine Chapman
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had the privilege of hearing Negin speak at Book Riot Live last weekend and the book does not disappoint. Negin shares about her experience with Islamaphobia in America as an Iranian-American but in a comedic way that inspires action even from people who don't normally consider themselves "activists". I particularly enjoyed listening to the audiobook because she narrated it and had neat ways of narrating the footnotes and graphic components ...more
Jul 02, 2017 added it
I have mixed feelings and need to marinate on this for a bit before writing a review.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm a white people and I laughed so she clearly knows what she's doing. ...more
Christine Irvin
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Yep, I read the whole book in one day (just in case you were wondering)! The text is written in an easy-to-read style, but the subject matter is quite serious.

Author Negin Farsad is not only a writer and a director, she is also a stand-up comedian and what she calls her "hyphenated" identity, as in she is an Iranian-American-Muslim. As a comedian, she tries to change people's perceptions of race, particularly that of Iranians, and of faith, particularly that of Muslim, through her jokes and acti
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Ah ok so I actually finished reading this book like, months ago. And I was putting off reviewing it because I wanted to actually review it but now it's been so long I don't think I even remember everything I wanted to mention in my review. Luckily (?) I took some notes so I'm going to try to decipher them and type up a sort of review now.

I ended up really liking this book. I was hesitant about it in the beginning, especially when Negin started talking about how she related to black people. I was
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminist, funny
The only thing keeping this from 5 stars was that it was a TEENY BIT slow in parts. Really it's like 4.5 stars I don't know why I'm being so stingy.

Negin Farsad is very funny, very warm and very smart. This book has actual facts in it that are supported by footnotes. Sometimes I watch Last Week Tonight and laugh while also feeling kind of smart and definitely learning stuff. This book is a similar experience. I felt like I was at a sophisticated wine and cheese party where the host spoke eloque
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This seems to be a "love it or hate it" book. Well...this is a 'loved it' review!

If you want to read about identity, the social construction of race, intersectionality, systemic violence, discrimination, and othering in a conversational tone, then this is it. Farsad discusses complex issues and concepts under the veil of humor which makes the book highly accessible. This is the practical book of thinking about such things without feeling attacked or wanting to gauge your eyes out over dry academ
Briar's Reviews
Negin Farsad's comedy-memoir book is absolutely fantastic!

I really enjoyed this novel! It gives a wonderful insight to the life of an Iranian-American, being a comedian, and of culture.

Negin does a great job at explaining culture with a hint of comedy in it. Discussing culture can be a very boring topic, but this book spices it up and makes the conversation lighter! I really did enjoy how Negin explains her culture and her life, and I would definitely pick up another book like this! She also in
Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it
closer to 3.5 but rounding down. Timely discussion of how to promote tolerance and fight Islamophobia by getting to know people who are different. It would have been better for me if it didn't keep referencing some mysterious pdf that I didn't figure out how to access until just now, and couldn't have looked at even if I had figured out how to access it earlier because I was driving. I feel that if your book depends heavily on visuals, then it might not be a great choice to make it an audiobook. ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I remember thinking, Maybe I should try being white? I mean, what does it really entail - wainscoting?"

This book is part memoir and part social justice manifesto.

Negin Farsad shares her voice as an Iranian-American, Muslim, and a comedian. She shares why she identifies as a hyphenated American and shares her struggles and victories of being a brown woman in Southern California and the rest of the world.

Farsad is funny and poignant and shares heartfelt insights on being the child of immigrant
Haley Mathiot
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It was clever and hilarious, and there were lots of great stories. Farsad brought a lot of heavy topics to the table, but in a way that showed the problem without pointing fingers and hating. I laughed the whole time and really enjoyed myself. Farsad referenced her documentary and comedy show The Muslims Are Coming quite a bit. I have totally added it to my To-Watch list. See the trailer below. - See more at: ...more
Zee Monodee
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Got the feeling the author was trying a little too hard to drive her point across ... Like, you're Muslim and non-White and also non-Black - okay, we get it; you don't have to keep harping it every single time at every single juncture in every little aspect of your life! I'm a Muslim myself, and I hoped this book would be more along the lines of inclusion and 'Muslims are normal people, too', but in trying too hard to point out that she was 'different' everywhere, well, heck, she does turn out t ...more
Heather Munao
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir, race
Cute and light-hearted memoir/ reflections on her hyphenated identity, her affinity with others’ struggles, and how being female and Muslim affect her career. The parts that made me legitimately laugh out loud was in the chapter on college at Cornell, and the part where she said, “I don’t give a flying fuck or an earthbound one either.” There were a couple moments that made me think, like about systemic segregation in housing at Cornell and about domestic terrorists. This book reminded me of Luv ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Negin Farsad is an Iranian-American comedian who wrote a book! It’s SOOOO funny! I laughed out loud! I listen to her podcast (Fake the Nation)! I love her and you might too!

Some things to look forward to:
- Fake statistics like corporate office demographics in Manhattan based on a sample size of 1
- Learning what a TED conference is really like (free Popchips!)
- Life in Palm Springs aka imitating the Taco Bell chihuahua to make Mexican friends

What I’m trying to say is the book is really excellent
Anne Libera
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. A lot. Negin Farsad is a girl comedian so we have that in common and I want to be her best friend (or at least add her to the amazing ranks of young female comedians that I know and enjoy spending time with). But also, she has something to say and she says it with huge compassion and positivity. So I also want all the young female comedians that I know and enjoy spending time with to read this book. And she's funny. ...more
This has some humorous parts, but not really in a laugh out loud sort of way. There are also some thoughtful meditations on race and social justice, but there are also glib musings, and the whole book feels a little disorganized. Farsad shines best when talking about her life as a marginalized female Muslim comic.

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Making her parents’ plea for immigration all the easier, Negin Farsad was born in the United States, growing up in the desert of Southern California. She first obtained a Bachelors Degree in Theatre Arts and Government from Cornell University. Her dual interest in the arts and politics continued when she moved to New York City – studying for a Masters degree in Race Relations at Columbia Universit ...more

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