Laughter Posted on Nov 21, 2011 by Susan Sparks

Comedy Act Breaks Stereotypes

Originally published by Rebecca Ryan in The State News.

To the Rev. Susan Sparks, heaven and earth, platypus and blowfish, Jerry Springer and Jerry Falwell all mean one thing.

“God has a sense of humor,” Sparks said.

Sparks, who is Baptist, with comedians Rabbi Bob Alper, who is Jewish, and Azhar Usman, a Muslim, performed their stand-up comedy as part of their Laugh in Peace Comedy Show Monday in the Union Ballroom.

The trio has traveled around the world together to share their beliefs and laughs.

Several student groups sponsored the event, including the Jewish Student Union, the Arab Cultural Society, the MSU Campus Interfaith Council, MSU Ask Big Questions ,MSU Hillel and the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives.

The show, a free event which drew a crowd of about 300, was an event meant for students from all cultural backgrounds, said Sam Appel, head of engagement with the Jewish Student Union.

“(The show) works to create a safe space … it breaks stereotypes not only in our MSU community, but worldwide,” Appel said.

Psychology sophomore and MSU Ask Big Questions intern Lauren Blazofsky said she agreed that comedy shows like Laugh in Peace are beneficial to students.

“(MSU’s) campus is so big, it is hard to meet people if you can’t get involved,” Blazofsky said. “(This show) provides people with opportunities to open up … and find people with similar interests as you.”

In the show, the three comedians poked fun at stereotypes people have about religious traditions in an effort to overcome cultural barriers, which Appel said he hoped would make people more interested in being friends with people from other backgrounds.

Each was presented separately, but had the similar goal of sharing their faith and bringing humor.
Usman said when he is on stage, his main focus is to make people laugh.

“We tell jokes, and if people attach meaning beyond that, that’s great,” Usman said. “But that’s not for me to do.”

Graduate student Dondrea Jackson said humor is the best way to bring people together because laughing is an ice breaker.

Jackson said the comedy show provided MSU students with a much-needed opportunity to come together despite their differences.

“I don’t know what race doesn’t like to laugh (and) doesn’t like to enjoy themselves with their friends and make new friends,” Jackson said.

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