HomeHealthRamy Youssef's 'SNL' Monologue Was a Prayer for Peace

Ramy Youssef’s ‘SNL’ Monologue Was a Prayer for Peace

Ramy Youssef introduced a politics of care to his first time internet hosting the present.

Ramy Youssef smiles on the SNL stage while holding a microphone
Will Heath / NBC

Ramy Youssef has spent a lot of his profession mining heartfelt humor from experiences that straddle the sacred and the profane. So it was no shock that the actor, author, and comic opened final night time’s Saturday Night time Reside monologue with an amusingly wide-ranging celebration of worship: “That is an extremely non secular weekend,” he mentioned. “We’re within the holy month of Ramadan. Tomorrow is Easter. And yesterday, Beyoncé launched a brand new album.”

Youssef added that he was wanting ahead to Ramadan partially as a result of Muslims are so loving. Different individuals don’t perceive this about Muslims, he lamented, including that in our divided nation, Muslims face the ramifications of others’ misguided views about them on a regular basis. He recalled an expertise in upstate New York that made him reluctant to talk Arabic on the telephone together with his mom. Surrounded by MAGA flags and different seen indicators of Trump nation, he responded to her normal greeting, assalamu alaikum, with a clumsy anglicization: “I used to be like, ‘Mom, peace be upon you. Like, I—you already know, and the prophet, you already know which prophet. The perfect one, the final one.’”

The burden and worry that many Muslims really feel within the U.S. is a topic of frequent consideration for Youssef. This story of self-censorship, which he additionally recounts in a brand new stand-up particular now enjoying on Max, displays the dissonance between outsiders’ distorted perceptions of Islam and the peacefulness that the Egyptian American comic sees in his personal neighborhood. Mentioning this pressure early in his monologue gave a further layer of that means to the highly effective message that Youssef closed with: “My prayers are sophisticated. I’ve acquired loads to slot in. I’m like, ‘God, please, please assist Ahmed’s household,’” he mentioned, referencing a pal with household in Gaza. “Please cease the struggling. Cease the violence. Please free the individuals of Palestine, please.” After cheers and applause, Youssef continued: “Please. And please free the hostages, all of the hostages, please.”

In its measured, empathetic protection of human life, Youssef’s monologue echoed his earlier statements calling for peace in Palestine and Israel: On the Oscars crimson carpet, for instance, the Poor Issues actor defined that he and others attending the ceremony had chosen to put on Artists4Ceasefire pins as a result of “we actually wanna say ‘Let’s simply cease killing kids.’” On SNL, Youssef took a tone just like the one he’s used to discover the topic in Extra Emotions, his new particular, and in his semi-autobiographical dramedy, Ramy, mixing meditation with comedy. His monologue arrange an episode that continued the present’s heavy give attention to politics this season, together with a chilly open concerning the blasphemous, blatant cash seize of  Donald Trump–branded Bibles and a “Weekend Replace” phase during which Michael Che joked that President Joe Biden was among the many “lesser-known celebrities” at a latest fundraiser for his personal reelection marketing campaign.

However a few of the night time’s finest sketches, which Youssef acted in, had nothing to do with politics in any respect. In a parody advert touting “Ozempic for Ramadan,” Youssef sang the buzzy diabetes drug’s praises—not for weight reduction however for lessening the painful toll of fasting throughout the holy month: “I used to hurry to eat an entire meal earlier than daybreak,” he says, opening a fridge whereas it’s clearly nonetheless darkish outdoors. “Now, I simply seize my prayer beads and Ozempic needle. So long as I shoot up earlier than the solar rises, it’s halal.” The skit additionally introduced within the sequence stalwart Kenan Thompson as a halal cart proprietor struggling to quick whereas serving scrumptious, fragrant meals to his clients. “Ozempic for Ramadan” acquired him over that hurdle, serving to the seller maintain his calm even “when white girls ask if I’ve salmon.”

One other sketch drew on the themes of familial battle that recur all through Youssef’s sequence, Ramy. On the “Immigrant Dad Speak Present,” Youssef and the SNL common Marcello Hernández performed Hahmed Ahmed Mahmoud and Joaquin Antonio, two fathers discussing their kids—“the great ones, and the sons as properly.” Smoking a hookah and a cigarette respectively, the lads bonded over their mutual distaste for his or her sons’ pursuits; they described their boys as ungrateful and impractical, complaining about their want to work on a thesis or pay $2,000 for a cup of espresso in Brooklyn. When Mikey Day joined the lads as a visitor, enjoying an archetypal white sitcom dad, the hosts balked at his declare that his son was his finest pal. “Your son is a chunk of property,” Youssef’s character mentioned in disgust. “Are you buddies with a mailbox?”

Each of those skits highlighted Youssef’s comedic skills and his uncanny skill to seize the absurdities of life in an immigrant or Muslim family. Watching him imbue the characters with bombastic humor and delight, I discovered myself eager to revisit earlier seasons of Ramy. And by the point the episode ended, I used to be already able to rewatch the clever dexterity of his opening monologue.

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