In the comic world, sometimes you need luck to make it big, like a lottery ticket. In the case of Mo Amer, his luck came in the form of an airplane ticket—specifically a first-class upgrade that got him seated next to Eric Trump on a Nov. 2016 flight, just three weeks after the pivotal presidential election. Amer made light of this coincidental meeting between an Islamic comic and the son of a controversial anti-Islamic figurehead, saying on his Instagram that “sometimes God just sends you the material.”
Amer’s encounter with the (at the time, future) President’s son was an amusing happenstance, but it’s hard to be funny about politics right now.
Our government continues to tread backwards in nearly every aspect imaginable, with no regard to the minority populations that have made our country great for generations. The only humor to be found is in the lunacy that presents itself before us every day. Even so, it is few and far between. It’s even harder to come upon when you receive our government’s regression directly.
Amer’s debut Netflix special “The Vagabond” delves into the comic’s experiences surrounding our administration and more in a surprisingly lighthearted and hilarious manner.
In his 55-minute set, Amer tells stories of his travels from his homeland of Kuwait and his (other) homeland of Houston, Texas, but mostly focuses on the process between the two: As a refugee of the first Gulf War, transitions contain a lot to unpack.
Between his immigration as a young child and the granting of his US citizenship in 2009, Amer traveled the world to perform stand-up without a passport. When informed by the airport clerk that his document wasn’t an official passport (which he knew), Amer recalled calmly repeating multiple times that “this wasn’t a passport” and “can you please help me check in?” After one too many prods by the negligent clerk, Amer finally ends the exchange with, “In 1948, the United Nations was founded at created the Geneva Passport that allows refugees and asylum seekers to travel while they’re seeking asylum from their respective countries, but you know what? I’m just going to blow up this whole f****** airport! That’s what I’m going to do.”
Amer tells tales of his complex relationship with his Arab family. On one occasion, his Middle Eastern family sent him back to the states with a bunch of goodies (which families tend to do), but with one big catch—stuffing his suitcases with clear plastic baggies of mulukhiyah, an Arabic plant similar to spinach. Amer proceeded to hilariously lay out the tenuous process of making his way back to the United States with pounds of marijuana-adjacent material—a Herculean task for a gentleman named Mohammed (Mo is short for Mohammed, the first anecdote he drops in the special). At the end of the day, the TSA and its drug-sniffing dog were left immensely confused.
With stories like this and much more, Amer spins our twisted political landscape into something you can smile at, even if just for an hour. If you’re looking for a fiery comedy special that doesn’t hold back, Mo Amer’s superb debut is for you. With on-point takes from everything from the American flag to the refugee process, it is comprehensive yet hilarious. Check it out.
Daniel Cohn is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.