Funny Sitcoms Are Ahmed Ahmed's Business...And Business is Good
Ahmed Ahmed is much more than an Egyptian lover (even though he's quite lovely) because he's been hitting the stand-up circuit for quite some time and has been acting even longer. While fans these days are loving his role of tow truck driver "Ahmed Nassar" on Sullivan & Son (which returns June 24th), we still dig the role he plays as microphone commander when he's front and center on the comedy stage. On June 27th through 29th, you'll get a chance to see these two world collide when Ahmed, Steve Byrne, Roy Wood Jr., and Owen Benjamin hit up the Irvine Improv to bring the laughter directly to you. Since we've never had the chance to talk to him personally, we grilled him about some TV show scoop, got some insider info, and found out what he is bringing to the table on and off set.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): It would seem like Sullivan & Son is a ton of fun on and off camera. Best job ever?
Ahmed Ahmed: It's for sure the best job I've ever had. I work with all of my best friends, we are constantly laughing on set every minute of every day, and I get to work with some of the most talented people I've ever worked with. Dan Lauria used to be the father on The Wonder Years and now he plays Steve's dad so he's just a veteran. It's like going to acting class everyday being around that guy. He does have this fatherly thing about him also so people kind of go to him for wisdom. Brian Doyle-Murray is on the show and is just fantastic, Christine Ebersole is a two time Tony award winning actress is there too so it's like we're around all of these veteran actors absorbing all of this talent from them. Jodi Long plays Steve's mom and is a brilliant actress too. She's kind of the base of the show, it's kind of like her show in a lot of ways because she's such a strong character. Then of course you have Steve, Owen, me, Roy, Valarie, and Vivian. It's rare to have ten people all on a sitcom at once so our shoot days can be a little confusing at times but, it's just such a great cast. It really is the best job in the world.
Since you guys are together so much with taping and touring, do you ever get sick of it? I know you're friends and all but still...
I mean, it happens with everyone. If you are with someone too long you start getting a little umm, too used to them. [Laughs.] But we have a special bond and brotherhood. We've toured two years in a row as a group so we all understand each other's personalities and sensibilities. What people like and don't like, who wants to sleep, who wants to work-out or go see a movie. Somebody might want a salad and someone might want a burger. So we all try to find common ground when we are on tour. It's tough enough to tour with four big personalities and four individual headlining comics so thank god none of us have big egos. Our goal is to promote the show and that's just shaking hands, kissing babies, doing radio, taking pictures, signing autographs, and all of that. It's kind of like a political campaign while we are touring.
We're all aware of Steve's incredible dancing skills, has he ever given you a lap dance or do you ever beg him to teach you those moves?
No and no. I won't let him give me a lap dance and I refuse to dance like Steve Byrne. I don't want to be viewed that way. It's embarrassing and shameful. He should be ashamed of himself for dancing like that. [Laughs.]I sense a tinge of jealousy but I get it. You guys are really good to your fans too especially on social media and I think that's really important.
Yeah, we like to live tweet when the TV show is airing with the fans. We're all on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and we really try to take advantage of those platforms to get the word out. It seems to be helping. We start live tweeting the show again when it starts every Tuesday night with bit the east coast and west coast feed. We really care about Sullivan & Son and this season is so funny. There are so many twists and turns and new developments so it's going to be really exciting. We can't wait for the premiere and we hope all of the fans will tune in!
So can you give us any scoop on what the new season has in store for your character?
Well I'll give you a little tidbit. There's an episode where my character and Owen's character really go at it with each other and it's just very funny. It's almost...ummm... [Laughs.] I don't want to give it away but basically, Owen and I go at each other and the way it plays out is really, really hilarious. You know, my character is a guy who is a hopeless romantic. He can never find love but he see's beauty in all women.
Would you say that's pretty true to your personal character as well?
Yeah. I'm in my forties, I'm a hopeless romantic, and I do see beauty in all women. [Laughs.] And, my dad had a tow truck company when I was a kid!
Being that you've done stand-up for so long and it's so off the cuff, is it ever hard for you to stay on script?
You know, it's a different muscle. Scripts will change and sometime you'll get new lines, like every day. I feel like it's still a live audience and we're still looking for laughs but it's a different type of art form. When the writers write for us, we pretty much say what it says. My natural instinct as a comic to start improvising but we don't improvise because we really respect the writing. Since we've been taping, I've been still trying to do some stand-up on the weekends. Like last night, I went up and did about ten minutes of material and like fifteen of crowd work. I pride myself on that because there is a freedom behind it but there is also a lone gunslinger aspect to it because you're alone up there. So it's different art forms but it's still comedy. It's just one thing is a team effort and one is not. One sport if football and one is golf. [Laughs.]
Since you're always changing it up, what do you have in store for Irvine this time around?
I'm trying a bunch of new material this time around. It's more observational stuff but I definitely tap into being in my forties, being single, and trying to date in L.A. There's a little bit of stuff about my family, I have some new premises that are again, more on the observational side. It's going to be a lot of fun. I love Irvine and we comedians really appreciate going there after months of being on a soundstage!
OK last thing and I'll let you go I promise! I want to hear about that documentary you did. I really need to watch it.
Yes! I made this documentary about comedy in the Middle East called "Just Like Us." I shot it in 2009 but it's currently on Starz and I think Showtime right now so you can see it. We're about to go on Netflix too soon. It's a cross-cultural project I made where I took a bunch of American comics to Dubai, Lebanon, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. We performed in front of 20,000 people and shot it as a documentary. It premiered at a few film festivals and it won a few awards. It's also downloadable so you can get it on Apple TV. Just check the website so you can see all of the places you can find it and check it out for sure!
Be sure to tune in to the season premiere of Sullivan & Son June 24th on TBS and catch Ahmed along with the boys at the Irvine Improv June 27th through 29th, 71 Fortune Drive Irvine, CA 92618, (949) 854-5455. For tickets go to www.Improv.com. For more info check out www.AhmedAhmed.com and follow him on Twitter @AhmedComedy.
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