Political comedian Negin Farsad will bring her TED talk inspired comedy to Hancher

Part of Hancher’s “Embracing Complexity” series, political comedian Negin Farsad will speak about her unique craft of creating a TED talk style stand-up routine in order to tackle serious issues.


Pedro Barragan, Arts Reporter

Although described as a social justice comedian, Farsad sees herself only as a comic.

“I usually just say I’m a comedian, but people started calling me a political comic,” Farsad said. “Which isn’t exactly right since I’m not doing material about Mitch McConnell’s chins. But I do stuff around issues of justice.” 

Farsad has worked in mainstream areas of comedy, but also focuses on humorizing important cultural issues, which she will bring to Hancher Auditorium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. 

Farsad has held jobs in television where she was assigned to create mainstream humor, like writing “12 jokes about Justin Bieber’s abs.” But Farsad has tackled immigrant rights, Islamophobia, big banks, health care, and all forms of bigotry in her comedy. 

Farsad’s stand up will be a spoof of a TED talk, including a power point to coincide with her jokes. 

“When the TED talks became really popular I was so fascinated by them,” she said. “You would learn something and you would get emotional, and everyone in the audience would give a standing ovation. Because I was a policy nerd, I was a huge fan of power points and graphs. And I love making ridiculous graphs and charts that are comedic, and not necessarily true. So I started integrating that.” 

Although Farsad doesn’t see herself first as a political comedian, UI Department of Theatre Arts lecturer Megan Gogerty explained why comedy goers may see her as such.

“There’s an old saying that the second wave feminist movement in the 1960s and 70s would say is that ‘the personal is political.’ These seem like small and individual issues, but in fact hold together into systems of discrimination and oppression,” Gogerty said. 

Hancher Programming Director Paul Brohan found Farsad to be another great addition to the building’s exciting lineup of their “Embracing Complexity” series.

“We’re very excited about Negin Farsad for her appearance and her presence with us,” Brohan said. “We’ve had a commitment to a program that we call ‘Embracing Complexity’ which is specifically our commitment to highlighting and giving a higher profile to the creative work and artistic output of Islamic culture and Muslims in particular. Negin as a woman, as a comic, as a comedian, writer, director, actor and radio personality is making her own way in the world and contributing and we’re proud to be able to help into raising that profile.”

To coincide with Farsad’s performance, Hancher will host a free screening of Negin’s documentary The Muslim’s are Coming Saturday at 2 p.m.

After her Saturday night performance, Farsad will sign copies of her book How to Make White People Laugh at Hancher with Prairie Lights also in attendance to sell books.