IRVINE, Calif. —  As an Afghan American, Neelab Saraabi feels conflicted thinking about how women in Afghanistan are living under strict restrictions that affect their education, clothing and human rights.

What You Need To Know

  • Mona Shaikh created Minority Reportz in 2015 to provide a platform for South Asian comedians

  • The platform is now being used to bring awareness to the dire situation in the now Taliban controlled Afghanistan

  • A portion of ticket sales from the Comedy Benefit will be donated to Afghan refugees and the Hope B Lit organization assisting those still in the country

“I feel guilty. It’s kind of hard to be grateful for something (where) you have so much abundance and somebody else doesn’t even have an ounce of it,” Saraabi said.

Saraabi’s family left Afghanistan when she was a child and saw how the Taliban had taken over. Now, as she watches from the U.S., she feels compelled to do something about it through her comedy.

“I had the mixed feeling of that girl, that teenage kid who was in Pakistan when the Taliban took over. Plus, that new mom that was watching the twin towers fall. So (I was feeling) both of those fears and anxiety,” Saraabi said.

Saraabi is proud to say that she is the first female Afghan comedian.

She often focuses her acts on politics and current affairs. She is planning to use her platform to roast the Taliban and continue the difficult conversations of what is happening overseas.

Mona Shaikh is also a South Asian comedian who has cultural roots in India, Pakistan and Iran. She created a comedy show called “Minority Reportz” in 2015 to give a spotlight for South Asian comedians like Saraabi to take the stage.

“Comedy is that one space where you don’t want to take up arms. Well, you hope you don’t. Where you talk about a lot of difficult things in a more comfortable setting because you are laughing. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, he says, ‘You make them laugh and then when they open their mouth you slip them the bitter truth.’ I think comedy is that medium,” Shaikh said.

For Saraabi, comedy is a relief and a way to have a lighter conversation about harder topics, but she wants her message to be heard loud and clear. 

“The Taliban haven’t changed, but the Afghan woman have and we’re not going to take it anymore,” Saraabi said.

As the events in Afghanistan remain uncertain, Afghan Americans like Saraabi will keep making people laugh as long as it inspires tough conversations.

“Minority Reportz” held a comedy benefit for Afghanistan at the Caspian restaurant in Irvine on Thursday night featuring standup comedians Saraabi, Sarah Fatemi, Dauood Naimyar, Anu Kalra, Omid Singh and the producer of the show, Mona Shaikh.

More information about how to help Afghan refugees and those abroad can be found here.