Ramy Youssef: More Feelings (2024) | Transcript

Ramy Youssef returns to HBO with his second comedy special filmed in front of a live audience at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, New Jersey on February 2 and 3.

Ramy Youssef: More Feelings (2024)

Released date: March 23, 2024 (Max)

* * *

I–I can’t tell you how honored I am to have this opportunity. My doctors told me I wouldn’t live past 18, and now I’m 33 doing– thank you.

[cheers and applause]

I’m doing what I love, make people laugh, telling my story. And every day is such a gift. I’m so blessed. And I really wish I was dead. [laughter]

Guys, the world is terrible. No one can afford food, rent, health care. The planet is on fire. Why would I want to be here? The only reason why I’m here is because I can’t physically kill myself. [laughter]

And my bitch friends– [laughter]

Ramy– aren’t man enough to do it for me. [dramatic music]

[cheers and applause]

♪ ♪ I–I–I’ve been doing– I’ve been doing these charity shows, uh, the–the whole tour for the last few months. All the proceeds have gone to humanitarian aid in Gaza, which has been–

[cheers and applause]

Look, it–here’s the thing. I–I actually don’t like doing charity shows. It–it comes from a loving place, but people always get upset at the charity you chose, at the group you chose. Like, I did this first charity show last year. It was for the earthquake victims in Syria and Turkey. Remember that? Likelike, four disasters ago. I felt so good about myself, but no, right away, I’m getting cooked in the inbox. Cooked. By the Muslims. First DM, I look, I see it right there. It just says, “Brother.” I’m like, “Fuck.” [laughter]

That’s when you know. Anytime somebody calls you “brother” who’s not family, they’re gonna fuck you. Like, that’s– they’re calling you “brother,” that’s lube. [laughter]

They want to call you family so they can fuck you only like family could. Right away, “Brother, “well, well, well, Mr. Hollywood. “Look who finally decided to donate to charity. Where were you when the floods happened in Pakistan?” [laughter, cheers] I was like, “I gotta cover everything?” Like, we’re dealing with the earthquakes. I gotta do the floods? Like, I gotta be, like, the mayor of Muslim disaster? Next–next message right away. “You didn’t post about the women in Iran,” which was messed up, because I did. So I start writing back. And I’m like, “I posted about those women.” And she goes, “Nah. That was Story.” “Grid is real feminism.” You know, I was thinking about this guy’s message. It really–it really got to me. I started thinking– I was like, “Where was I when the floods happened in Pakistan?” I was dry. Likelike, and I think that– and I think that everyone here was, and that’s the problem. It’s hard to care about a flood when you’re dry, right? Like, the whole world is wet, and we’re dry. And I understood what he was trying to say. I could tell, like, at the bottom of the question was, he’s asking–he’s like, “Hey, do you hate Pakistanis?” Which is messed up, ’cause I love Pakistanis. Are there any here? [cheers and applause]

Yeah. Where were you? Likelike, none– [laughter]

You were nowhere near it. You had nothing to do with it. You were just as dry as me. And–and that’s– I felt for this guy, though, ’cause I felt like he was in Pakistan. You know, like, there was no location on his thing, but he had, like, foreign Instagram. [laughter]

You can tell when someone’s not in this country. Like, they post a lot of flowers and… It’s hard. It’s hard when you want to do the right thing, but you know you can’t help everybody. And then everyone wants something from you, right? And–and–and–and it’s– and it’s weird the– the requests. Like, I had a– I did a show a couple weeks ago. Taylor Swift comes to the show, right? It was–was really exciting. Then I get a call from one of my buddies from the mosque, and he goes, “You were with Taylor Swift “for a whole night. Did she convert?” Like, I’m supposed to make her Muslim in what– like, that takes prison. Likelike, that’s not– that’s like when you don’t have parole. You’re like, what are the Muslims doing? Like, let me check that out. I was supposed to do it in a night? But I don’t even feel like— I don’t feel the representation thing in the way that Muslim women do. Like, hijabis– where–any hijabis here?

[cheers and applause]

You’re the troops, straight up. Walking around with headscarves, like, everyone will ask you questions. That’s–there’s nothing like a hijabi. The best–like, what you have to go through, the things you gotta answer. Muslim dudes, like, if we can, we’re just– we’re going back to being Dominican. Like, we don’t give a– like, with everything going on, we’re just like, “Hamas? No, no, no, no más. No, no más.” I mean, like, we’re no– we’re not even– I’m not saying “habibi” till 2050. Like, I don’t give a fuck. [laughter]

It’s weird times, man. People are scared of us, still. I thought it was over, but the brand is weak. They’ll believe anything about us. Like, we need a re-brand. We gotta–we gotta start fixing stuff. I’m done apologizing. I’m done saying that we’re peaceful. For 20 years, we’ve had to prove to people that we’re safe, right? Every time you turn on CNN, there’s, like, some Arab dude talking about how Islam means peace. You know that guy? But he’s always shouting it. He’s always like, “We come in peace!” You’re like, “Bro, that’s the slogan for aliens.” That’s what aliens say before they take over the fucking planet, bro. I’m done. I’m done saying sorry. We gotta just start inventing new shit. We have–and the problem is with Arabs too, we’re like, “We invented everything.” We’re so cocky. Arabs are like, “We invented math.”

[cheers and applause]

No, read the room. Everybody hates math. Math is over. We need a car. We need a fast Muslim car. Just some crazy shit. We need something new, dude. Turkey’s killing it. Turkey, yeah. What do you think– what do Americans think of when they think of Turkey? Hair transplants. Right away. [laughter]

That government’s crazy. But everyone’s like, “Yeah, I think I’m gonna go to Turkey for the summer.” Your boy comes back after about a year. You’re like, “You look good, dude.” And he’s like, “Yeah, Istanbul was beautiful.” That’s what we need. Every country, pick a body part. Let’s go. We need to like— just come to the Middle East. Get hot. You know? Like, come on down to Syria. Get a–get a new dick. Like, get a big old– we’ll give you a big dick, bro. Come to Syria. [laughter]

These are just ideas. Like I said, I’m not the representative. We need new shit, ’cause people still keep putting us, like, in this position, in this weird spot where they doubt us. October 10th, I got a call from a guy I know, and he goes, “Yo, bro, where are you at with Hamas?” Like, where am I at? Like, are we fucking? What’s the–am I a member? You think any of us like what happened on October 7th? It’s awful. We hate seeing people die. It’s inhumane. It made me cry. And it always does. It’s why we’ve been talking about Palestine our whole lives. We hate what’s happening there. We want justice. We want peace. And–we do.

[cheers and applause]

So of course I don’t like it. Now I gotta prove to you that I’m not violent? Like, you think that’s what’s in my heart? You know me. You think, like, I’m like Hamas– like, bro, I’m a– I’m a Taliban guy. Likelike, that’s– [laughter]

That’s a real group. That’s–they’ve been going for 20 years. You know what I’m saying? Like, they’re strong. They don’t let anybody go to school. Like, that’s– Hamas is letting people go to school. I don’t like that. Like, I–I hate school. I resent the question. I resent the question. And you can feel the divide. You feel the division, you know? And it’s so much closer than you think. Like, I don’t believe in the South. Everyone thinks that’s where there’s a different point of view. No, the South is 25 minutes from wherever you think isn’t the South. Like, I had a show in upstate New York. I got in this dude’s car. Just MAGA’d out. I was in the South. I went north, but I was south. And I could tell I was scared, ’cause my mom called, and I didn’t want to speak Arabic on the phone. Like, I could feel it. I was acting so weird. She was like… [speaking Arabic] And I was like, “Mother, peace be upon you.” Like, I–and the prophet. [laughter]

You know which prophet. Like, don’t make me say which prophet. The–the one. The–come on, the last one. The best one. It’s palpable. But I don’t–I don’t like the pressure on any of us. And I can feel it coming too, ’cause it’s an election year. I know Biden’s gonna call me. [laughter]

I know he’s gonna call me, dude. He–like, he’s getting desperate. They called me in 2020. I got a call from Muhammad at Biden. Of course, right? And you know they think that’s clever. Like, they’re at headquarters. Ben’s about to call, and they go, “No, no, no, no, no, let Muhammad do it. Give him that habibi energy.” I get on the phone with him right away. He goes, “Ramy, habibi.” I’m like, “Hey, brother. Uh…” [sighing] He goes, “Man, we’re so proud of you, dude. Everything you’ve done for Arab America.” And he said it like it’s a country. “We love your show. “Everyone on the campaign loves it. I mean, Joe’s aware.” That’s huge, right? ‘Cause Joe has an awareness issue. Like, Joe’s aware. That’s like a Nobel Peace Prize. That’s…

[cheers and applause]

No, they’re like, “We said your name. “Joe was nodding. “There’s cognitive function. It’s really exciting, man.” You ever see Joe when he’s aware, like when he’s really locked in? Like, there’s some days when he comes out. He’s, like, thawed. [laughter]

You can tell they gave him an extra 10 in the microwave. He looks good. And he says stuff. It’s inspiring. It doesn’t mean anything, but it’s just like, it’s America, you know? He’ll be like, “I ride the train.” Yeah, OK. Where’s it going? And he’s like, “Thanks, folks.” Like, what the fuck? Where’s the train going, Joe? You never find out. He can’t help it. I’m not even calling him old. I don’t like making fun of old people. He’s always been like this. Biden just has crazy substitute teacher energy. [laughter]

You can feel it. Like, he walks into Congress. The Republicans are just like, “Gay!” You’re like, “Guys, you can’t say it like that anymore.” But yeah, I mean, remember we used to say “gay” in sixth grade? It did not mean homosexual. It just meant gay. And he is sixth grade gay, for sure. He’s our first gay president. I think it’s beautiful. It’s very beautiful to see a gay man lead. I hate the way gay people are being used now too. They’re trying to divide us. They’re using everyone’s identity. Like, the whole world has seen, right? Like, all this bombing is happening, and it always boils down to some random thing where they’ll be like, “Do you think Hamas likes gay people?” And my gay friends don’t fall for it. It–like, ’cause it makes no sense. It’s like, so you think everyone you’re bombing is just straight? Like, all of Gaza’s straight. Like, there’s not one Gay-zan. And–and this country doesn’t even care about gay people. They started caring, like, three years ago when trans people scared them into it. Half the country was like, “Can we just get regular gay, or…” We miss them. I don’t fall for any of it. They love dividing us. Letting us just fight while they figure out their stuff. So I have this in my head, as Muhammad’s pitching me. He goes, “Ramy, dude, we’re looking at this map. “It’s a crazy map, brother. “We’ve got all these battleground states. “We don’t know which ones we’re gonna win, “but we’ve realized if we can win just one, “we’ll get the whole country. “The only state we need– “Michigan. Arab America.” He goes, “Ramy, go to Michigan. “Tell the Arabs to vote for Joe. You could change the course of American history.”

And our country’s so fucked up that for five minutes, I was like, “Is it up to me?” Like, am I the guy? Like, I started imagining it. Like, I’m in Dearborn. I’m courting the Arabs. I’m at every vape shop. I’m just like, “Bro, bro… Joe, Joe.” I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it, man. Nah. We’re–I’m done. I don’t like him. I can’t do it. And–and–and I’m not saying that I want Trump. I–I’m not. I don’t like being forced to pick between the two. But I’m watching my uncle go full Republican. We–you know? Like, I’m seeing it. He likes that they’re religious. My uncle cares a lot about religion. Like, he doesn’t pray or follow anything, but it– [laughter]

It means a lot to him. It’s very important. So you can see him doing the math. He’s like we’re more like them than we are like they. What does this have to do with they? What does this have to do with they? Leave they alone. This isn’t about any of that. It’s so clear the lines that are being drawn. They’re trying to tell me I’m supposed to have a problem with Jewish people. They throw this whole thing– Muslim-Jewish holy war. I’m like, I don’t know what you’re talking about. When I grew up, my best friends were Jewish. I grew up in a town. There were two Muslim families, three Jewish families, and we were bound by that– that Christmas-less-ness. You know that feeling? You know when you just know the truth? Like, everyone’s like, “Santa’s coming.” You’re like, “Dude, no, he’s not. “Like, what that fuck? “That’s a capitalist lie. You’re a fucking corporate pig.” It’s so hard not doing Christmas in this country. It’s like you just don’t get to have an imagination. It’s so hard as a Muslim. Like, it’s the biggest temptation I have. Do you have any idea how much I want a Christmas tree? But I don’t do it. I don’t do it for God. Any Muslims here with a Christmas tree?

[cheers and applause]

I don’t know how you explain that to God. That’s a crazy sin. Like, if you drank at the bar today, he’d be like, “All right, peer pressure.” But you brought a tree into your house? That’s wild. Like, that–that messes up the environment. There’s so many steps to that. That’s a premeditated sin. No, we never had Christmas trees. I didn’t. My Jewish friends didn’t. And–and then, when I got older, I loved dating Jewish girls. I–I did. I’ll be honest. I don’t anymore ’cause I’m married now. So yeah.

[cheers and applause]

Thank you. Uh, my wife is from Saudi Arabia. [silence] Yeah.

[cheers and applause]

No, don’t–no. No. I heard it. [laughter]

I heard the Saudi silence. Even the Muslims in the room are like, “Why didn’t you marry the–the Jewish girls?” That–that would have been– that would have made more sense, just like, people of the book, you know, we’re… It’s so crazy too, ’cause her– her family’s so sweet. They’re amazing. Like, they found out about us. They came over. Her dad had questions for me. I had questions for him. He was like, “What are your intentions with my daughter?” I was like, “What happened to Jamal Khashoggi?” And… [laughter]

And he told me. He told me. And it’s–it’s a total misunderstanding. Like, it’s not even what you think–what you thought. OK, if you don’t know, Jamal Khashoggi was a journalist who was brutally murdered. What happened to him was absolutely inhumane. And my wife had nothing to do with it. And I know, because I asked her. I still ask her. Like, I–I still– ’cause anyone who’s married knows it takes a really long time to get to know somebody, right? It takes an even longer time to get to know what they know about Jamal Khashoggi. And I don’t want her, like, canned answer. You know, ’cause people don’t talk anymore. Like, there’s just talking points. So I try to catch her when she’s vulnerable, like when I know she’s not gonna be ready. Really vulnerable moments, right? Likelike when she’s driving. You know, it’s new for her, and… It is. She didn’t grow up doing it. She–she hates merging. So like, we’ll be going on the highway, and I’ll be like, “What happened to Khashoggi?” And she’s like, “What the fuck?” Like… I’m like, “What is that? Is that–you know something, or is that the merge?” Or like, middle of the night. You know, you’re, like, cuddling with your girl. You just, like, get up in her ear, and I’m just like, “Khashoggi. Tell me the truth. What happened to Khashoggi?” “Where’s the body?” Just, like, a little foreplay. And she’s like, “What are you doing? What are you doing? Stop. I don’t know anything.” She doesn’t know. And my friends are so scared. One of my friends was like, “I can’t believe her family’s still there. “We need to save them. Let’s start a Kickstarter to get them out.” And I was like, “I mean, they would donate more than anybody.” They–they don’t need the money. But she was like, “But her mother. How could she be there the way they treat women?” And this was, like, one month after Roe v. Wade. Remember when we were just like, “Wade won”? And I go to her, “You know that you can get an abortion in Saudi anywhere, the whole country?” I mean, she started looking up flights. Like, she… Couldn’t believe it. My friends couldn’t believe it. And so when they see her, it’s like, you know, they’re– they’re learning something new. That’s what’s beautiful sometimes about dating someone different. You learn something new. So I loved dating Jewish girls, ’cause every time I did, I was always like, “Yo, let’s solve it tonight.” Like, fuck the UN. It’s you and me. [laughter]

We can do this. You ever so horny you’re like, “I could figure out Palestine”?

I was on a date with this girl, right? We go to her house. She’s got roommates. She told me. But you know the roommate house? You know? You walk in. There’s just shoes. It’s like the shoe section at the mosque. It’s like, wet flip-flops– like, everything. We go in her room. It’s dark. I can’t see anything. We’re in there for a few minutes. You know, haram. She gets up to go to the bathroom. As she leaves, she turns on the light. This is the first time I’m seeing the room. And right in front of me on the wall is a huge flag of Israel. And I’m scared. The only thing that would’ve scared me more is an American flag. Can you imagine seeing an American flag inside? That’s crazy. That belongs outside. When it’s inside, I go outside. That flag needs sun and wind. It can’t just be fucking hanging out under an LED. Like, no. I don’t want to see any flag inside. No country. The Muslim countries, they’re crazy. They don’t do anything. No, no–like, unless you’re Hispanic. I–that flag, if I see any of those, I’m just like, “I hope your soccer team’s doing well.” I’m really rooting for you. You know? Like, I don’t even think they have armies. I think they just play soccer. If you win, you get the oil. Like, that feels like the stakes when I’m watching. Like, this must be about oil. They’re way too passionate about this. So I’m in there. I’m looking at this flag. And I’m horny, so I’m trying to justify it. Like, I’m looking at it, and I’m like, she– she told me she was Jewish. This is just– it’s the Star of David. That’s their logo. It’s just Jewish, but big. Like, what if she doesn’t know? And then I’m like, she probably knows. All right. So I’m like, OK, when she comes back, we’re gonna talk about it. And I’m ready. You know when you know you’re about to get into that conversation? Like, you know, like, I’m always excited. Like, I want to defend. And I’m ready, but then there’s this part of my brain that’s like, fuck, like, I wish I read more, you know? ‘Cause I’ll always be in these arguments. And like, people have facts. And I just have vibes. They’ll be like, “In 19–da-da-da-da.” And I’m just like, “Bro, the vibe is off. “Like, look at this picture. Like, what the–what are you talking about?”

The problem is I don’t know how to read. I’m not even saying that– I straight up don’t know. Like, every time I read, the only thing I can think about is the fact that I’m reading. Do you ever feel that? Likelike, I’ll read a page, and my brain isn’t taking in the information. I’m just so proud. Three pages in, all I’m thinking is, “Yo, I read. “Dude, I’m a book guy. “Fuck, dude, I’m so smart. “It’s so wild. “Like, my friends are dumb. “It’s weird. “They’re just on TikTok. “I read. “It’s wild. I gotta show them what I’m doing.” I take out my phone. I take a picture of, like, a good paragraph, right? Page six. Start sending it to all the boys. I’m like, “Boys, time to read. “We gotta read, dude, like, it’s just–it’s– it’s an ancient art form.” And then I fall asleep. Every single time. Every single time I read, I fall asleep without brushing my teeth, and I have three cavities, just unfinished books sitting in my mouth. I’ve–I’ve never been able to read. Biggest lie I ever told as a kid was about reading. You know that lie you tell that, like, makes you a liar? I’ll–I’ll never forget this. I–we had a book report. I picked “Gandhi.” Big. It was, like, a 450-page book.

Even the teacher was like, “Dude, I don’t– I don’t think you can do this.” I had a month to read and write the thing. I started reading the book the night before it’s due. And I think I can do it. You know that–that– like, you get home at 3:00. You’re like, “I got this.” 6:00 p.m., you’re like, “No problem.” 8:00, fine. The second it hits 10:00 p.m., double digits, the walls start closing in. And I’m panicking. And I’m like, “Fuck, I needed a month.” So I had the first few pages, right? They’re me. Like, I wrote them. They’re mine. In my mind, I’m like, “Yo, there’s no way “this teacher is gonna, like, read this whole thing. “He’s got so many students. He’s just gonna figure out what’s going on up top, so I’ll just make it long, and then he won’t know.”

So I start violently copy-pasting from all over the internet. I mean, it’s crazy. Some of these paragraphs have links. One of them ends with, “Buy at Barnes and Noble today.” But I make it big. And then I put it in the plastic. Remember the plastic binding? Yo, I walk in the next day. I’m looking at all these reports. Nobody’s got plastic. I start talking shit. I’m like, “This is crazy. Look at all these naked book reports.” I hand mine to the teacher. I’m like, “Check this out. “Look, I put a–look, I put a little hijab on it.” Look how modest and beautiful this is. The second I hand it in, the paranoia sets in, right? I’m like, “Yo, I’m gonna get caught. My parents are gonna find out.” This is a very real fear. And there’s a stereotype that immigrant parents are hard on their kids and their grades. You know it. You feel it. But–but it–they should be, because think about what they gave up. My dad sees his mother every five years so that I can get a better education than he did. And I refuse to be educated. [laughter]

Like, I want to be dumb. And the way this guy works, he works so hard. I feel for my dad, man. We get home that day. I’m sitting there. We’re eating dinner in silence, right? Always. He never–he– he can’t talk after work. You see that– that look on your dad? It’s like his forehead– it’s like, I feel like if I talk, he’ll die. Like, if he hears my shrill voice, he will die. Not a single word in the whole meal. But if there’s a guest, well, now Dad can’t shut the fuck up. I mean, this could be a stranger. A stranger shows up, all of a sudden, my dad has a personality. One time, we were at Olive Garden. We’re sitting. We’re having our meal. The waiter comes. He takes my dad’s card. He looks at it, and he goes, “Oh, your last name is Youssef. I have a friend named Youssef.” My dad goes, “Actually, our real last name is Metwally, “but we changed it to Youssef when we came over because we thought it would be easier to say.”

And I was like, “What?” I didn’t know my name until Olive Garden. And my dad’s sitting here telling this guy stuff about his immigration story, uncles I’ve never heard of, all to Alex at Olive Garden. The guy goes to handle the check. I go after him, and I say, “Hey, man, when you get back to the table, could you ask my dad if he likes me?” He just really seems to trust you. Yeah, maybe ask him what he wants for his birthday. Uh, he says we’re the gift, but I–I don’t think we are. We’re sitting in silence eating. The phone rings. I know. My dad puts it on speaker. It’s the teacher. He says, “Sir, I’m sorry to disrupt your dinner, but I’m reading this book report, and it’s clear your son didn’t write it. “Now, I don’t want to upset you, so what I like to offer the parents is, why don’t you come by, pick up the report? You read it. You tell me if you think he wrote it. I’ll be here late all week. I read every single report.”

I’m like, “Dude, what a fucking loser.” Like… I’m like, you read every report? Like, bro, get a wife. You don’t even get paid. Like, these guys– like, you work on tips. I go to my mom. You try to keep everything from your parents, but if something’s gotta be– you go to Mom. You can work with Mom, right? Mom’s negotiating deals left and right. Things are happening. Curfews are being lifted. Outfits are being approved. Dad’s at work. He’s got his principles. He’s got his values. Mom’s at home, and she’s like, “I think we could change a lot of those.” You can work with me. She would tell me what to say every single time. And I would say exactly what she said. And when I finished saying it, she’d go… [gasps] Like she’d never heard any of it before. Like I was this disgusting thing they raised. So she goes, “When he comes home, “tell him what’s for dinner. I made all his favorites,” right? And I’m–I’m ready. Like, I’m–I’m– my dad comes to the door. I’m like the most nervous maître d’ ever. I’m like, “Sir, oh, my God, “we’ve got a culinary experience. “I mean, we’re gonna take you down the Nile. It’s gonna be beautiful.” He goes, “I’m not hungry.” I retreat back to the kitchen. I tell my mom, he’s not hungry. She says, “That’s not good.”

We’re waiting. I’m just waiting to die. I’m like, I hope it’s quick. We believe in halal. It’ll be a clean cut. Half hour goes by. I start to peek out of the kitchen. I go into the living room, and I see my dad in my book report. But he’s actually so close that I realize it’s, like, open, and it’s on his neck. It’s just going up and down, and then it hits me. I’m like, he–he fell asleep. Like, my dad doesn’t know how to read either. [laughter]

It’s so exciting. My mom’s like, “Yes! Let’s eat upstairs!” She starts packing up our food like we’re leaving Cuba. Like, we got bags. We’re taking bags from the kitchen. She hands a plate to my sister up the stairs. She turns around, hands me a fork, but as she does, it slips through my fingers, clangs on the steps. My dad shoots awake. You know that feeling when you see your dad’s eyes, and he’s been awoken? Like, a dad’s allowed to be awake, but not awoken. It’s like, you could see a raccoon at night, but not at lunch. It’s sick. He goes, “Come here.”

He says, “You know what I realized? “I don’t need to judge this book report when the only judge is Allah.”

[laughter, cheers]

No, and then he goes, “Swear to God that you wrote this.” Now, that’s cra– that’s hard for me. I believe in this. I believe in this now more than ever. There has to be an unseen, because I can’t believe in anything I’m seeing. The world is so crazy, there has to be. So I–I really– I try not to lie. I try to be the best Muslim I can. I’m trying to hit all five. You know, we’ve got– we got five prayers. I try to hit them all, but it’s–it’s– it’s with the sun. The schedule is tight. And sometimes you’re out, and you gotta pray. And you gotta find a spot, but you don’t want to do it in front of other people. You don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable, you know? So Muslims, we’ll– we’ll find places that are out of the way. We’ll find weird spots like under a bridge, an alleyway. Like, we pray where people do drugs. You ever, like, kick a needle, put down a mat? One time I’m in an alleyway in Chicago. I get up off the mat. I turn around. There’s two dudes on the mat with me, on crack, straight–just straight crack looking at me. And they’re saying, “Brother, let’s fly to Allah.” This guy starts going up. He thinks it’s a magic carpet. He’s ready. It was beautiful. I–I let him lead. This stuff means so much. So when your parents use it against you, it’s hard. And I’m a kid. And I’m being asked this scary question. And when you’re a kid, you’re way more afraid of your dad than God, right? ‘Cause what do you learn about religion? They’re like, God is the most gracious, most merciful. Sick. ‘Cause this guy is… like, no merciful. I mean, there’s no mercy. Yeah, I’m gonna lie. I’ll deal with God later.

I go, “This is my favorite book. Best book I ever read.”

My dad goes, “That’s all I needed to hear.”

Next day, we go to the school. My dad says the weirdest lie I’ve ever heard. Walks up to the teacher and goes, “Sir, this is the most beautiful book report “I have ever read. And I have read many.”


And then he goes, “We love Gandhi.” So many lies. All ’cause of my lie, I’m watching these men just lie. So much shame. It was really like— and it–and it never– like, I think of all the guilt, all the shame I felt in my life for so many different things, just the things we feel as we do things that we don’t want to do or that challenge who we are. But all my guilt, it all started with Gandhi. And I’ve never told my dad, which is hard, because he’s like my best friend now. Like, we–we talk about every– you know when your dad, just all of a sudden, is like, “I’m done”? “Now I just complain more than you.” I bring him to stuff. Like, I brought him to this– this Hollywood thing, you know? And he put on a suit. He had a little bow tie. This person I work with comes up to him and goes, “Sir, you should be so proud of your son. “He’s one of the best writers that I’ve ever worked with. I just love reading his work.” And my dad has the biggest smile on his face. And he goes, “Sir, the thing is, “Ramy has always been “such an advanced writer. “He was so good that the school couldn’t believe… how well he wrote about Gandhi.” No, this is my dad’s favorite story about me. It’s–it’s–it’s… I have this dream. It’s like a recurring dream where I’m dead. It’s the day of judgment. All of what I did on Earth is getting added up– the good, the bad. I’m even, 50/50. I look up at God. Gandhi walks in. [laughter]

[sighs] God goes, “Tell me what you know about him.” And I’m like, “Um, uh, he was non-violent. “He led a non-violent movement. “That’s all I know. “Except… Gandhi hit his wife.” You guys know that? Yeah, he–I–I skimmed it. Bad to women. Bad, weird shit. So I go, “Gandhi hit his wife! Why don’t we talk about that?” And God goes, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, “you can’t just shout feminist things and not read. This isn’t Earth.” [laughter, applause] And… At the end of the dream, I– I–I still go to heaven. I do. God goes, “You’re– you’re a liar, but… “you never had a Christmas tree. Get up there.” That’s–that’s all God cares about. So I could never read, man. So I’m in this girl’s room. I’m looking at this flag. I’m thinking about Gandhi, as I often do. She comes back. We start talking about it. We get into it. And you know what those conversations are like. They’re weird, because at the core, it feels like everybody wants the same thing. Nobody likes violence. Everyone wants to feel seen. Everyone wants to feel safe. But–but there’s too many emotions. So like, the facts don’t even add up. It’s just such an emotional conversation, ’cause everybody has their programming, right? She has her programming. I have my programming. Mine’s right. I talk to my therapist about a lot of this. Uh… Emotional thoughts that come to my head. I like going to therapy. I’m the only one in my family who does. You feel that, you know? You ever try talking to them about it? My uncle looks at me like I’m crazy. He makes me think the therapy I’m doing is stupid, the way he phrases it. He’ll be like, “Wait, you pay a guy to talk? “Talk to me. Pay me.” I’m like, “Yeah, but I’m talking to him because of you.” Like, that… That made him cry. That made him cry. Not ’cause of the emotional damage. He just–he couldn’t believe he created an expense. He was like, “I cost you money?”

Tried to get my mom to go. I got her to do the consultation. You know, the–the therapist, just to try it out. I’m like, “How’d it go, Mom?” She goes, “She–she was so nosy.” My dad, he’ll call me. He’ll complain to me for, like, an hour. “This is what your mother’s doing, and I can’t get her to stop.” He’ll tell me all his suspicions, you know? Like, “The neighbor, he’s FBI.” And then at the end of the call, sarcastically, he’ll be like, “I wonder what your little therapist would say about that.” Then he calls me the next day, and he says, “So what did he say? “What’s the plan? How do I–how do I talk to your mom?” My dad thinks my therapy is like a Verizon family plan. I’ve got cousins calling. My sessions don’t even make sense. The therapist is like, “How’s work going?” I’m like, “It’s good, but what do you do when your children leave?” He goes, “You have kids?” I’m like, “Dude, I have menopause. “I have shit that we gotta figure out. My mother’s body’s changing.” They don’t believe in it. They don’t believe in anything that costs too much money. But weird things too. Like, my dad doesn’t believe in homeless people. Anyone have that with their dad? Like, he thinks they’re not actually homeless. They’re all pretending. We’re walking. I try to give this dude money. I–I reach. My dad grabs my hand, and he goes, “This guy’s got more money than both of us.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” He’s like, “He doesn’t pay taxes. He keeps everything in the cup. He’s an actor like you.”

You should have seen this guy. Like, he didn’t even have legs. My dad’s like, “No, no, no. He’s got more legs than both of us.” He’s convinced the cardboard is above a manhole. He goes, “We wait. We wait till midnight. “You’ll see right at 12:00. He starts hopping, hopping around New York.” This is why I’m in therapy. I go with my wife. Anyone go with their partner to therapy? – Whoo! – Whoo! Yeah, a couple. It’s… [laughter]

People think it’s– people think it’s weird. My friends are likelike, “Bro, why are you going so soon? “You’re supposed to go later, likelike, after you cheat.” That’s why I want to go now. I want to–I want to know how to do it. ‘Cause you see people get in fights, right? They–they don’t talk for, like, four days. And then just on the fifth day, they start talking to each other. It’s–and I don’t want to lose those days. I was like, what if those four days could just be like four hours? What if they could be four minutes ’cause I know how to be? So we go together. And it’s great, ’cause we get all these tools. The therapist is like, “I’m giving you tools ’cause you’re working on the relationship.” So we got this toolbox. So I’m sitting. I’m on my phone. I look up at my wife. She looks upset. So I go, let me check in. It’s a tool. I go, “Hey, are you OK?” She goes, “Yeah, I’m fine.” All right, sick. And I go back to my phone. Like, I did what I needed to do. I’m on my phone for, like, three more hours. And then–and then I look up, and she’s still– she looks upset. And I go, let me check in again. I go, “Hey, are you– are you sure you’re OK?” And she goes, “Ramy, I’ve never been better.” I’m like, “Fuck, all right. I’m cooked.” There’s no tool for that. Like, that’s bad. That’s bad, right? Next day, we’ve got therapy. It’s court. Everything’s laid out. She’s got evidence, events, all the stuff that’s happened, all laid out, right? Now I gotta–I’m–I’m upset, ’cause I go, “Why are you bringing this up now? “I checked in. You said you were fine.” And she goes, “No, no, no, no, no. “You only noticed me when I got angry. “I spent the whole week trying to talk to you. “I tried to say something here. “I tried to say something here. “Every single time, you were too busy, or you were tired. You only noticed when I got angry.”

And I was just like, whoa. This is a lot, you know? Like, this feels– I feel very misunderstood. All these events have been misinterpreted. Here, I didn’t mean to blow you off. Here, I was actually scared. I explain every single thing, right? And I’m going long. Like, I’m going 45. I’m eating the whole session, right? ‘Cause I gotta defend my life. I’m gonna take all the time. And then at the end of it, she goes, “You never told me any of that.” And I’m like, “Yeah, I don’t know.” And she goes, “No, no, no, you never express yourself. You never show me the real you unless he’s here.”

And I look at the therapist, and I’m like, “Oh, my God, this is– it’s Alex from Olive Garden.” [laughter]

[cheers and applause]

Like, I’m my father. I can only speak if there’s a white guy in the room. Like, I–I think that’s colonialism. So you know… we start from here.

[dramatic music]

♪ ♪

Thank you for sharing this space. It–it–it almost feels impossible to laugh these days. So to have this with you means a lot. And please just pray however you pray. I–Muslim, Jewish, it’s like— you don’t understand how much I don’t care. Like, last week–last week, I was on a Zoom with three witches. [laughter]

I’m just like, “Ladies, let’s go. We need some spells. Like, fucking potions for Palestine. Whatever you’ve got.”

[cheers and applause]

We need it. And thank you for this. Thank you, New Jersey. Thank you, New Jersey. I love you, New Jersey. Thank you. You guys are amazing. This means a lot. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

[cheers and applause]

♪ ♪ [bright tone]


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read More

Access Our Archive
of Stand-Up Transcripts

Weekly Magazine

Get the best articles once a week directly to your inbox!