UNSWriting - Race & Comedy: Osamah Sami in conversation with Michael Mohammed Ahmad

When:23 Aug 2017, 6:30pm - 8pm
Venue:Io Myers Studio, UNSW Sydney
Who:Osamah Sami with Michael Mohammed Ahmad
Osamah Sami

Presented by UNSWriting

Michael Mohammed Ahmad (The Tribe) talks with Osamah Sami about life since his book Good Muslim Boy.

Two young Muslim writers talk about the cultural work that comedy can do in addressing issues of race, whiteness, masculinity and minority peoples in contemporary Australia. 

The complex lived experience of Australian multiculturalism often belies the reductionist logic reproduced in mainstream debates. Mohammed Ahmad and Osamah Sami talk about what literature and stand-up comedy bring to these debates and how they reflect the  embodied processes of cross-culturalism at work in the general community.

‘The fact that these events are true beggars belief ... We need someone in the world to be our yardstick, a benchmark by which we may assess our own gaffes and shortcomings. Osamah is our man’
Andrew Knight - award-­winning screenwriter and creator of Sea Change

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The Book

Good Muslim BoyMeet Osamah Sami: a schemer, a dreamer and a madcap antihero of spectacular proportions whose terrible life choices keep leading to cataclysmic consequences … despite his best laid plans to be a Good Muslim Boy.

By the age of thirteen, Osamah had survived the Iran–Iraq war, peddled fireworks and chewing gum on the Iranian black market, proposed 'temporary marriage' not once but three times, and received countless floggings from the Piety Police for trying to hold hands with girls in dark cinemas.

And the trouble didn’t stop when Osamah immigrated to Australia. As much as he tried to be a Good Muslim Boy – his father was the lead cleric in Melbourne, after all – life was short and there were beaches with girls in bikinis to skip school for, a medical degree to fake because the son of a cleric should become a doctor, and an arranged marriage to run away from because his heart belonged to someone else.

Good Muslim Boy is a hilarious and heartbreaking memoir of loss, love and family. It's about what we'll do to live up to expectations – and what we must do to live with ourselves.

The Author

Osama SamiOsamah Sami was born in war torn Iran to Iraqi parents and escaped to call Australia home. His experiences left him confused. His choice to forge a career as an artist (actor/writer/comedian) has caused his loved-ones terrible anxiety. His mother would love nothing more than for him to get real employment, at the local IGA (if it was good enough for Anh Do, it’s good enough for her son).

As a writer, he has completed two feature films: Ali’s Wedding – a Muslim romantic comedy based on this life, and Be Less Beautiful. He has also written a vague number of plays; co-created and developed eight-episode sitcom Baghdad to the Burbs; co?created the web series 2 Refugees & A Blonde and keeps an unpopular blog Halal Aussie Daily. Good Muslim Boy was highly commended in the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and is the winner of the 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Award – Best Multi Cultural book.

On stage he has performed for Belvoir St. Theatre Company, Big West, La Mamma, Melbourne Theatre Company, Theatre@Risk, and over two dozen other independent shows. Osamah also played the title role in Saddam the Musical, which got him deported from the U.S., having been mistaken for a terrorist. In fairness, he does barrack for AFL team, the Bombers. On screen, he played lead roles in films Saved (dir: Tony Ayres) opposite Claudia Karvan and in Dee McLachlan’s award winning 10 Terrorists!. Contrary to popular belief, he has played a terrorist only twice.

Osamah is listed as a ‘notable Australian Muslim’ by the Commonwealth of Australia. He is currently investigating how this could have occurred. He is also working on being a better father to his two beautiful daughters.

In conversation with...

Michael Mohammed AhmadMichael Mohammed Ahmad is an Arab-Australian writer, editor and community arts worker in Western Sydney. He is the founder and director of Sweatshop and his work in community cultural development earned him the 2012 Australia Council Kirk Robson Award. Mohammed’s essays and short stories have appeared in the Sydney Review of Books, SBS Online, The Guardian, The Australian, Heat, Seizure, The Lifted Brow and Coming of Age: Australian Muslim Stories (Allen & Unwin 2014). His debut novel, The Tribe (Giramondo 2014), received the 2015 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists of the Year Award and was translated into Mandarin (FTLRP 2016). Mohammed also adapted The Tribe for the stage with Urban Theatre Projects in 2015, which received the 2016 FBi Smac Award for Best On-Stage Production. Mohammed received his Doctorate of Creative Arts at Western Sydney University in 2017. His forthcoming novel is The Lebs (Hachette, March 2018).

Finding us
Io Myers Studio is located at the entrance to Gate 2 High St, Kensington. Look for the Creative Practice Lab neon sign in our foyer windows.

There is limited parking in the Gate 2 area around Io Myers Studio but free parking is available from 6:30pm in the car park next to NIDA accessed through Day Ave.

More information on getting to UNSW.
Download a campus map.  (PDF)


Director of UNSWriting
Associate Professor, Anne Brewster
Contact // a.brewster@unsw.edu.au

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Produced by UNSW Creative Practice Lab

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