FESTIVAL CO-FOUNDER & CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER (2003-2012); DIRECTOR: AN ARAB OF CONVENIENCE (2009); WRITER/DIRECTOR: A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR (2009), ARAB PRESIDENT (2008), AND NOW ANOTHER WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS... AND A FEW GOOD ARABS (SHORT PROMO) (2006), AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS... (2005); WRITER: LOVE LETTER (2008); ACTOR: AN ARAB OF CONVENIENCE (2009); COMEDIAN (2003-2012)
Born in the Great State of New Jersey, Dean's comedy comes in large part from his unique background of being the son of a Palestinian father and a Sicilian mother. Dean, an award winning comedian who was at one time a practicing attorney, is currently touring with his show "Dean Obeidallah for Vice President." He writes a column for CNN.com's Opinion page and appears on CNN weekly.
He also is the co-director/co-producer of the upcoming documentary entitled, “The Muslims Are Coming!” about a free comedy tour of American-Muslim comedians across the Deep South and West. The documentary also features interviews with celebrities such as The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and comedians Lewis Black and David Cross. (www.themuslimsarecoming.com)
Dean has appeared on numerous international and national television and radio programs including Comedy Central's "Axis of Evil" special, ABC's "The View," MSNBC, "The Joy Behar Show," The PBS special "Stand up: Muslim Comics Come of Age," CNN's "American Morning" and "The Situation Room," MSNBC, PBS' "Newshour with Jim Lehrer," HD's "Dan Rather Reports," NPR, Fox News Radio, ABC's "20/20," Al Jazeera's "Min Washington," MBC's "Good Morning Ya Arab," "Democracy Now with Amy Goodman," and CNN International's "Inside the Middle East." In addition, he has been featured in various publications including Time magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and he writes frequently for CNN.com.
Dean is proud to have received the first annual "Bill Hicks Spirit Award" for "thought provoking comedy" (named after the late comedian Bill Hicks) from the NY Underground Comedy Festival and the Hicks' Family.
In addition to being co-executive producer of the NY Arab-American Comedy festival, Dean also serves as the Executive Director of The Amman Stand up Comedy Festival.
He also co-created the comedy show "Stand up for Peace" along with Jewish comic Scott Blakeman which they perform at colleges across the country in support of peace in the Middle East and fostering understanding between Arab and Jewish-Americans. (www.standupforpeace.com) He is also the co-creator of the current national comedy tour "Arabs Gone Wild" with Maysoon Zayid and Aron Kader.
In addition to performing comedy throughout the US, Dean has performed in the Middle East in Alexandria, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Haifa, Doha, Dubai, Muscat, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sharm El-Sheikh and Ramallah.
Festival Co-Founder & Executive Producer (2003-2012); Comedian (2003-2012); Writer (2005); Actor (2010-2012)
Maysoon Zayid is an actress, professional standup comedian, and writer. She received a BFA in acting from Arizona State University. She is the co-founder and co-executive producer of the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival. She was a full-time On Air Contributor to Countdown with Keith Olbermann and is currently a frequent contributor on Huffington Post Live.
Maysoon has appeared on Comedy Central's The Watch List, PBS's America at a Crossroads: Muslim Comics Stand Up, CNN, HBO, As The World Turns, Law & Order, MTV, 20/20, BBC's The Doha Debates, and had a feature role in Adam Sandler's You Don't Mess With the Zohan. As a professional comedian, Maysoon has performed in top New York clubs, and has toured extensively at home and abroad. She is a headliner on the Arabs Gone Wild Comedy Tour and The Muslims Are Coming Tour.
Maysoon's one-woman show, LAW, was produced and directed by the legendary Kathy Najimy, and debuted at LA's Comedy Central Space. Her screenplay, If I Cancan You Cancan, was chosen for the Sundance Middle Eastern Screenwriters Lab. Maysoon was a delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and is a graduate of the Hala Maksoud Leadership Training Program. She also runs Maysoon's Kids, a scholarship and wellness program for Palestinian disabled and wounded refugee children and orphans.
Alexandra Ben Othman
Company Manager (2011-2012)
Alexandra Ben Othman began attending the festival as a means of understanding her Tunisian husband’s culture. Four years later she became the festival's company manager and is proud to be working with such stunning talent. Outside the festival, Alex works in both publishing and the non-profit world, focusing on education and dialogue. She holds a BFA in photojournalism and now takes more pictures of her two cats on Instagram than real-world events.
NYAACF Program Assistant, Lynn Coyle, is a Special Needs School Counselor, who loves her precious K-5 students. (She wishes more adults learned “Social Skills," too!) Lynn is enamored with fashion, as a Stella&Dot Jewelry Stylist. Lynn believes in the powers of love and laughter. She is inspired by Maysoon Zayid and other courageous people who speak out against racism, sexism, classism, and ableism. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Ghandi
Murad M. Awawdeh
Murad M. Awawdeh is a Palestinian-American, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. An award-winning organizer, artist, and editor, he has worked on numerous social and environmental justice campaigns/projects throughout New York City. Murad works to build bridges in communities to develop local leadership. Murad has worked on four New York Arab-American Comedy Festivals, wearing multiple hats.