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Sultans of Satire to Perform Dec. 2

Sultans of Satire Comedy Group to Perform Dec. 2

Stand-up comics who work for peace through laughter make first appearance at UC Riverside.

(November 27, 2007)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief — a group of young American stand-up comedians of Arab, Iranians, Sephardic, Armenian, Turkish and Greek heritage — will make their first appearance at UC Riverside on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the University Theatre.

The Sultans of Satire performance is presented by the Levantine Cultural Center, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that promotes Middle East peace through the literary, visual and performing arts. Two UC Riverside faculty — Reza Aslan and Laila Lalami, both assistant professors of creative writing — are members of the center’s national advisory board.

The show comes to UC Riverside with support from the Riverside Arts Council and the Riverside County Library System. The university radio station, KUCR 88.3 FM, is a media sponsor.

Tickets are $20 to $30, $15 for UCR students. They may be purchased at the University Theatre box office, 951-827-4331. Tickets also may be purchased by calling 310-657-5511 or 310-657-5522, or online at or A portion of the proceeds benefits Levantine Center's programs for peace through arts. There is a fee for parking.

Comedians Mike Batayeh, Peter Shahriari, Noel Elgrably, Elham Jazab, Ara Basil and Angelo Tsarouchas will be featured in the Dec. 2 performance, with an emerging comedian spot devoted to Shereen Faltas, an Egyptian American.

This ensemble has performed as the Sultans of Satire since November 2005 in shows throughout Southern California, and have garnered wide acclaim. The Sultans had an eight-month run at the Laugh Factory on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, and earlier this year sold out 1,200 seats at USC.

Bringing the show to Riverside has been an objective of the Levantine Cultural Center for some time, said Jordan Elgrably, the center’s artistic director.

“There is a growing Middle Eastern presence throughout the Inland Empire, with immigrants from Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and other countries of the Levant,” he said. “In fact, there are more than a million immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa in Southern California. Since the events of 9/11, it has increasingly been our mission to bring together communities whose cultures are often in conflict, as a way to build bridges between them. We also feel it is vital to reach out to Americans who hear about Arab and Muslim issues in the news, usually with a negative spin.”

Elgrably noted that UC Riverside has become a center for knowledge, insight and analysis on the Middle East and Islam. This fall UCR hired seven scholars who specialize in the Middle Eastern or Islam.

Louis Vandenberg, general manager of KUCR, said the Sultans of Satire features members of all the religions of the Middle East — Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Bahai. “What we have here is a truly fresh approach — laughing for peace,” he said.

KUCR is pleased to help present the comics at UCR, Vandenberg said.

“The mission of our ‘Issues and Dialog’ series is to stimulate critical, creative and constructive thought about the world,” he said. “One of the best ways to make people think, to bring people together, to recognize our common humanity and to see past our differences is through laughter. There's something about humor that breaks down our conscious barriers. We laugh because we recognize truth.”

Jordan Elgrably, Levantine Cultural Center 310.657.5511

Tina Yonas KUCR 88.3fm 951.827.3140

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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