Aamer Rahman and the ‘Reverse Racism’ Joke Heard ‘Round the World

The comedian Aamer Rahman appears this week in Oakland — although “comedian” doesn’t really do Rahman justice. In university classrooms and online chatrooms around the world, he’s the sharp funnyman who just happened to shut down every “reverse racism” argument with one expertly arranged joke.

Born in Saudi Arabia to Bangladeshi parents, and now living in Australia, Rahman has developed a style of comedy both smart and side-splitting. His act reflects his experience growing up in Australia with brown skin, and his jokes poke fun at everything from international politics and the “War on Terror” to less-serious topics like TV and Batman. But it’s a bit he developed as a last-ditch effort right before hanging up the mic foreverthat’s made him a viral sensation.

“Reverse Racism” is one of those jokes so perfectly timed, so expertly executed, that it’s been viewed almost two million times on YouTube and even studied as part of college courses.

“My thing is not to point out things that people haven’t noticed,”Rahman explained to an Abu Dhabi newspaper in January. “My audience has already noticed it. My show is basically about being together and being honest about it.”

Formerly part of the stand-up duo “Fear of a Brown Planet” with Nazeem Hussain, Rahman has roots in social justice work; he first met Hussain at an Islamic awards event, as they both have law degrees. Rahman now performs his solo show The Truth Hurts across the U.S., from Brooklyn to the Bay Area, where his local stops include Oakland and Palo Alto.

Not limited to the 48 states, Rahman has performed at comedy festivals around the world, crafting jokes at both the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. To top it off, last year Rahman was named one of the Guardian‘s top 10 live comedy shows of the year.

Inspired by the likes of Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, and for audiences who know and love the work of Hari Kondabolu and Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, Rahman delivers a one-two punch of laughter and thought with the type of deceptively simple jokes that audiences inevitably attempt to re-tell to friends.

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