A Rabbi, a Muslim and a Baptist preacher walk into a room. (Rim shot!) Yes, it's the setup for a joke, but not like you expect. Comedian Rabbi Bob Alper, Muslim comic Azhar Usman, and myself, an ex-lawyer turned Baptist minister and standup, are taking the stage for the Laugh in Peace Tour. The shows (many of which are fund raisers for Habitat for Humanity) are being held at Churches and Synagogues across the country, including Urban Grace Church in Tacoma, Washington, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation in Maryland and Wellshire Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado.
The audiences span every imaginable face: Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists. And for two short hours, the differences are forgotten and we all laugh together.
In the show, Rabbi Bob Alper explains about the differences in language and culture:
"On my first visit to Jerusalem I was eager to try out my classical Hebrew. While riding in a cab I asked the driver to stop at the next corner. He looked at me funny, then I realized what I had said was not 'let me off here,' but 'BEHOLD! Here I descend!'"
Alternatively, Azahar Usman rifts on what it's like being Muslim in America-especially in airports.
The three of us believe that humor may be the quickest way to world peace. Laughter allows us to see our commonalties and, in turn, appreciate our diversity. When we laugh with someone, whether it is a stranger, a friend, a lover or an enemy, our worlds overlap for a tiny, but significant moment. It is then that defenses are lowered, ideas and feelings are shared and the best in each other gleams forth. Only when we can laugh past our perceived superiority and righteousness, can we truly look at our neighbor with a sense of hospitality and justice. Perhaps W.H. Auden put it best when he said, "Love your crooked neighbor with your own crooked heart."
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