• Amy Toledano

A look at Weapons Of Mass Hilarity with Jenan Younis

Amy, Editor of Within Her Words chats with Jenan Younis, creator of Weapons Of Mass Hilarity, a comedy night focused on showcasing comedians from under-represented backgrounds.

What Is Weapons Of Mass Hilarity?

It is a comedy night.

Weapons is a charity comedy night running on November 20th at the Phoenix Arts Club in Leicester Square with Shazia Mirza headlining. 

Why did you create the event?

If you pluck a comedy night at random anywhere in the country the chances are the line up will be pale, male and stale. It was important to me to be pro active in the changes needed in the comedy industry. I initially created the night to champion the emerging comedic talent with ties to the Middle East. The night has since grown to become a space where comedians from all under represented backgrounds are showcased, with the focus being on inclusiveness rather than exclusivity and I hope that will be reflected in the audiences we attract. 

Have you had events in the past, how was the response to those?

We’ve run the night on four occasions in association with LSE and SOAS and sold out each time raising money for a variety of charities such as AMAR and Syrians Across Borders. 

How can people support the event if they can’t attend?

You can help us spread the word! Share details about our night on social media, (IG @jenandoescomedy Twitter @jenan_younis) if you’d like to hear about future events you can be added to our mailing list, or you can donate to our nominated charity this year: Shlama Foundation (shlama.org). 

Why do you think it is important for events like this to be supported and created?

There is certainly a lot of talk around the need to change the landscape within the comedy industry, and while there are fabulous organisations out there (such as Funny Women, the Soho Young Theatre) they aren’t enough. The reality is the gatekeepers behind the scenes are the same individuals who have been in the game for donkeys years. Comedy performers are increasingly stepping up as a result to create their own opportunities. The beauty of comedy is the sheer variety and diversity and audiences need to know it’s all there for the taking! 

Will there be any other events like this in the future?

As long as the audiences keep returning we will keep it running. We are in talks to develop a podcast linked to the night to showcase female BAME talent within the performing arts industry. 

Why is comedy so important in today's social and political climate?

Comedy before becoming a performer was a great emotional outlet for me, and now as a stand-up I’m a firm believer that you can tackle issues that people don’t want to hear about but in a manner that will make them listen. I can present my perspective as a minority within a minority in Brexit Britain for instance, more clearly in a 10 minute stand up routine than I could ever hope to achieve in a documentary or op-ed. Shared laughter is such a powerful mechanism for connection.  

Where can we find event details?

Online here!

Weapons Of Mass Hilarity is playing at Phoenix Arts Club on the 20th November 2019.

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