8 Hilarious Arab-American Comedy Actors, And The Best Movies And TV Shows To Watch Them In

Posted 04/19/2024 from Cinema Blend

With Ramy Youssef blowing up in both the worlds of TV and movies, and long careers like Tony Shalhoub’s and Salma Hayek’s being considered iconic, Arab representation in the world of comedy has been getting better and better. So, with that in mind, it’s time to give out flowers to some of these amazing comedic actors by highlighting their best films and shows.

Ramy Youssef smiling in Ramy.

(Image credit: Jon Pack/Hulu)

Ramy Youssef

Ramy Youssef is a prolific stand-up comedian and actor who was born in New York City, and grew up in New Jersey. The Egyptian-American is probably best known as the creator, writer, producer and star of one of A24’s best shows, Ramy. The series follows Youssef as the titular character, while he grapples with his faith while living between the worlds of his Muslim community and his group of millennial friends who think “life has no consequences,” as Hulu’s synopsis of the show states. 

After two seasons of Ramy, Youssef’s career really took off. Along with directing an episode of The Bear during Season 2,  he also executive produced the Netflix series Mo and voiced a character in Disney’s Wish

Notably, he was also part of the ensemble for the critically acclaimed Poor Things. The film from Yorgos Lanthimos, where Youssef plays the man Emma Stone’s Bella Baxter is betrothed to, ended up winning four Oscars and people fell in love with it.

Since that film, the comedian has released a new stand-up special – Ramy Youssef: More Feelings – and he joined the ranks of Saturday Night Live’s Season 49 hosts

Ramy Youssef truly is thriving. 

Stream Ramy on Hulu.
Buy Ramy on Amazon. 
Buy or rent Poor Things on Amazon.
Stream Poor Things on Hulu. 

Tony Shalhoub smiling and looking to his left in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

(Image credit: Philippe Antonello/Prime Video)

Tony Shalhoub

Tony Shalhoub’s parents emigrated from Lebanon to the United States, and he grew up in Wisconsin before becoming an actor. These days we know him best as the beloved Adrian Monk – whom he played on Monk from 2002 to its finale in 2009, and  returned to play again in Peacock's 2023 movie, Mr. Monk’s Last Case

Over the course of his career, Shalhoub has received 12 Emmy nominations and won four times, three of those wins were for Monk and the other came from the acclaimed comedy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

In the Amazon Prime comedy that tells the perfect story of a woman finding her independence, Shalhoub plays our protagonist Midge’s father, Abe. He is full of hilarious one-liners and sass, and it’s just further proof that Tony Shalhoub is a living comedy legend.  

Buy Monk on Amazon.
Stream Monk and Mr. Monk’s Last Case on Peacock.
Stream The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon. 

Alia Shawkat in the revival of Arrested Development.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Alia Shawkat

Iraqi-American actress Alia Shawkat burst onto our screens when Arrested Development premiered in 2003. Starring alongside the iconic Arrested Development cast that included Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Tony Hale and more, she played George-Michael’s cousin and crush, Maeby Fünke in both the OG series and its revival on Netflix. 

Showing off her comedy chops again, Shawkat starred in HBO’s Search Party from 2016 to 2022 playing Dory Sief, a woman who (in Season 1) sets out to find her missing college friend. Following Season 1, a new mystery unfolds with each installment, and overall, it’s a dark, creative and off-beat comedy.

Adding to her already impressive filmography, Alia Shawkat has also voiced characters in animated series like Summer Camp Island and Big Mouth, and she’s starred in films like The To Do List and Whip It

Stream Arrested Development on Netflix.
Buy Arrested Development on Amazon. 
Stream Search Party on Max. 
Buy Search Party on Amazon. 

Mo Amer looking forward in Mo.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Mo Amer

Mo Amer is a well-known Palestinian-American stand-up comedian, who has started taking on more scripted opportunities. Along with starring in 27 episodes of Ramy alongside Ramy Youssef, he also created, produced and led his own Netflix series, Mo

During an interview with CinemaBlend, Amer explained that Mo allowed him to tell his Palestinian refugee story in a way that stand-up couldn’t, as it draws from his own life growing up in Houston, Texas. 

Along with Mo and Ramy, Amer also has a stand-up special called The Vagabond, and he starred in the films Black Adam and Sweet Dreams. Overall, this comedian is just getting started!

Stream Mo on Netflix.
Stream Ramy on Hulu. 
Buy Ramy on Amazon. 

Salma Hayek driving a car with Ryan Reynolds looking scared in the backseat.

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Salma Hayek 

Mexican-Lebanese actress Salma Hayek has received lots of love for her dramatic performances in movies like Frida and Desperado. However, she’s also a comedy queen.

In 2010, she starred alongside Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade in Grown Ups, playing the Sandman’s wife, Roxanne Chase-Feder. Along with performing alongside these comedy legends in this film and its sequel, she also brought the comedy in Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, which she led with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson.

Overall, Hayek has proved time and time again that she can do any project, and it’s always such a treat when we get to see her comedy skills in action. 

Stream Grown Ups on Amazon.
Buy or rent Grown Ups on Amazon.
Buy or rent Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard on Amazon.

Nasim Pedrad as Chad in Chad.

(Image credit: TBS)

Nasim Pedrad

Nasim Pedrad, an Iranian-American actress, made a name for herself during her tenure as part of some of Saturday Night Live’s best casts. From 2009 to 2014, she starred in five seasons of the legendary sketch comedy show and it showed off her range as a brilliant comedian. 

After SNL, Pedrad went on to guest star in shows like New Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Big Mouth

Most notable, though, is her role as the titular 14-year-old boy in the comedy she co-created, Chad. She’s made two seasons of the show so far, and she wears multiple hats in the production, serving as the co-creator, producer and writer as well as star. 

Stream Saturday Night Live on Peacock.
Buy Nasim Pedrad’s seasons of SNL on Amazon. 
Stream Chad on The Roku Channel
Buy Chad on YouTube.

Kathy Najimy points with an evil grin in Hocus Pocus.

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

Kathy Najimy

The Sanderson sisters will always be iconic, and so will Kathy Najimy. The Lebanese-American actress played Mary Sanderson alongside Bette Midler’s Winifred and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Sarah in Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2. To this day, it’s one of her most beloved roles and one of the best fun Halloween movies

Keeping the iconic roles going, Najimy also played Mary Parick alongside Whoopi Goldberg in the 1992 comedy, Sister Act, and its sequel, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

This comedic actress really left her mark on the ‘90s, and to this day her work is beloved as more and more people discover these legendary films. 

Stream Hocus Pocus on Disney+.
Buy or rent Hocus Pocus on Amazon.
Stream Sister Act on Disney+
Buy or rent Sister Act on Amazon Prime. 

Rami Malek wearing a red sweater looking forward on SNL.

(Image credit: NBC)

Rami Malek

Now, I realize we know Rami Malek for movies and shows like Bohemian Rapsody and Mr. Robot. He tends to take on the more dramatic parts. However, have you ever seen the Egyptian-American actor’s episode of Saturday Night Live? It’s hilarious!

Season 47, Episode 3 of SNL was led by the Oscar winner, and it gave us wonderful sketches like “Rami Wants a Treat,” “Angelo” and “Bug Assembly.” 

On top of that, Malek’s first big movie was Night at the Museum, where he played Ahkmenrah, and he was incredibly charming and funny. 

Basically, what I’m saying is Malek is an actor with major range, and he should do more comedy!

Stream Rami Maleck’s episode of Saturday Night Live on Peacock.
Buy Rami Maleck’s episode of SNL on Amazon.
Stream Night at the Museum on Disney+.
Buy or rent Night at the Museum on Amazon.

Over the years we’ve been seeing more and more movies and TV shows with great Arab-American representation, and these actors are a big reason why. Along with all these projects, they have all had wonderful careers that are still thriving, and we can’t wait to see what they do next!

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