Bringing his “Love Isn’t the Answer” tour to Tremont Street, this visit marks the third time the Lebanese-American stand-up has taken the Wilbur stage, and while he’s seen the crowds grow in numbers more after each time, what he’s more excited about is seeing new faces filling the seats.
“It’s something I’m happy to see when the evolution of my shows in Boston have gone from packed to sold out,” Nemr tells Vanyaland. “But at the same time, it’s more than that, because there are new faces and new people coming in. It’s truly Boston. I mean, when you’re looking for a sophisticated crowd that you can really work out in front of, what better place for a comic, who mainly works deeply rooted in thought, to find that than a city geared toward education like Boston?”
First and foremost, Nemr is out to make people laugh with his material. While still his main objective following the success of his smash-hit one-hour Showtime special No Bombing in Beirut, he’s also made it part of his mission to export not only jokes and experiences stemming from his upbringing in a Lebanese household, but to also export the Lebanese culture — something he feels hasn’t been done effectively, given the general relationship between Arabs and Americans.
Last spring, Nemr spoke at Harvard on the topic of Arabs being “America’s Imaginary Enemy” while he was in town for a show, and after a year of heightened political tensions and less than ideal foreign relations between America and other parts of the world, he’s set off with a new objective.
“I’m privileged enough that I’m able to carry the message of our culture, but that isn’t my only objective. For me, I take a look at ‘Make America Great Again,’ and that’s my real objective. I want to make America great again in terms of its thinking, and not in terms of what that has come to represent in the supremacist sort of tonality of it. The relationship [between Americans and Arabs] really hasn’t gotten any better, but that only energizes me, instead of the opposite.”
For comedy fans who are possibly worried of yet another comedian centering his set around politics in these already tumultuous times, don’t be alarmed, because while it is an objective of his to help change the narrative of the times, Nemr doesn’t consider himself to be a political comic — and he’s proud of that. Instead, he sees his comedy shows as sort of a social experiment, where he’s bringing people from the left and the right together to laugh for a night, to prove that “you are not who you support, but you are what you do,” while reinforcing the idea that “if we can come together, we can actually do much better.” He lives it.
“It’s funny that in this current climate, that the idea of coming together is looked at as a political statement, because it’s not political at all. It’s adaptability, and evolution,” Nemr notes. “When people come into my shows, they expect me to be political because I’m Lebanese, but then they come in and sit down, and realize that it’s something completely different, and I’m very proud of that.”