Best known as the Senior Muslim/Asian/Middle Eastern/Foreign-looking/Brown Correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and author of the book, “No Land’s Man,” Mandvi has just wrapped up a successful Indiegogo campaign to finish post-production on the new web series, a sitcom starring a Muslim-American family.
“It began with Katie Couric saying that what Muslims need in America to fight bigotry might be its very own ‘Cosby Show,’” Mandvi told NBC News. “We took that idea at ‘The Daily Show’ and created a sitcom parody that we aired a portion of on ‘The Daily Show.’"
That parody first aired in 2011, and was originally called “The Qu'Osby Show." Starring Mandvi and Sakina Jaffrey ("House of Cards"), it crammed all the elements of American comedy into one Muslim package -- nosy neighbors, ugly sweaters, lots of pork, and country music.
Later, Mandvi was approached by community organizations to create something they could use to combat racism and bigotry towards Muslim Americans. So he revamped the original parody as a web series, renamed it “Halal in the Family" after the controversy around Bill Cosby emerged, and took the project to Indiegogo to build a broad base of community support across the country.
“We wanted to create the web series to use satire and comedy as a way to shed light on some important issues, said Mandvi, “And make people laugh.”
According to the 2014 “American Attitudes towards Arabs and Muslims” survey by the Arab American Institute, only 27 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Muslims. However, among those Americans who actually know an Arab or a Muslim, the percentage of those who view them favorably increases significantly.
“Halal in the Family” takes on topics that affect Muslim Americans such as surveillance, racial profiling, online bullying, media bias, and mosque protests. It also seeks to challenge harmful stereotypes of Muslims and to expose a more Americans to the real, everyday experiences of their Muslim neighbors.
“By using satire,” wrote Mandvi in his Indiegogo appeal, “We will encourage people to reconsider their assumptions about Muslims while providing a balm to those experiencing anti-Muslim bias. I also hope those Uncles and Aunties out there will crack a smile!”
Mandvi said that the project has received a lot of support from the Muslim, Asian, and civil rights organizations advising the project, as well as from the people who contributed through Indiegogo.