NAPLES, Fla. — Ahmed Ahmed says he's no terrorist and believes humor should unite people.
The comedian's performance Saturday in North Naples, Florida, prompted a man who attended to call 911 the next day and complain about the Ahmed asking how many Middle Eastern people were attending.
The 911 call about Ahmed's standup at the at Off The Hook Comedy Club went viral, appearing in several national media outlets. Off The Hook owner Brien Spina says the story has taken on a life of its own, so he asked Ahmed if he would return for an encore show.
The comedian agreed, and he will perform again May 22 because Spina said so many have called asking to see Ahmed's standup.
“I don’t think anyone has ever called 911 because they were offended by a joke," Spina said. "It’s kind of like going to horror movie and you were so scared so you called the police so no one else would go to that show.”
In the 911 call, the man begins: “There was a comedian whose name is Ahmed Ahmed, the name is Middle Eastern. And the first thing he said when he got on stage was, ‘How many Middle Eastern people do we have here?’ And a whole bunch of people raised their hand. And he said where are you from? I’m from Iraq, I’m from Iran. I’m from Pakistan. I’m from here, I’m from there. He said, ‘That’s great. We could organize our own little terrorist organization.
“And I don’t think that was right. And that really bothered me.”
“Yeah,” the emergency dispatcher responds. “I can understand that in this environment.”
“And I yelled, ‘Yeah, and the paddywagon is going to be outside to get all of you.”
The caller then told the dispatcher, “I don’t know, is that something that should not be said?”
Listen to the 911 call:
Ahmed said the caller misquoted him.
“What I said was, 'Are there any Middle Eastern people here tonight?' " he said, repeating the joke. "A handful of people clapped. And I said, 'That’s great, there’s a handful of us here tonight. But hey, it only takes one of us,” he said, pointing out that a few people laughed while there's a pause, " 'to tell a joke. It only takes one Middle Eastern person to tell a joke, no, but seriously, lock the doors.' ”
Collier County sheriff's deputies arrived to talk to Spina and Ahmed, who said they "were super professional and very kind."
"One of the officers said to me, 'Don’t change your act, just keep doing what you’re doing,' " Ahmed said. "I’m not mad, sad or insulted. I actually want to thank the guy who called 911 because he’s given me the best press I think I'vever had.”
He's also offering the caller two free tickets to the May 22 show and will give him "a big old jolly American hug.”
Ahmed, 48, was born in Egypt but his family moved to California when he was 1 month old. He grew up there and currently calls Malaysia home.
"If the guy who made the call is reading this article, I’d like to offer you two tickets to the show and give him a big old, jolly American hug," he said.
“After the show, I was shaking everybody’s hand and thanked them and did a meet and greet," Ahmed said Wednesday.
“My point is terrorists don’t do meet and greets. We don’t say, death to America, but can we take a selfie first? I wear skinny jeans and T-shirts on stage. Terrorists don't do that."
This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: 'Lock the doors': Comedian's 'Middle Eastern' joke at Florida comedy club prompts 911 call