I am an angry Iranian. Well, before being an Iranian, I am an angry man, just like the angry Middle Eastern men you see on television, the ones you see on the streets with clenched fists and anguished faces showing their protest.
I wasn’t always angry; I turned angry. What tormented me and turned me into an angry man goes back to when I lived in Iran. Of course, from a certain point on, my anger surpassed ordinary boundaries and I started to laugh to survive. I mean, I cannot be angry without laughing at my own anger.
Today, turning my anger into comedy and laughing at my anguish is my livelihood. My reasons for this anger keep mounting every day, and therefore, I have more reasons to laugh, too. This is how I became an angry Iranian:
– I would see people fighting and beating each other on the street. I went to a therapist and he told me that if it ever came to it, I could become violent, too. Later, I realized the Islamic Republic has no problem with violence.
– “War, War, Until Victory!” was the slogan written on city walls. I didn’t go to the therapist because he could have turned me in as an unpatriotic individual. Later, I realized peace, to the Islamic Republic, means drinking from a poisoned chalice. I decided to not to talk about it and found myself a place to rent outside the city, fearing the bombs falling on the city.
– “Ali’s Party Is the Only Party, Seyed Ali Is the Only Leader!” said a huge billboard. I went to see my therapist. He said, “Shush!” Later, I learned the Islamic Republic has no problem with citizens telling each other, “Shush!”
– Throughout the evening television news program, it felt as if only one sentence was repeated over and over again: “You are stupid! You are stupid!” I went to see my therapist and he said, “You are stupid!” Later, I learned the Islamic Republic has no problem with thinking the people are stupid.
– Kayhan newspaper, instead of providing me with reliable news, taught me how to lie and be a hypocrite. I went to the therapist. A sign on his door said he couldn’t admit patients who read Kayhan! Later, I learned the Islamic Republic has no problem with lies and filthy hypocrisy in newspapers.
– Each time I took a new script to the guy responsible for approving scripts at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance so that I could produce a play, he would smile and say, “Come back tomorrow!” I went to my therapist and he said, “Come back tomorrow!” Later, I found out the Islamic Republic has no problem with “Come back tomorrow.”
– I couldn’t pay my rent. I went to my therapist and he said this was a “public illness” and I shouldn’t worry. Later, I learned the Islamic Republic only sends a specific, favored group of people to Dubai, China, Malaysia, Russia, and Venezuela to seek treatment, and it has no problem with my illness at all.
– The police arrested my girlfriend and me for “walking together.” I went to my therapist. He prescribed marriage so I could walk down the street with her. Later, I learned the Islamic Republic has a problem with my taking a walk with my girlfriend.
– The ideals expressed in films were not my ideals. I didn’t go to my therapist. Later, I learned that the Islamic Republic has a problem with me because I don’t share those ideals. I tried to live with the imaginary enemy of my country wanting to destroy me. I had to do something every day to counter the enemy. I went to the therapist and he said to change therapists. I never did learn anything about this.
– Instead of trying to find out why the Islamic Republic has a problem with some of these but not others, I spent my days feeling sorry for myself for being a victim. I went to the therapist to deal with my victimhood. He said, “Go buy a satellite dish! If you see the other side of the world, you will know not all people are victims.”
I bought a satellite dish, but none of the programs treated my illness, and even made me angrier! I went back to the therapist. He said, “That’s all there is. I can’t do anything for you. But you can go make a TV program for your audience of one, and then sit in your room and watch it! You may even be able to tell a few other victims that they too are victims but can kick the habit!”
Angry and laughing at my anger, I left his office forever, ran to my room, and jumped into my television head first, into the satellite waves to create an angry, bitter, satirical program to heal myself and other Iranians of our victimhood.
Kambiz Hosseini is an Iranian political satirist, actor, television host, and radio host. He is the host of Poletik, a satirical news program that airs on Radio Farda, as well as weekly podcast on human rights in Iran, Five in the Afternoon. He co-created and hosted the successful and critically acclaimed TV show Parazit on Voice of America from 2009-2012, which reached 30 million viewers worldwide.