Laughter is the basis of a new Kickstarter campaign looking to bring Western attention to Middle Eastern headlines.
Based on the structure of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” a satirical newscast all about the Middle East called “The Mideast Show” was dreamed up by Brooklyn resident Kayvon Afshari earlier this year.
“I thought there was a need to create a space, create a platform where people with a sense of humor could laugh together,” Afshari said.
At first Afshari was going to shoot the show from his apartment using an iPhone, but after receiving strong, positive feedback on the idea he began reaching out to friends and colleagues in Brooklyn and Queens to help create the first episode.
The pilot episode, partially written by Jackson Heights resident Serhan Ayhan, features Afshari as the host of the show reviewing headlines out of the Middle East, a special guest, on-scene reporting and much more.
However, the big challenge for the show is funding. The pilot episode cost about $15,000 to create.
With the hopes of producing five more episodes for the first season, Afshari has turned to Kickstarter to raise a goal of $85,000. The money would go into renting a studio, camera and equipment, hire a professional crew involving camera operators, director, audio engineer and graphic designers, and post-production work.
The funds would also help purchase props for the show and pay members of the creative team, most of whom are currently volunteering their time.
The mission of “The Mideast Show” is to create a newscast for people who have a sense of humor about the Middle East and want to laugh together, regardless of nationality, religion or ethnicity, according to the show’s Kickstarter website.
“There is a lack of information on the Middle East that Americans have and among some people there is not even an interest,” said Afshari. “We are embedded in this region. However, [people] don’t know about it.”
The team behind the show is mixed with various Middle Eastern roots, including Afshari who is Persian-American.
Ayhan, who is half Turkish and half Kurdish and one of the writers for the show, came up with the segment on the pilot episode where reporter Rex Huckstable takes a trip to the Little Egypt community in Astoria and speaks to residents about recent elections in Egypt.
In future episodes, Ayhan said he hopes to have the chance to continue doing segments on local Middle Eastern communities.
“The goal is to entertain but also educate. We’re not trying to make fun of people from the Middle East,” Ayhan said. “We want to be that bridge to educate people.”