Mini Q+A with Atheer Yacoub

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Atheer Yacoub is a New York based comedian, writer, and podcaster. Her comedy is inspired by her Palestinian-Muslim upbringing in Alabama. Atheer has appeared on Gotham Comedy Live, and is also a writer for The Breakdown with Mehdi Barakchian and Passport control with Mehdi Barakchian. Along with Leila Barghouty, Atheer co-hosts The No Fly List Podcast which features funny conversations with other brown comedians, artists, and interesting people. Check out where you can see Atheer live and follow her!

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

I usually like to shut them down by putting them on the spot.

Describe your worst gig.

When I first started out, I did a show for a Muslim charity during Ramadan and I went up right as the food was coming out and people were starving and waiting to break their fast and no one was paying attention to me, which is totally understandable. I was the only thing standing between them and a huge buffet after an 18 hour fast and I can’t compete with carbs. My 30 min set ended up getting cut short because the sun went down and it was time to break the fast, which I was perfectly okay with, considering how it was going.

On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian?

Talk about things that matter to you and have a unique point of view. Don’t pander or cater to anyone. Do jokes that are true to who you are you will build an audience who appreciates your humor. Just make sure to present it in a way that’s relatable.

What’s your first impulse when someone says “women aren’t funny”?

My immediate thought is “that person is ignorant and has probably never seen women do comedy.”

When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?

Having good comedian friends to go to open mics with and people I can write with helped me feel like I wasn’t completely on my own. It’s also really important to surround yourself with positive people as comedians can get really jaded and negativity is contagious.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Don’t compare yourself or career to anyone else and be patient. Don’t worry about what shows or things everybody else is getting, because everyone has a unique path. Just focus on becoming the funniest version of yourself. Keep your head down and work hard and it will pay off.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

I’ve gotten comedy mansplained to so many times by open mic male comedians who think they know best. Worst advice is probably not to talk about my culture or ethnic background, which is a huge part of who I am.

Favorite response to “What’s it like to be a woman in comedy”?

Being a woman in comedy is constantly having to answer the question “what’s it like to be a woman in comedy?”

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

Yuck! It feels like an unnecessary distinction, as if the word comedian or comic defaults to males. I think the word comedian should be universal.

How has being funny helped you in your offstage life, either recently or when you were younger?

I think having a good sense of humor helps me not take life too seriously and keep things in perspective. It’s also a great way to connect with people and help break down barriers. I’d also be lying if I didn’t say it also serves as a coping and defense mechanism.

What advice do you have for how to level up from open mics + bringers to actual SPOT-spots?

Be your funniest self at open mics and treat it like a show. People who run shows will be there and see how funny you are and ask you to be on their shows. Apply to festivals, contact bookers, and have a tight 5 min tape you can send them.

Was there one person who inspired you to become a comedian?

There was really no one person, but I grew up watching old sitcoms like I Love Lucy and Mary Tyler Moore. I think seeing strong, funny women, going against the grain helped me realize that it was a possibility to become a comedian myself. As a grew older, I started watching Sarah Silverman who I think is wonderful and hysterical.


Atheer Yacoub is a New York based comedian, writer, and podcaster. Her comedy is inspired by her Palestinian-Muslim upbringing in Alabama. Atheer has appeared on Gotham Comedy Live, and is also a writer for The Breakdown with Mehdi Barakchian and Passport control with Mehdi Barakchian. Along with Leila Barghouty, Atheer co-hosts The No Fly List Podcast which features funny conversations with other brown comedians, artists, and interesting people. Check out where you can see Atheer live and follow her!