February 22, 2007
Persian Jews break with tradition to break through in Hollywood
(Page 2 - Previous Page)New Yorker Dan Ahdoot is another Iranian Jewish entertainer who defied his community's traditions. Six years ago, Ahdoot almost entered medical school, but -- to his family's chagrin -- decided to take a shot as a stand-up comic first.
"My whole family was basically against it, but I used that as a motivation to prove them wrong," said Ahdoot, who hails from the Iranian Jewish enclave of Great Neck, N.Y. "Life is too short, and you have to take risks. That's basically what I did, and thank God it's paying off."
Ahdoot's routine about life as a second-generation Iranian American landed him a spot as a finalist on the 2004 season of NBC's reality show, "Last Comic Standing," as well as awards from national comedy competitions. He's currently touring the country doing his routine at colleges and universities.
"I've seen a lot of changes in our community," said Ahdoot, 28. "After my TV appearances, I've received e-mails from other Iranian Jews saying, 'I'm a lawyer or a doctor, and I don't want to do this anymore.'"
Ahdoot said many Iranian Jewish families push their children toward higher education and conventional careers, rather than entertainment. While that's common in any ethnic group, Iranian Jewish parents are particularly concerned about financial security, because so many were forced to leave behind their life savings when they fled Iran, Ahdoot said.
"Education is almost as important as money in our community, because it's something no one can take away from you," Ahdoot said. "Most parents in the community believe that 'we came here with nothing, and we built this, so you're supposed to carry the torch and don't go down.'"
1 | 2