Negin was born and raised by Iranian parents in the desert of Southern California. Her unwavering commitment to social change led her to Cornell University Government program as an undergraduate and then to Columbia’s School of International & Public Affairs where she earned a Masters in Public Policy. Before surrendering to the world of comedy, she worked as a policy advisor for the City of New York. Negin is the director/producer of the current feature film release, Nerdcore Rising, a comedy about Nerdcore hip hop. The film premiered at the prestigious South by Southwest Film Festival, continuing on in the festival circuit to winning Audience Favorite awards, the jury prize for Best Documentary Film, and a Best Director award. The film had a limited theatrical release then went on to DVD, selling enough copies in its first month to be on Amazon’s top ten list.
Farsad also recently developed and wrote the MTV series, “Detox” and directed and produced the Comedy Central series, “The Watch List.” She wrote for the first season of the upcoming PBS cartoon series, “1001 Nights.” You can also see her as on-air host and writer for IFC News and for AOL. She originally earned her film chops as a producer and story editor on the film A Cricket in the Court of Akbar where she produced an 8-week shoot on location in Rajasthan, India. Her short film Iran-ing on Empty, which she wrote, directed and appeared in, has been a selection of numerous comedy festivals while her other short film Hot Bread Kitchen won first place in the Lifetime Television Women in Filmmaking Awards. She is thrilled to join Obeidallah for yet another project – the last time they worked together was for a short film commissioned by Queen Rania of Jordan for her video project to dispel Middle-Eastern stereotypes around the world. That film completed a series of shorts that garnered the Youtube Visionary Award for Queen Rania. As a standup comedian she has opened for the likes of (Senator) Al Franken in venues ranging from the Laugh Factory in New York, the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, and Town Hall on Broadway. Her work has been called “’Smart, funny and fascinating” by the Wall Street Journal, “hilarious & delightful” by Salon, and a “a shining exception” by the Dallas Morning News.
Dean’s comedy comes in large part from his unique background of being the son of a Palestinian, Muslim father and a Sicilian, Catholic mother. Dean, an award-winning comedian who was at one time a practicing attorney, has appeared on “The Axis of Evil” Comedy TV special, which aired in the US on Comedy Central and in the Middle East on Showtime Arabia. He is the co-creator of Comedy Central.com’s critically acclaimed Internet series “The Watch List” featuring a cast of all Middle Eastern-American comedians performing stand up and sketch comedy. Dean has appeared twice on ABC’s “The View,” on the nationally syndicated TV series “Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen” and was one of five comedians profiled in the recent one hour TV Special entitled: “Stand Up: Muslim-American Comics Come of Age” which aired in the US on PBS and internationally on BBC World and Al Jazeera.
Dean is the co-creator/co-producer of the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival also serves as the Executive Director of The Amman Stand up Comedy Festival – the only annual stand up comedy festival in Middle East history.
Dean has appeared on numerous international and national television and radio programs including CNN’s “What The Week,” “American Morning” and “The Situation Room,” CNN Headline News’ “The Joy Behar Show,” PBS’ “Newshour with Jim Lehrer,” ABC’s “Nightline,” HD’s “Dan Rather Reports,” Fox News’ “Geraldo at Large,” Al Jazeera’s “Min Washington,” MBC’s morning show, “Democracy Now with Amy Goodman,” NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and CNN International’s “Inside the Middle East.” In addition, he has been featured in various publications including Time magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times and he frequently writes for The Huffington Post.
He also co-created the comedy show “Stand up for Peace” along with Jewish comic Scott Blakeman as a way of fostering understanding between Arab, Muslim and Jewish-Americans.
Andrew Mendelson has been working in the entertainment industry in New York City for over 16 years. His broadcast credits for editing include programs for PBS, Comedy Central, Bravo, E! Entertainment Television, The Style Network, Logo, Fuse, TMC, Court TV, Lifetime, and BET Networks. In 2012, Andrew won his third Emmy Award for his editing work on the The Electric Company — a revival of the classic children’s TV series on PBS. The show also garnered three Emmys for Best Children’s Show in as many years.
In addition to his work in television, Andrew has served as director, producer and editor for several documentary feature films. His directorial debut, A Cricket in the Court of Akbar, chronicles his journey to India to study Indian classical music on the sitar, a life-long passion, and his attempt to compete as the first ever Westerner in the Darshak Institute Music Competition in Jaipur. Andrew also produced and edited an independent documentary feature entitled Nerdcore Rising (New Video, 2009). The film examines the rise of Nerd rap and follows the first national tour of the movement’s founder, MC Frontalot. Andrew also recently edited My Pantanal, a short film which aims to educate youth and local farmers about Jaguar conservation and sustainable farming in the Pantanal region of Brazil.
A devout student of Indian classical music, Andrew has been playing the sitar for a bit over 18 years. In 2005, Andrew won the grand championship gold medal at the Darshak Institute Music Competition in Jaipur, India — the largest music competition of its kind in the state of Rajasthan. Since then, he has played at concert halls and university stages throughout the U.S. and continues to perform at many New York City venues. He can also be heard in Mike Myers’ film, The Love Guru, for which he composed the opening credits score. He is a disciple of renowned sitarist Pandit Krishna Mohan Bhatt.
In 2009, Andrew was awarded a TED Fellowship for his work in music and film, and was invited to attend the TED India conference in Mysore, India. Andrew grew up in Texas and graduated from Southwestern University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater.