May 17, 2024
11:30 am - 1:00 pm


Middle East Institute
1763 N St. NW
Washington, 20036 (Map)

The Middle East Institute (MEI) and comedy host Rola Z proudly present Washington, DC’s first annual ‘Traumedy’ Festival, where laughter meets healing in the most unexpected and profound ways. The two-day festival will feature evening comedy shows featuring a diverse group of comedians, including some of Arab origin, opening up about their struggles and sharing stories of heartache, loss, and adversity with raw honesty and gut-wrenching humor. 

Kicking off the festival, please join us for a panel exploring the role of comedy and laughter in society in providing healing and catharsis, building community, and facilitating difficult conversations.

11:30am - 11:45am light lunch
11:45am - 1:00pm Panel Conversation and Q&A 


  • Caty Borum, award-winning media producer, director of the Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI) at American University and author of The Revolution Will Be Hilarious: Comedy for Social Change and Civic Power (NYU Press, 2023)

  • Rola Z, Lebanese-born comedian, storyteller and producer, dubbed ‘Traumedian’ by the Washingtonian (May 2023)

  • Joe Marshall, actor, comedian, educator and founder of “The Comedy Lab,” a safe space where comedic artists can practice and explore with their art

  • Tamara B. Sharifov, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with 12-years’ experience in clinical psychology, academia, humanitarian work, conflict resolution and peacebuilding 

The conversation and Q&A will be moderated by award-winning correspondent, host and journalist Rhana Natour.