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May 17, 2024
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Middle East Institute
1763 N St. NW
Washington, District of Columbia 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.

Over the two-night festival, a diverse group of comedians, including some of Arab origin, will open up about their struggles, sharing stories of heartache, loss and adversity with raw honesty and gut-wrenching humor. Join us for a journey of self-discovery and catharsis where every punchline is a step towards healing.

The festival program includes a free panel discussion on the role of comedy in healing with leading experts on Friday, May 17 at MEI followed by two nights of comedy on Friday, May 17 (MEI) and Saturday, May 18 (BusBoys and Poets).

This project is supported in part by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Yasmin Elhady is a comedian and attorney who has toured nationally and internationally. She performed at The Kennedy Center and was featured on NBC's True Story with Ed Helms and Randall Park in 2022. She has also appeared locally on WUSA9 with Reese Waters, NPR, 'Netflix is a Joke Radio' on SiriusXM, and The Washington Post. She was named a 2022 "Yes, And...Laughter Lab" finalist for comedy and social justice.

Joe Marshall is a standup comedian, who has performed at the DC Improv, Hotbed, and the DC Comedy Loft. He currently produces a monthly comedy show called, Comedy Lab, which has been featured in District Fray Magazine, WUSA 9, and The Washington Post. He also partners with Victory Christian Ministries Int’l in NE, DC to produce and host a monthly men’s session where men can heal emotionally through their progressive conversations, unpacking the traumas of life.

Sami Tamimi is an Iraqi standup comedian based in Richmond. He moved to the United States 7 years ago and uses his experience living with a Southern host family as fuel for his shows. Sami has performed all over the DMV area including Union Stage and Richmond FunnyBone. Additionally, he performed many times at the Funny Arabs Show in DC.

Rola Z is a producer, Emcee and host/comedian in DC. She is the creator of TRAUMEDY, DC’s only Dark Comedy show, FUNNY ARABS COMEDY SHOW and has been dubbed ‘Traumedian’ by the Washingtonian, May 2023. Her comedian line-up includes people who have been through different life hardships and turned that into something funny. Rola Z has been featured in District Fray, Washingtonian, The National, Dubai TV, WUSA9, Washington City Paper and more.


May 18 Show (Anacostia)


Saturday, May 18th at 7:00pm
Busboys & Poets
2004 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE

Join us for the second night of the Traumedy festival at Busboys and Poets in Anacostia where Lebanese-born Rola Z returns to the stage with fellow comedians. As they confront their pain and struggles through laughter and comedy, their performances and humor help break down barriers, build connections and dissolve pain.

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Presented With

Rola Niche Shows

With the Support of

DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities