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Naaj Harrabi Brings Fresh, Unfiltered Humor in ‘Alien in the Basilica’

| Thursday, February 20, 2020

Cristina Interiano | The Observer

The lights of Washington Hall dimmed and a single spotlight illuminated two handmade cutouts of the Basilica and the Golden Dome that sat at the back of the stage. As Najmeddine “Naaj” Harrabi, ND Class of 2019, took his place center stage during the debut of his stand up comedy show “Alien in the Basilica” Sunday night, he was met with an eruption of cheers. 

But the show was already in motion even before Harrabi came on stage. It began with a quick presentation about Education Bridge, a school started by Notre Dame graduate Majak Anyieth in South Sudan, and the recipients of the night’s proceeds. Shortly after, members of the group Dance Africa danced on stage, clapping their hands and pounding their feet to the rhythm of the music. And then it was special guest Sean MacLeod’s turn to perform. The audience laughed along to his edgy, dark humor as he sauntered around the stage, and the lights went dark once again. 

“I think I have a strong soul,” Harrabi stated loudly and clearly as he began his act. “That’s why I’m doing this show.” 

His comedy highlighted a range of topics; he acted like a racist, sexist Arabian prince in America, compared South Bend winters to a “Game of Thrones” episode, discussed Notre Dame’s seemingly racist squirrels and even told a story about his untimely circumcision that could probably be labeled “Too Much Information.” 

After telling a particularly hilarious story about being used as a bathroom by a squirrel, Harrabi’s voice and tone changed. “See, the thing that racist squirrels don’t understand is that my bones and my soul are strong. Because I drink fresh, free goat milk.” The crowd laughed. He continued, “Racist squirrels… will try to do a lot of things to you. For example, racist squirrels do not understand how much fresh, free goat milk I drink. So, I’m not gonna get offended by racist squirrels. Because, I drank what?” The crowd replied enthusiastically: “Goat milk!” 

Harrabi was able to convert his experience and story as an African immigrant in America into an analogy: fresh, stark and unfiltered humor that both moved the audience, and left them yearning for more. 

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