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Maz Jobrani talks ‘Superior Donuts’ and more

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Actor and comedian Maz Jobrani describes his experience on the new CBS situation comedy “Superior Donuts” (airing Mondays at 9 p.m.) as “living the dream.”

Best known for his Showtime comedy specials “I’m not a Terrorist but I’ve Played One on TV” and “Brown and Friendly,” the Iranian-American says he looks forward to laughing at and with co-stars such as Judd Hirsch, Katey Sagal and David Koechner each day on the set. The series premiered in February and has just been renewed for a second season.

On “Superior Donuts,” Jobrani’s character is a wealthy Iraqi-American businessman who is determined to purchase the almost 50-year old donut shop from owner Arthur (played by Hirsch) who is struggling to change with the times in order to keep his store afloat. 

“I describe ‘Superior Donuts’ as ‘Cheers’ in a donut shop,” Jobrani aid during an interview. “When you’re part of a new show, you’re always wondering if your days are limited. When CBS told us that we’ve been renewed, we just breathed a sigh of relief.”

Even before Jobrani read for the role of Fawz, he was part of the pilot script.

“That was amazing. The writers knew me from my stand-up and they had written the role of an Iraqi-American immigrant who was trying to buy this donut shop and all of the buildings in his neighborhood. In the script, the character had my name and I went in and said ‘Guys, I’m Maz and I can do this with my eyes closed.’ I was the first person to be cast.”

Jobrani says the writers changed the character’s name to Fawz and wanted to keep him an Iraqi-American.

“They did that because they wanted him from a war-torn country so he can make references to how good he has it now in America compared to what he had back there,” he explained.

Although Jobrani says he’s a fan of the solid comedy that comes from the show’s writers, he has an idea for his character if they decide to give him a crack at writing a script. 

“I’d love to find out more about Fawz’s family. I’d love to meet his wife. She’s a strong, powerful woman who is very smart and not the shy, demure woman you would expect her to be. I think it would be great to reveal that this aggressive business man does not wear the pants in his home.” 

Playing a Middle-Eastern character on TV, Jobrani says he cherishes his role because it gives him a chance to show viewers something different than they expect.

“I think it’s important in this day and age to have a character from that part of the world who is fun and funny,” Jobrani told me.

Shortly after this interview, Jobrani took the stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC to shoot a new special for Netflix scheduled for later this year. 

“Both of my specials that you can see now on Netflix were originally comedy specials for Showtime. The one I’m taping today will be my first Netflix original. They’re behind it 100 percent and it’s theirs. The fact that I get to do it at the Kennedy Center is even more exciting because I have a lot to say as an Iranian-American in this era and the Kennedy Center is maybe the best place to do that.”

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