In comedy, timing is almost everything, and Houston comedian Mo Amer seems to have spent the last two decades or so working ahead of his time: his act hinges heavily on immigration issues, and now, just as he’s about to tape his first Netflix special, we’re having a national conversation about what’s happening at the border.
In 1990, when Amer was just nine years old, his family fled Kuwait and settled in Houston. After Amer saw Bill Cosby play the Houston Rodeo, comedy gave his life direction and, before long, a ticket to see the world—he was the first Arab-American refugee comic to perform for U.S. and coalition troops overseas and has entertained military personnel in more than twenty countries. Across the last five years, he’s honed his skills touring with Dave Chappelle. His first stand-up special for Netflix will be recorded at Austin’s Paramount Theatre on June 28.
On Tuesday, Amer spoke to Texas Monthly from New York City, where he was fine-tuning material for the special. It remains to be seen if new material about our current immigration situation on the border makes the cut, but it’s at the heart of a conversation that also covers Houston’s rich stand-up tradition, flying without a passport, and Amer’s scariest moment onstage.