Discussing Identity Through Comedy, Music, and Inspirational Stories: Arab American YouTube Star, Adam Saleh, Kicks Off North America Tour
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
After months of performing in the Arab world, Arab American YouTube personality, Adam Saleh, is taking his tour to the US and Canada for the first time, starting with a Los Angeles show on April 29.
The performance includes live comedy sketches, hip-hop music, stand-up comedy, a motivational speech, and a question-and-answer session with Adam. According to the YouTuber, each segment of the show has a theme and offers lessons in respect and self-love for the audience.
“My show is welcomed for all ages; it’s family-friendly,” Adam told Arab America. “It teaches good moral lessons on respecting your parents, respecting your family, being proud of who you are, and where you’re from.”
While it has many features, Adam says the show focuses on both the humorous and serious sides to growing up as an Arab American and a Muslim. Raised in New York City just blocks from the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Adam had a difficult time identifying as an Arab and a Muslim as a child.
“In my elementary school days after 9/11, people would throw rocks at me and bully me,” Adam shared, noting the similar experiences other Arab American children faced in school after 9/11. “There were times when I was scared to even say I was Muslim… and one day in middle school, someone asked if I was Hispanic and I just went with it. I said yes.”
For almost four years, Adam pretended he was not Arab or Muslim. “I lied for years, telling people I’m not Muslim. I was living a lie, and my friends had no clue I was Muslim,” Adam recalled. “The day I was caught in a lie, I ended up having a big fight with the school’s dean and I got expelled. So I went to an Islamic school for the last six months of high school. And I learned more about being a Muslim, being proud of my identity, and how to say ‘who cares?’ to the bullies.”
After graduating from high school, Adam started making YouTube videos. Today, the vlogger attracts hundreds of thousands of weekly viewers to his videos, where he offers hilarious impersonations of his Arab parents and spooks his with an array of creative pranks from talking teddy bears to hidden killer clowns to serving toothpaste-filled Oreos. Similar to some of his most popular YouTube vlogs, Adam works with friends to act out real moments from his childhood and Arab American home to make audiences laugh and come together on the tour.
“I want to help people get through that if they’re experiencing it, too,” Adam said with who overcame similar identity struggles. Through his tour, he hopes to empower the Arab American community by positively embracing his heritage and inspiring others to do the same.
Speaking on the negative environment of YouTube, Adam said “I get negative comments every single day, I’m probably getting them right now, but I don’t focus on those people because I’ll never even meet them in real life. I choose to stay positive.”
By choosing to stay positive, Adam is pushing his career to the next level, despite experiencing continued anti-Arab bigotry and Islamophobia. In December of 2016, Adam and his friend Slim Albaher made headlines after being kicked off a Delta flight from London to New York. According to the duo, a woman sitting in front of Adam and Slim was uncomfortable because Slim was speaking Arabic on the phone. When Adam spoke up for Slim, other passengers chimed in to express their discomfort in hearing Arabic, as well.
The video of the two getting kicked off the plane went viral instantly, and initially, Delta was apologetic. However, when the media discovered Adam’s history of prank videos, the narrative changed.
“Since I do pranks, Delta tried to use that against me. It’s the same thing the media did to the United guy last week,” Adam said, referencing the violent and forced removal of Dr. David Dao from a United Airlines flight last week. After footage of the passenger being dragged from his seat went viral, the media dug up his past to find that the doctor was once arrested for unlawful prescribing and trafficking of controlled substances.
But just like in Adam’s case, Dr. Dao’s past has nothing to do with the mistreatment he faced on his flight.
“No matter what I think, people will be against me just because I’m Muslim or Arab,” Adam stated. “I can back myself up, but people will always hate me just because of who I am.”
Getting kicked off a Delta flight doesn’t define Adam Saleh, though. He continues to gain viewers and fans from around the globe, who admire him for his benevolent attitude and powerful aspirations. From his prankster YouTube videos, Adam has grown to become an entrepreneur and inspiration for others.
The Adam Saleh North America tour is taking place in major cities across the US and Canada. For more details about shows near you and purchasing tickets, visit adamsalehworldwide.com.