NEW YORK (JTA) — Eman El-Husseini and Jess Salomon have a few people to thank for their marriage — including a drunk Italian guy at a comedy club and Saddam Hussein.
Salomon is a Jew from Canada. El-Husseini is the daughter of a Palestinian family that fled her birth country of Kuwait in 1991, when she was a child, after Hussein’s Iraqi army invaded the country.
“Sometimes I like to give Saddam Hussein a shout-out for invading Kuwait because if not for that, this one’s family might not have ended up in Montreal, and we might not have ever met.” Salomon says.
“So Saddam Hussein is a big part of our relationship,” El-Husseini interjects.
“I mentioned him at the wedding in my speech,” Salomon responds, “and nobody liked it.”
Now the two comics are in calmer environs: sitting at a tiny table in a trendy coffee and matcha place in Brooklyn, where they have lived since 2015. Like legions of comedians, they have come to New York City to make it big.
There is one thing, however, that sets them apart: Not many two-person comedy acts can credibly say they are a lesbian Palestinian-Jewish married couple.
“It’s the only conflict you can bring up where everyone knows the reference,” Salomon said. “Even if you’re in the middle of nowhere America, if I say I’m Jewish and my wife is Palestinian, people are like ‘Ooooh …’”
The couple took different paths to comedy and have different styles: El-Husseini is louder, Salomon drier. But they are parlaying their marriage into a joint career. They have appeared together several times and are collaborating on a webcomic about their relationship. Called “The El-Salomons,” the comic is being drawn by the London artist Jesse Brown.