Saman Arbabi


Chaharshanbeh Soori (Fire Festival) 2014 Past Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Saman Arbabi (born 1973) is an Iranian-American award winning international journalist, video director, cartoonist, host, creator and Executive Producer of Voice of America's most popular satirical television shows Parazit and OnTen. His work has been called “civic satire”, comedy with a political and media mission. He was born in Tehran, Iran in 1973, moved to France in 1984, and then the United States in 1986. He has a Bachelor of Science in Communications with a Minor in Art from the University of Maryland.

Saman Arbabi started his career as an intern for the popular DC-based radio show Diamond in the Morning after an ABC radio show producer, who liked his sense of humor, invited him to leave his job as a cook at Hooters and work with the station. In 2003, he was hired at Voice of America (VOA) as the first Iranian video journalist. As a video journalist and war correspondent, he covered Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, UAE and the 2006 IAEA talks in Vienna, Austria. He produced and reported over 100 stories from the Middle East and North Africa.

In 2009, Saman Arbabi created the show Parazit, a weekly half-hour Persian language satirical show. Arbabi's progressive and edgy style was copied so much in Iran, it prompted Iranians to coin a new term: “Paraziti,” meaning “like Parazit,” to refer to fans who dressed him. On January 20, 2011, Saman Arbabi and co-host Kambiz Hosseini made an appearance on The Daily Show as guests.

In 2011 he created the award-winning hit political satire show OnTen, which has become Iran's second most popular satire show, after Parazit, with over one million Facebook fans combined.

In 2013 Arbabi gave a talk at SXSW entitled Iranian Outlaws: Satire vs. Censorship in which, among other things, he unveiled "Weapons of Mouse Destruction," the largest global art project against internet censorship. For Weapons of Mouse Destruction he worked with counter-culture artist Shepard Fairey, invited Twitter co-founder Evan Williams to participate in the campaign.

In an election-day special broadcast on June 14, 2013, OnTen featured a segment on street artist JR's Inside Out Project and aired a special message to the Iranian people from U2's Bono.

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