"Ed & Moe Show" Wrings Laughs Out of Dearborn

Throughout comedy history duos have been a winning combination. Think Martin and Lewis or Cheech and Chong or Harold and Kumar. Today, WDET’s Rob St. Mary introduces us to Ed and Moe, the brain child of a Dearborn filmmaker whose internet show is attracting attention locally and beyond.

(click the audio link above to hear the story)

For filmmaker Mike Eshaq, Dearborn is a strange place… but nothing like what some in the national media believe it to be.

“This place is so lame. There’s nothing that goes on around here. I wish Glenn Beck’s fantasy was true because this place would be an amusement park but it’s not that way.”

In fact, in the first episode of Eshaq’s web series – “The Ed and Moe Show” – the conservative pundit makes an appearance.

“It is the Arab capital of the United States. You don’t really have to go to Iraq to be witness to radical behavior… all you have to do in this country is head over to Dearborn, Michigan. Dearborn. As goes Baghdad, so could Dearborn.” “Are you beeping serious? Dearborn’s not like that. Dearborn’s more like this. Boring. Boring. Boring.”

The voice you just heard is Moe Makki – a Lebanese-American Muslim character played by a Lebanese-American Muslim actor. Ali Abdullah, affectionately called “bulldog” by friends, looks like the Arab-American answer to comedian Jack Black. Abdullah says his character’s outlook and accent are based on his some of his relatives who also live in Dearborn.

“It was a guy who lived in this country who was going through… his parents were going through a divorce so he was in Lebanon one year and he was in America the next and what not and traveling back and forth kind of screwed him up. So the language was never there. He could never get it right.”

But Eshaq’s characters have been getting it right with audiences over the past five years or so. He started taking filmmaking seriously around 2006. That’s when the former Marine had left his job working at Detroit Diesel and started taking improv comedy classes at places like the Second City. Soon, Eshaq met fellow actors and began to develop theatre and video ideas. He eventually bought a camera and production equipment. In time, he started to look to where he grew up for inspiration which introduced the “Moe” character to the world. Abdullah originated him in a parody of the MTV show CRIBS, a sort of what if the film crew came to East Dearborn instead of visiting another rapper’s palatial estate.

“Welcome to my house. I’m Mohammad. Come here let me show you…”

The 12 minute short, CRIBS – Arab-American Style, was commissioned by an Arab-American comedy festival. Eshaq says the video was a hit… and since it was posted on You Tube in 2009 almost 700,000 people have viewed it.

But the short also birthed the idea for a TV show. Originally called “The Boaters” it was supposed to be about two young men from the Middle East trying to make it in America. Eshaq says the title comes from a slang word for a new immigrant. As the idea evolved, the show’s second character became someone who grew up in the Arab-American community instead of a recent immigrant. His name is Ed Bailey and is played by actor Sean McGettigan.

“Dude, I’ve known Ed all my life… and to me Ed was just a white boy… a regular white boy. It wasn’t until this one time someone came up to me and said… why is your’s white buddy acting like an Arab? And that’s when it dawned on me. Ed’s a “wayrab”. It’s the word white and the word Arab. “wayrab”.

With the two characters created and work shopped in basement improv sessions… “The Ed and Moe Show” hit the internet last year.

Since then the fictitious duo has been working on a get rich quick scheme they believe no one else has thought of…

“Say you are at home watching a movie. It’s a great movie. You are enjoying yourself, right. You don’t want to leave but you’ve run out of refreshments, right. You don’t want to leave your house. You don’t want to stop watching this movie. All you gotta do is pick up your phone and call us and what do we do? We get it. Get it? We get it. Get it? We get it. We Get it.”

And people have been getting it. The Ed and Moe channel on You Tube has over two-million views. The key to their humor lies is the documentary-like presentation that is done so well that some people believe that Ed and Moe is actually a reality show. Abdullah… who is a real estate agent by trade… says the show has led local fans to approach him in area stores and restaurants.

“You know I’ve always had this dream of being an entertainer… let alone an actor. I just love entertaining people. I love putting a smile on people’s faces… and Mike will admit to this… because this is always my fear… I keep telling Mike I can’t do it or I’m not good enough or I’m scared of this or I’m scared of that. So, I think with the opportunity that we have this is my time to say “hey, you big baby. Shut your damn mouth. Get out there. Do it.” If you got a dream, basically, chase it.”

That dream is leading Abdullah, Eshaq and the Ed and Moe team to Los Angeles. Eshaq says an L.A. based producer called him recently. The producer was a big fan of Ed and Moe and wanted them to come to Hollywood to see if they might have an opportunity to work together in some way. Eshaq says the offer is important because for him he’s getting to a point where he needs to create a career that involves his passion for filmmaking. Right now, he says he’s thinking that the characters might have what it takes to make a bigger move.

“Would a TV show take on a story where the main character is an Arab-American? Does it distract from the story? I think that even doing Ed and Moe… I found out that some people seem to be distracted. A lot of people are like “oh, it’s a show about Arab-Americans.” It’s not a show about Arab-Americans. It’s a show about two losers trying to win at life… one of them is an Arab-American and one is a white kid who wants to be an Arab-American. That just happens to be their “isms” because they are from Dearborn.”

“Where are we going? Going to get freeze bobs. Freeze pops! Yes, freeze bobs! You woke me up to get freeze pops, bro? He wants to go to the store to get freeze pops, seriously? I want to put the freeze bobs in the commercial to get the kids because the parents spend the money on the kids. Who’s going to call us for freeze pops? You think there’s a bunch of rich babies out there that want work done for them? Wallah, is this we get it? Go get us so freeze pops right away… I’ll give you $500! Yo wallah, that’s cute but that’s not going to happen.”

Eshaq says he doesn’t know if a season two of Ed and Moe will be heading to the web anytime soon… since he’s trying to turn his filmmaking passion into a profession. But in the meantime Eshaq says that he hopes to keep Ed and Moe alive in other videos and maybe one day the big schemers from East Dearborn could run their scam on the big screen.

I’m Rob St. Mary – WDET News.

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