|05-19-2006, 12:58 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jan 2006
Local Time: 09:31 PM
You know it'll happen soon.
Life's funny for Muslim mom__________________
By Joey Bunch
Denver Post Staff Writer
Castle Rock - Rubi Nicholas' life is a sitcom waiting to happen: a working mom, a stay-at-home dad, two precocious kids, a Muslim family trying to fit into a white neighborhood in a post-9/11 world.
She would be the star, of course, but the TV deal would bring America's newly crowned "funniest mom" a new set of co-stars.
"Jake Gyllenhaal," she said, naming her choice for a new hubby, the dashing 25-year-old "Brokeback Mountain" movie star.
"So? I can play 25," said the 36-year-old mother of two. "Shut up!"
These are things she thinks about since winning Nick at Nite's "Search for the Funniest Mom in America" last week.
Her prize, besides $50,000, is the chance to make a TV show about her life. Material sprouted around her between sips of coffee at her kitchen table as husband Ted milled about the kitchen.
Her 3-year-old daughter, Yasmin, yipped and squirmed for attention. Rubi shooshed her off to the bathroom.
Yasmin stomped her foot. "I'm not doing the pee-pee dance," she growled, spinning to depart as her tiny blue blanket fluttered like a cape.
Six months ago, such moments played out only on the hardwood floors of her Castle Rock home.
Her act is her life, and she held back little in the contest finale.
"Let me end the suspense early for you: I am 100 percent Pakistani. I know ... right? Your cabdriver, my parents."
The joke wasn't meant to offend, but to play the wrong against the right, she said.
Still, an uneasy ripple of laughter went through the studio audience, but Rubi was just getting started. Next, she brought up her "all-white" neighborhood.
"We fit right in," she said, "except every time my daughter leaves her Barbie Jeep in someone else's driveway, they call the bomb squad."
The laughs warmed, so she climbed further out.
"I'm not a traditional Muslim. I don't cover my hair, so every time I'm around other Muslims, I pretend to be Latina," she said, rolling into a parody that rang with street credibility.
On more familiar comic ground, the audience roared.
The scantly trained mom made comedy look easy, said show host Katey Sagal, a.k.a. Peg Bundy from the Fox sitcom "Married ... With Children."
A mother of two, Sagal knows about raising kids beyond the camera's unblinking eye. "You either laugh or you cry," she said.
Rubi's smile is as infectious as a yawn, her bubbly giggles sound like Tickle Me Elmo.
"I think you either have that or you don't," Sagal said. "You can't learn it."
Rubi has always had "it." As young as 6 years old, Rubi played to an adoring audience - her father.
A doctor and immigrant, he habitually tripped over American phrases. Rubi recalled how he once was mad at someone. Channeling his staccato accent, she barked, "Someone ought to call her and chew her up," instead of chew her out.
Rubi grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania where Muslims were so rare that they might as well have been martians, she said.
"We were so new that kids didn't know any ethnic slurs, so they had to invent them."
It was fertile ground, she said, because comedy is often about coping. "I would feel out of place, but if I could make people laugh it would draw people in. It helped other people see I wasn't that different."
She wonders how having a TV series would change her life, her job as an insurance-company executive and her husband's task of tending the kids. Right now, any possible show is still in a concept stage.
She and her husband were at a Knights of Columbus fish fry. The competition for funny moms was airing each week.
Rubi whispered to her husband that her TV profile might preclude such casual outings, just as a little girl from their 6-year-old's school bounded up, bursting with excitement. Ah, her first fan, Rubi thought.
"Are you the lunch lady?" the child blurted at Ted, who volunteers to serve food at the school.
Oh well, if her star doesn't soar, Rubi won't crumble. "I've got a good day job."
Staff writer Joey Bunch can be reached at 303-820-1174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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