As the first-generation child of Bolivian and Iranian immigrant parents from Silver Spring, Maryland, Martin Amini learned to rely on his quick wit and sharp sense of humor. It’s the kind of humor that lends itself to declarations like “I’m the most famous Bolivian-Iranian-Comedian in the world.”
Amini jocosely banks on the fact that (as far as we know) he’s the only one with that distinct combination.
The 32-year-old has opened for prominent acts like Trevor Noah, Hassan Minaj, Jerrod Carmichael and just recently headlined his own show at the Kennedy Center. Typically, his material is mined from his cultural heritage and District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) upbringing.
His Kennedy Center Performance is documented in a recent special on YouTube dubbed “Son of an Ice Cream Man,” which has amassed 100K views in under a month. As the title indicates, his set reflects on the comical misadventures and hysterical scenarios that come with life alongside immigrant parents trying to make it in America with an ice cream truck business.
He anecdotally credits rides with his father for his own entrepreneurial spirit.
That spirit has helped him cultivate a monthly produced comedy show titled “The Overachievers.” Amini hosts and produces alongside his friend DJ Bo who provides the soundtrack to a mixed assembly of novice, up and coming and seasoned comedic talent held at the DC Improv Comedy Club and LA Comedy Store.
Initially, Amini created “The Overachievers” to get the representation he wasn’t seeing and didn’t have access to when starting his own comedy career. Over time, it’s become one of the most popular comedy shows in the area with a packed audience that reflects the diversity of its curated lineup.
“We don’t have a lot of Bolivian-American celebrities that we can look to and say ‘oh that’s someone for the culture that we can gather our support around.’ The Latin-American community isn’t that represented in comedy either so, when I can, I’m trying to hold it down for Latin Americans and Bolivians to do my part to rep them.”
I love making people laugh but it makes me happier when our lives aren’t in jeopardy.”
Over time, Amini has amassed a loyal following and garnered a lot of support from Latinx Twitter, where he regularly draws people in with his YouTube clips and humorous takes on current events. He advances the connections he’s made on social media by inviting people to his shows—many of whom he says had never been to a comedy show before.
Like most art and entertainment industries, comedy theaters have shuttered their doors because of COVID-19. This has led him to have to reconfigure his approach. Take, for example, his Overachievers podcast. The podcast currently operates as a comic therapy show of sorts that navigates through our collective, socially-distanced ennui. He also interviews other comics to gain insight into their come-up journey in the scene.
When asked if he thinks comedy is important at a time like this, Amini isn’t sure if he can offer the answer or even should just yet, but in typical, savvy fashion, he replies, “My instinctive reaction is similar to everyone else’s. You know, I’m in the same boat.”
A boat he hypothetically likens to the role he’d play if he were on the Titanic as it was sinking.
“Am I the type to pick up the violin and start playing for everyone as they’re jumping off? No, I don’t think so—I’m looking for a raft as well. Once I’m on there then sure I’ll entertain and make jokes for the people on the raft!” he exclaims.
“Safety is first, I think we’re all processing right now. I’m excited for things to go back to normal, I love making people laugh but it makes me happier when our lives aren’t in jeopardy.”
A sentiment to which we all can relate.