Biography

Mahmud Farjami (Ph.D. in Communications, journalism) is an Iranian writer, journalist, and humor scholar. He has published political satires in Persian (and, occasionally, non-Persian) media for more than a decade and has done a great deal of research in the field, most notably his thesis on political satire (2014, Universiti Sains Malaysia). He has also published eight books, some peer reviewed papers, and more than 300 articles and essays, and he received the GSA award at the 24th Annual Conference of the International Society for Humor Studies in 2012.

While studying for his Master’s degree in philosophy at IAU in Tehran in 2001 he began to work for the media as a satire writer, reporter, and technical consultant.

As one of the first computer literates familiar with journalism, Mahmud was invited to launch leading Persian web journals such as “Baztab.” Around 2003, that site turned into the most popular news site in Iran. Mahmud made contributions as an editor and satirist until the site was banned by the government in 2007.

Mahmud also served as an editor for the Iranian Labour News Agency, the first private Iranian news agency, and as Editor-in-Chief of the Tehran biweekly Peyk-e Bargh-e. In the meantime, he also published his works in Iran’s leading newspapers, such as the Hamshahri and Shargh dailies and the Kheradnameh monthly, and on websites, such as Gooyanews and his personal weblog debsh.com. As one of the first Iranian bloggers, Mahmud established iTanz.net in 2006, which became the main hub for contemporary Persian satire in Iran, with many leading Persian satirists from various countries contributing to the site. As the most-cited Persian website promoting humor, cartoons, and scholarship on humor, iTanz received a lot of attention, including from the Iranian authorities, who did not tolerate its critical stance or its popularity. Although filtered since 2009, iTanz.net continues its activity and has become more and more recognized by those interested in Persian satire.

After leaving the editorship of Peyk-e Bargh-e in Tehran, Mahmud has not accepted any full-time jobs, preferring instead to read and write more about satire, along with working for media as a part-time essayist and political satirist. He wrote daily political satire for the daily Tehran-e Emrouz [Tehran Today], for the Fararu website, and for many other media outlets.

Mahmud’s articles about Persian satire for BBC PersianTehran ReviewRadio Zamaneh, Iranwire, Kheradnameh, Shargh, and Hamshahri gradually took on a more scholarly twist. At one point, he was invited to produce a weekly program for Radio Goftegoo, a radio station that concentrates on satire in Persian literature and journalism. The program, entitled “Tanz-Goftar,” was written and hosted by Mahmud and aired weekly for around one year.

While editing the special issues of Kheradnameh, a philosophical monthly on humor, Mahmud noticed the necessity for methodological developments in the study of Persian humor. Subsequently, he decided to strengthen the rigor of his research through academic scholarship.

Mahmud has also written and performed some comedy and satiric works, including more than 70 satiric items for the Holland-based Radio Zamaneh, tens of humorous items for Radio Javan, and some standup comedies in Iran and other countries in both Persian and English. He has also published tens of essays and articles on analyzing content and the function of media for Shargh, BBC Persian, Tehran Review, Radio Zamaneh, and Kheradnameh.

While in exile, Mahmud started his Ph.D. at the School of Communications at USM, Malaysia, a state university. His dissertation, entitled “Motivations of Political Satirists in Persian Print- and Cyber-Media Satire,” examines political satirists in social, psychological, and cognitive perspectives [see a report of the thesis here].

The results of his research have been presented at conferences, including the prestigious annual conference of the International Society for Humor Scholars in Poland in 2012 and at the International Summer School and Symposium on Humor and Laughter in Finland in 2012 and in  Germany in 2013. Mahmud was also invited to serve as a keynote speaker at the Colloquium of the Australian Humor Studies Network, held by the University of Sydney in February, 2013.

To provide humor studies in Persian, Mahmud co-founded the International Society for Persian Humor (ISPH) in 2013. He has also been a member of the International Society for Humor Scholars (ISHS) since 2011. In the summer of 2015, he had a 3-month residency in Ghent, Belgium, as a visiting scholar with the Department of Communication Studies, where he continued his research on humor and held lectures on the topic.

As an Iranian writer, journalist, activist, and political satirist, Mahmud has often been hosted or interviewed by International media, including:

Ethnic jokes“, hosted by Dariush Karimi, BBC Persian, Pargar.

Political Satire and Hassan Rouhani”, hosted by Siamak Dehghanpour, VOA, Ofogh, Voice Of America Television.

Satire in Iran a ‘risky’ practice“, interviewed by Andrew Bolton, SBS, World News Australia Radio.

The life of a political satirist in Iran“, hosted by with Geraldine Doogue, ABC Radio, Saturday Extra.

Mi país, tu país“, An essay based on interview to him by Reuben Morales, Venezuelan journalist and satirist, Querre Querre.