Storyboard / Minnesota Comedian Ali Sultan Jokes Straight from the Heart

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Minnesota Comedian Ali Sultan Jokes Straight from the Heart

April 25, 2024

On stage, with a microphone in hand and heart on his sleeve, comedian Ali Sultan tells the stories from the chapters of his life—discussing themes of race, family and mental health.

Ali immigrated to the U.S. from Yemen at age 15 and soon discovered the thrill of stand-up comedy. For over a decade now, he has been touring across the nation, leaving a trail of laughter and thoughtful introspection in his wake. Drawing from real-life experiences, Ali’s comedy is part of a new era in stand-up that is inclusive, welcoming and yet unflinching.

We had the chance to get to know Ali as part of the upcoming premiere of the PBS series Roots of Comedy, which debuts on the PBS App on May 24 and hits the broadcast schedule in June.

How do you typically introduce yourself? 

Ali Sultan: I am a stand-up comedian, immigrant and proud father of two cats. I have been doing stand-up for 13 years and I still love it very much. I am inspired by the creative people I have met in Minneapolis, New York City and on the road. I enjoy living life intentionally and being spiritual.

What made you decide to be open about your experiences as part of your comedy routine?

 Ali: Comedy helps me express and offload heavy feelings. I generally just talk about thoughts and feelings that resonate. Jokes are just marking chapters of my life, some that have ended and some ongoing. I don’t think too much past self-expression and what makes me laugh. Mental health is an ongoing theme in my life, and that’s why I talk about it.

Are there any stories that have really stuck with you throughout your time on the road? 

 Ali: Every time I do shows, there is something interesting I learn about people or myself. You really learn about people in comedy. Moments repeat themselves, too. My favorite thing is when people continue to support me like a family member. I have honorary moms, dads and brothers. Fans have invited me to their homes, businesses and even to two weddings.

How have your family and relationships shaped you and your work? 

 Ali: My mom is a huge inspiration for me. Without her, I wouldn’t be here. My sisters are wonderful and supportive. My girlfriend is my rock. My friends are inspiring and kind. Life is about relationships. I am happy to be surrounded by many supportive people. I thank them all.

Why not catch his contagious laughter in person? You’ll be able to see him perform, along with some of his friends in humor, at the TPT Roots of Comedy event on May 29 at Sisyphus Brewing. Find out more at

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2024. All rights reserved.


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