As Mohammed Amer stepped onto his plane in New York City on Wednesday, he noticed an unmistakeable murmur that struck him as odd.
The comedian, who was on his way to Scotland for the start of his Human Appeal Comedy Tour, had been upgraded at the last moment, a pleasant surprise considering the length of the trip. But once onboard, it was clear something was up. When he finally reached his seat, he knew exactly what.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Amer thought to himself.
Seated to his right was none other than Eric Trump, the third-oldest child of President-elect Donald Trump, and the woman behind them was clearly upset about his presence. “She looked at me and said, ‘I wouldn’t even sit next to him if I were you,’” Amer recalled to The Huffington Post. He, though, had a different reaction: “Thank you, God.”
Amer is an Arab-American man of Palestinian descent who was born in Kuwait and came to the U.S. as a refugee. His stand-up comedy frequently touches on issues like immigration and what it’s like to travel the world as a Muslim man. And now, here he was sitting next to a Trump, a perfect breeding ground for future material.
“Yo, and I’m not doing that shit. I’m not going to get an ID, a Muslim ID, and all this crap. I’m not doing that. Fuck that.”
Amer took his seat and said something to Eric along the lines of, “You don’t even know how fantastic this is for me. I’m a Muslim named Mohammed who happens to be a stand-up comedian, and I’m sitting next to you. Its perfect.”
Then, in the politest way he could, Amer let him know something else.
“I was like, ‘Yo, and I’m not doing that shit. I’m not going to get an ID, a Muslim ID and all this crap. I’m not doing that. Fuck that,’” Amer explained.
Amer said that Eric told him nothing of the sort would happen. “He goes, ‘Come on, man you really think we’re going to do that? We’re not doing that.’ That’s what he said. ‘We’re not doing that.’
“I was like, ‘OK, fantastic.’”
As Amer and Eric got to talking, the comedian told him that he had toured with Dave Chappelle. When Eric heard that, he had a request: “Tell him to take it easy on [my dad].” To which Amer responded, “That’s not gonna happen. We are not going to take it easy. It’s not our job to take it easy on you guys.”
“I just know we had a good, decent conversation, and I think that proves that we can talk to each other, and I think that's what’s most important.”
Amer long thought Donald Trump had a shot at winning the election, an opinion that caused some dust-ups with fellow comedians before last month. But he has never really believed that Trump will follow through on a lot of his scariest promises, seeing him instead as someone who said whatever was needed to win. His conversation with the president-elect’s son only further solidified his beliefs.
“The vibe that I got was that it was all a game [to the Trumps],” Amer told HuffPost. “This whole thing was a game. I don’t think there’s any regret about what they’re doing and what they had to do to win.”
Amer said Eric seemed “disconnected” from the fear and hate crimes plaguing people across the country right now, an issue Amer cares passionately about. But they did agree on one thing. When Amer said Donald Trump “play[ed] the media like a fiddle,” Eric concurred.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, he did.’”
We asked Amer whether he thought Eric took anything away from their flight together. He said he wasn’t honestly sure, but added, “I just know we had a good, decent conversation, and I think that proves that we can talk to each other, and I think that’s what’s most important.”
He continued, “We need to [be able to] talk about these things intelligently and work through the problems and find the solutions.” Not, Amer concluded, create “more chaos and more hate between us.”