Spring comedy preview: Rising comic Nina Kharoufeh is part of 'Low Key Comedy Show'

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

When Nina Kharoufeh told her friend Godfrey —  a well-known comedian and actor whose career spans more than 20 years — that she wanted to be a stand-up comedian, he didn't mince words with the aspiring comic. 

"He gave me the honest truth: it's going to be hard," said Kharoufeh. "He laid it down for me, and he was right."

Stand-up comedian Nina Kharoufeh is part of the Low Key Comedy Show coming to the Baldwin Theatre in Royal Oak on April 9.

After trying it out and performing "terribly," she admits, the New Jersey native started taking comedy classes and worked to hone her skills. She's performed not only all around New York City where she is based, but across the country as well, including Detroit. 

Kharoufeh, 27, returns to Metro Detroit this spring as part of the Low Key Comedy Show April 9 at the Baldwin Theatre in Royal Oak. Created by Detroit native Paul Elia, who is now a Los Angeles-based comic, the night also features a set by Ian Edwards, who has written for well-known television shows like "Black-ish" and "The Carmichael Show."

The Low Key Comedy Show also features Windsor's Dave Merheje, Danish Maqbool who appeared on season two of Hulu's "Ramy" and Metro Detroit comic Kyle Forsyth. 

"I'm super excited. I love Paul, I love Dave — all the guys are super dope," she said. "I love Detroit. I've been there for comedy a couple times in the past and the people there are super supportive and they come out and the shows always sell out ... I can't wait to put on a great show for them."

Kharoufeh, who also is training as a boxer and has a large following on TikTok, says her personal comedic style is "definitely very authentic." She said she gets a lot of inspiration from her Palestinian-American family. 

"I have no choice but to be a comedian to deal with them," she jokes, adding that her mom is more upset about her boxing than her doing stand-up. "She just thinks it's silly." 

On stage the young comic tells stories about living life as an Arab, a Muslim, an entertainer and as a woman living in New York City. 

"I have a lot of things battling against me constantly: family drama, dealing with ethnicity, being a minority, trying to break barriers and stereotypes and tryi to show that we're just normal people like everybody else, but in a comedic kind of way," she said. "So I talk about my traveling and my working and a little bit of everything."

Along with Godfrey, her comedy heroes are Dave Chappelle and Katt Williams, whom she calls "the greatest of all time." She's met both of the comedy superstars and attended the Chappelle Summer Comedy Camp in Ohio.

Kharoufeh, who studied media in school and had a job behind the scenes at Fox News for a while, says she's at a point where comedy is the thing she does the most. 

"Comedy comes first, because that's what I want to do long term," she said. She's also planning to continue training and hopefully become a professional boxer. As for the near future, Kharoufeh has a few big opportunities coming up that she will announce soon. 


Twitter: @melodybaetens

Low Key Comedy Show

with Paul Elia, Ian Edwards, Dave Merheje, Danish Maqbool, Nina Kharoufeh and Kyle Forsyth

7:30 p.m. April 9

Baldwin Theatre

415 S. Lafayette, Royal Oak 

(248) 541-6430 or stagecrafters.org

$35, $55 for VIP seating 

More Stand-up Comedy Highlights this Spring in Metro Detroit

Festival of Laughs with Sommore and more, Fox Theatre, March 26

Lisa Alvarado, One Night Stand's Comedy Club, March 31-April 2

Comedy 4 Cancer with Bill Bushart, Rebecca Conception, Paul Pipitone and more, MRCC Banquet Center, April 2

Ha Ha Davis, Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, April 3

TK Kirkland, Bert's Comedy Warehouse, April 8-10

Jim Breuer, Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, April 13

Zach Stein, Independent Comedy Club, April 15-16

Steven Crowder & Dave Landau, Royal Oak Music Theatre, April 16

Mike Geeter, Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle, April 21-23

Melanie Comarcho, Bert's Comedy Warehouse, April 22-23

Forgotten Harvest Comedy Night with Seth Meyers, Fox Theatre, April 29

Al Franken, Royal Oak Music Theatre, April 30

Comedian Anjelah Johnson-Reyes comes to Royal oak Music Theatre this spring.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Royal Oak Music Theatre, May 1

Ed Hill, Independent Comedy Club, May 6-7

No Cap Comedy Tour with DC Young Fly and more, Fox Theatre, May 7

Jim Jeffries, Royal Oak Music Theatre, May 7-8

Marc Maron, Royal Oak Music Theatre, May 14

David Spade, Royal Oak Music Theatre, May 22

Brad Wenzel, Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle, June 2-4

Nikki Glaser, Royal Oak Music Theatre, June 17

Wanda Sykes, Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, June 18

Comedian Wanda Sykes will perform at Music Hall in Detroit on June 18.