(From left) Jess Salomon and Eman El-Husseini AKA the El-Salomons. (Photo/Mike Bryk)
(From left) Jess Salomon and Eman El-Husseini AKA the El-Salomons. (Photo/Mike Bryk)

Married Jewish-Palestinian lesbian comedy duo brings ‘one-bed solution’ to Peninsula

There are mixed marriages. And then there’s Jess Salomon and Eman El-Husseini.

Jess is an Ashkenazi Jew from Montreal, Eman a Palestinian Muslim from Kuwait. They’re lesbians, they’re comedians, and they’re married. If all that sounds hilarious, they think so, too.

Salomon and El-Husseini enjoy thriving solo careers in stand-up. They also team up on stage together as The El-Salomons, finding humor in themselves, the world around them, and their extra-long hyphenated descriptor of married Canadian-Jewish-Palestinian-Muslim lesbians.

As El-Husseini said, their life together is “a current event.”

In celebration of Pride Month, the El-Salomons will perform June 23 at Club Fox in Redwood City. The 21-and-over event is sponsored by the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto and the Peninsula JCC of Foster City.

Though there was a time when comedy duos were common (think Rowan & Martin, Nichols & May, Burns & Schreiber), no other interfaith lesbian comedy duo exists, and if it does, Salomon jokes, “We’d have assassinated them.”

The El-Salomons have toured coast to coast and in 2020 taped a TV special, “Marriage of Convenience.” In their act, the two talk about their lives together (they’ve been a couple for more than a decade) and how they work around cultural differences. They call it the “one-bed solution.”

Salomon teases her wife about her angry driving; El-Husseini teases back that Salomon isn’t as Canadian-nice as she seems. (When deplaning, Salomon confesses she sometimes tightens the seat belt on the airplane so the next person to come on board feels fat.)

But not too far under the surface, they send a message: The El-Salomons go through the same ups and downs of life as any other couple. It’s just that they go public with it.

“It’s how we live our life,” said El-Husseini in a phone interview from the couple’s Brooklyn home. “Our marriage was entertaining when we started quoting each other on Facebook. People think our marriage is so funny.”

Salomon grew up in Montreal’s famously close-knit Jewish community, attending the same synagogue as Leonard Cohen. She says she felt a real sense of community, and also claims her hometown has the best bagels, bar none.

She went on to become a human rights lawyer, working for the United Nations’ inquiry into war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. As if that wasn’t funny enough, she switched careers to go into comedy. She’s been a staple at clubs across North America, and has done comedy festivals such as SF Sketchfest. She also appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

El-Husseni was born to a Palestinian family in Kuwait. The outbreak of the first Gulf War led the family to immigrate to Montreal. After a stint studying political science, she, too, veered off into comedy and, eventually, lesbianism, after she met Salomon.

Jokes Salomon, “I made her gay, and she made me pro-Palestinian.”

Though they avoid hard-nose politics in their act, Salomon says her views on the Middle East have evolved since she met her wife. “I’ve been pretty outspoken in my criticisms of Israeli policy, American support and a lack of criticism in any real way of Israel’s ethnic cleansing,” Salomon said. “It’s caused issues with my family and my community. I know how upsetting it is for Eman every single day.”

Fortunately, their parents have embraced the marriage. Salomon says her in-laws have been ”very sweet to me.” Though both confess neither is very religious, the two celebrate each other’s holidays, including Passover. Their last seder together led Salomon to notice that gluten-free matzah is “the only carb improved by taking the gluten out.”

The two also have launched a line of El-Salomons merch, all of it branded with their adorable logo, “Thank Allah for Challah.”

The two hope to stay in New York, but have been alarmed by the steadily worsening political climate for the LGBTQ community in America.

“Lately we’ve been watching what’s happening — the leaked draft on overturning Roe v. Wade — and how that will open the door to revoking all kinds of rights,” Salomon said. “This panic around trans people is so upsetting. I didn’t think we would slide back like this.”

By the nature of their jobs, Salomon and El-Husseini try to put a brave and smiling face on it all, and hope that their comedy will make the world just a little bit more cheerful. It’s a task they intend to keep doing together as a married couple and as a comedy duo.

“We can’t break up,” Salomon said, “because we can’t let anybody be right about us not working out.”

The El-Salomons will perform 8 p.m. Thursday, June 23 at Club Fox, 2209 Broadway, Redwood City. $23. Proof of vaccination or negative PCR test required.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.