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Iranian Daily Show, Meet 'The Daily Show'

The hosts of Voice of America's "Parazit," styled after "The Daily Show," got a chance to meet their hero Jon Stewart in New York City this week.

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"Can we have you on our show sometime?" Arbabi asked.

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"Yeah," Stewart said. "Absolutely."

Twenty minutes later, it was time. Stewart played a clip from "Parazit," then beckoned Hosseini and Arbabi to the stage, as friends in the audience whooped and cheered.

It wouldn't have been an Iranian encounter without elaborate compliments on each side.

"I can see the passion in what you do and it's very engaging," Stewart said.

"It's all you, Jon," Hosseini said. Then, genuflecting, he added, "You are the prophet, you are the prophet, you are the prophet."

Looking sideways at the audience with a spooked expression, Stewart said, "So, you calling me a prophet, that will in no way get me in trouble, will it?"

Hosseini described growing up in Iran unable to express himself openly. The show, he said, offers catharsis for him and, he hopes, for people living in Iran who are still subject to its restrictions.

At the end of the interview, he had a special request. Could he try sitting in Stewart's place, just to see how it felt? The two switched seats, and Hosseini sank into the host's chair with a satisfied sigh.

"It feels like driving a Hyundai all your life, and now you're sitting in a Ferrari."

'It feels like a dream'

Outside, on West 51st Street, starry-eyed audience members approached them. "We just want to say congratulations," said Sami O'Keefe, 23, of Brooklyn. "We'd love to buy you a drink."

But "Parazit" had a barful of friends waiting - Iranian underground rockers, poets and artists who have fled the country in recent years and settled in New York and Washington.


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