Phenomenal Saudi Revolution

Posted: March 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

To begin with, I apologize to all the politics maniacs…this is not going to be about politics nor about the recent revolutions in the Arab World nor about the “awaited” revolution in Saudi Arabia…It is about a much more needed revolution (in my opinion); it’s about changing perspectives towards the big taboo in Saudi Arabia; entertainment!

And I have to admit it…I went to the Stand-up Comedy Show by Luxury Revolution with the intention of finding fault and criticizing anything and everyone who will be on that darn amazing stage at my beloved workplace Dar Al-Hekma College. I have a hobby of reviewing and critiquing TV shows and soap operas; a hobby that doesn’t thrive at all in Saudi Arabia. This hobby emerged after I have studied the father of modern comedy & criticism, Bernard Shaw, for more than 5 years.

I went to the show with this great urge to criticize …I haven’t done this for a while, so my hands/keyboard was aching to write and criticize (evil laugh).

But wait…ladies and gentlemen (or ladies and girls for the sake of segregation and other Saudi issues), I hereby introduce to you my review of the first Stand-Up Comedy in Jeddah…

The show was hosted by Omar Hussein, presenter and star of a you tube show called Ala AlTayer or “Quickies”– this is my translation but it might be translated differently. And to be honest, I didn’t like Omar on the program that much…Everybody was raving about him and his program, but I thought he was just alright without  the “WOW” factor. Today, during the afternoon show, I saw a natural talent thrive and shine. What distinguishes Omar is his unique spontaneity yet very witty and thought-provoking humor. Now that alone deserves THE WOW!! A natural intelligent guy with a naughty yet innocent sense of humor from Saudi Arabia! That is something very rare among comedians, especially in the Arab World let alone a country like Saudi Arabia!

Omar is well aware of so many controversial issues and he kept throwing them “lightly” at the audience, making them laugh and think at the same time. He tackled the issue of arranged weddings in Saudi Arabia and more importantly tackled the issue of equality between men and women in less than two sentences in a very brilliant and non-offending way. You want “blind & complete” equality? Then let’s kiss every time we meet girls and see what happens! I would add to that (from a woman’s perspective), let’s wow a guy’s breasts every time he walks into the room or maybe his full lips and the smell of his hair spray!

 

Omar Hussein

Omar Hussein

It’s a message that I am sure offended many “complete” equality seekers…but who cares? Comedy has to offend “someone”! He also had a message for the guys who show off their boxers…..loved the messenger in your pants thingy!

What I felt during every interval Omar Hussein popped at is that his program has been burying his real talent all that time! Now if somebody can make me laugh till my jaws hurt, he must be really funny! (I’m too humor-conceited I believe)…and by the way Omar…you are cute and I have to say it in Arabic “Ya naso 3aleik” I am like your mother, so it’s ok to be turned off  …you will sure have a lot of girls seeing something else in you! A last word to Omar…never force your audience to stand up in the mid of the crowd! They might have stage fright …don’t expect all people to be familiar with the being under the lime light like you…besides…your job is to make people laugh, not feel embarrassed.

And now ladies and gentlemen, let’s go to Fahad Al-Butairi and “Put a Sock in It” – That’s my translation for his Arabic comedy program (La Yekthar)!

Fahad…well…ummm…errr….I don’t know what to say…don’t want to disappoint anyone….Nah…just kidding! Fahad is really great and he doesn’t need me to confirm this fact! Fahad is a first class comedian…His appearance helps him a lot in delivering his messages, which revolve also around shattering social norms. When a rebellious nature is combined with intelligence and sense of humor all in tiny body, it produces a huge, great talent! Personally, I found Fahad’s jokes very new and fresh to my taste as he handles everyday Saudi issues along with mother-son hide & seek games to pin them down through marriage in a very simple yet intriguing way. Every time he cracks a joke, I think to myself, “damn! Why haven’t I thought of that before!” His joke about the Egyptian sports trainer was just awesome…I heard a lot about what goes in men’s gyms, but never thought of it as torture for some guys. His style is very American and reminds me a lot of Seinfeld. However, I could relate to Fahad much more than to the American pro.

I believe Fahad and Omar are two sides of the coin; one demonstrates the Hijazi wit and hilarity and the other displays the unique sense of humor from the Eastern Province.

 

Fahad AlButairi

Yet the surprise (to me at least) during this show was seeing four other comedians that I haven’t heard of before. Honestly, I thought I would only see Omar and Fahad and yawn for the rest of the show. But the other talents blew my mind. Waddah Swar, a Bahraini businessman and pilot (that’s how he was introduced), had this classic and classy flavor of comedy! Something that reminded me of the good old times when comedy was not just a clownish cliché.  His messages were deep and very significant from my point of view. The never dying gender jokes were really great and gave us the answer to the eternal question “why can’t men understand women?” Because of their eyebrows (criticizing the new eyebrow styles that makes a woman look surprised at all times whether she’s sad or happy). Of course, there is no point in retelling or writing Waddah’s jokes because his hypnotizing presence makes even the silliest jokes alive and funny (not that his jokes are silly). Among one of the many things that I liked about Waddah was his brilliant and wise use of body language (I didn’t see that in the others). Way to go, Waddah! Your the pro!!

In a nut shell, Waddah is a comedian who can imitate women and dance like them yet never makes you forget for a second that he is a normal “straight” man (at least I hope so) LOL

 

Waddah Swar - the guy with the thobe

The other surprise was Khaled Khalifa, a Saudi comedian that I never heard of before! He is plainly talented, funny, and bright. He dealt with daily social encounters that might pass by without noticing, yet he captured them in his own shocking way. Khaled used the oldest trick in the book; laughing at himself and at the way he looks, and it actually worked like magic. Khaled’s performance shows that old school ploys never get old, mimicking our society as it is without polishing it or trying to be funny. He was simply funny using the “as-seen-in-real-life” method and being himself! Go go go, Khaled!

On the other hand, Hesham Mansari, an emerging Saudi comedian who participated in Arabs Got Talent a while ago, was extremely hilarious, paving his success in his own way; imitating different accents in the Arab region. Now I know some would accuse him of being racist, but obviously he meant no nationality in specific, and it was all for the sake of making the audience have a good light laugh. Nevertheless, I believe he needs to work more on his punch lines and not to depend only on the variation of the accents. Doing different accents is for sure his strongest point, but I am certain he could come up with more brilliant and creative dialogues to fire his pranks.

The two remaining comedians are Mohammad Kamal from Qatar and Rami Salame from Lebenon. Now I have left these two to the end not because they are less talented, but because they kind of lost their audience in the middle of their performances. When Mohammad Kamal stepped on stage, he almost owned it with his unmatched energy and vigor, starting his show with a Justin Beiber act, which was extremely successful and hilarious. But when he began to talk about Arabs Got Talent’s Judges, he flunked a bit at times and had his gleaming moments at other times. When he started to criticize Qusay (Saudi innovative rapper) very harshly, I guess he lost his audience, which consisted mostly of girls. I found the jokes about Qusay funny and non-offensive but pointless, and I know that some girls cannot bear listening to anything negative said about “their” Qusay! I think Mohammad should have researched deeply on Qusay’s status in Jeddah and about his rapport and his huge range of fans that consists mostly of females, especially those living in Jeddah. Again, the jokes weren’t bad, but they weren’t appropriate for an audience that adores their first Saudi professional rapper. I think if the jokes were told in an all-male audience, things would have been great, but attacking many girls’ idol was too much.

And now, we come to Rami Salame, Lebanese comedian, who also had a strong and exciting kick off, but lost the audience somehow toward the mid – end of the show. Rami’s gender jokes about women’s obsession with shopping and home decoration were amazing and very creative. I applaud for his brilliant and well-written punch lines.  However, when he used the “hole – whole” joke, he failed horribly! Man! You are in a place that is full of females (mostly virgins)! Personally, I was offended and felt a rather chauvinist tone in the jokes. I know I said comedy can be offensive, but not to this extent. I also know it was just a joke, but it’s mainly this type of “guy” joke that no one can relate to except men because a woman to some of them is just a “whole” without the “w”! Sorry I had to spit it out this way! Rami had other dirty jokes (basically ones that would make men go LMAO). In the evening show, Rami took into consideration the feedback on his afternoon show, dropped some lines and played it “culturally and gender” safe, and he should be thanked for this. I know he is not convinced of crossing out these jokes, and I don’t think that he will understand how we women feel when hearing such jokes. Cultural, age, and gender sensitivity wanted, dear Rami! And I laughed a lot despite my shock!

 

Rami Salame

I got out of the show with a big smile, a headache (got carried away laughing and screaming), sore jaws from not being able to stop laughing, and a different, fresh perspective. Suddenly, I became this positive lady who wants to write the nicest thing about those guys! And whatever nastiness that was in my review, was just for the sake of adding spices!  Those young guys are not “clowns”! They are the essence of genuine comedy performances, and they are the mirror of our lives! They brought life and light to us in a society that always associates fun with forbidden and corrupt acts.

I wonder how much youthful energy was absorbed today? Can’t help dreaming of “innocent” entertainment in my country and those guys helped me believe that my dream will come true very soon!

Now…Would I attend this comedy show again…this very same one? You bet ya! Would I pay 350 or 250 for a ticket? Surely I will! It’s worth every riyal! Much money is spent on stuff to show off, but very little is spent on stuff for the soul and heart!

 

Me before the show!

Me before the show - Come on guys show me what you got & I'll criticize you1

 

Me after the show! 🙂

Me after the show - sigh*

Thanks to Luxury Revolutions for making this happen!

Thanks to the Student Government at Dar Al-Hekma College for their efforts!

Thanks to the amazing audience!

Thanks to the amazing woman who encourages youth and freedom of speech, Dr. Suhair Al-Qurashi, President of Dar Al-Hekma College and all the vice deans in the college who encouraged this show whole-heartedly!

Thanks to all the anonymous soldiers who made this event a gigantic success!

P.S.

Sorry if some of my info is incorrect. I was so keen on posting this review tonight before I go to sleep. And if there is any wrong info, I will be glad to make changes.

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Comments
  1. Erica says:

    Wow Maha!! That’s one of the best reviews I’ve ever read!!
    Usually reviews are dull and are full of jargon as if they are made for people not to understand!
    But your review is very well-written and it’s also fun to read!

    It’s great that something like this is happening in Saudi Arabia!

    Thank you for bringing beauty to the Saudi blogging world!

  2. Lulu says:

    Ms. Maha! Great article!!
    The show was awesome and you described the guys really well!

    I loved Omar and Waddah especially ❤ ❤ ❤

    By the way…wish I can see you in such a big event one day you should have your own show you know

    Love you my beautiful and best teacher ever!!

    Lulu

  3. […] Phenomenal Saudi Revolution Of course, there is no point in retelling or writing Waddah's jokes because his hypnotizing presence makes even the silliest jokes alive and funny (not that his jokes are silly). Among one of the many things that I liked about Waddah . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response , or trackback your own site. […]

  4. safiya says:

    Waddah is amazing. I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with him on a day to day basis and he never stops being funny. Its not just on stage that he has an amazing presence but in life too. He made a small joke the other day about a guy on the road and it will be difficult to explain but I have been laughing about this joke every single day since and i think its been like 2 weeks !!! 🙂 The best is yet to come !!!!!! 🙂 Congrats everyone on an incredible show that has gotten so much positive feedback !!

  5. Rami says:

    Hi Maha,

    First of all, thanks for the wonderful and well-written review. But I want to elaborate on a point you made:

    It seems there was a misunderstanding on your part about my “whole” joke. Actually, the girl says “he made me feel whole again” in response to the magician slicing her in half and then combining her again. There was no play on “hole”, as I’m definitely not interested in childish, or immature jokes.

    Rest assured that there is not the slightest chauvinism in any of my jokes. Actually, the joke is on my YouTube page if you want to verify the information.

    Thanks again for the well-written review of the entire show. I’m sure we can all benefit from your feedback 🙂

    Keep up the good work!!

    Rami

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