This month’s packed social calendar just got busier with nine funny men readying for their very own one-night stand in Dubai next Friday.
Produced by Showtime Arabia, Friday Night Live – Minorities Rule will see some of the top international stand-up comedians perform live at the Madinat Arena in a two-hour laugh fest that will certainly offer much more than a mere chuckle in terms of entertainment.
Headlining the playbill for the evening is Arab-American comic genius Aron Kader, who delicately describes himself as “the product of a Palestinian father and a Mormon mother”.
Kader, who successfully toured the Middle East last year as part of The Axis of Evil trio, already has a large fan base in Dubai with several Facebook fan groups dedicated to him.
The artist will be joined on stage with performers from Canada, Lebanon, Egypt and the UAE.
“People from this region love to laugh, with comedy being prevalent in films, series and even theatre. We simply decided to liven up this under-developed art form in the region,” Marc-Antoine d’Halluin, President and CEO for Showtime Arabia, tells Emirates Business.
“During The Axis of Evil Middle East Comedy Tour, which entertained more than 20,000 people across five Arab cities, we also picked some promising talents. We now want to continue to promote and develop them and others to establish the stand-up comedy culture in the region.”
While Showtime seems to be at the forefront of promoting stand-up comedy in the region, they are by far not the only players with The Laughter Factory and One-Night Stand comic nights occupying similar space in Dubai’s entertainment calendar.
“Comedy is great entertainment and stand-up is the rawest form of comedy,” says d’Halluin on the recent surge in stand-up comedy shows in the region, adding: “The hunger for regionally relevant stand-up comedy in the Middle East was apparent from the success of the Axis of Evil tour.”
D’Halluin says because comedy has no borders, its relevance in today’s stressful existence is even more.
“Minorities across the world share many common issues and a stand-up comic can deliver a humorous spin on these issues; whether it is family related, work or relationships, there are universal themes that resonate across nationalities,” he says.
“We have carefully picked the line-up to reflect the relevance, like Sugar Sammy explaining about his Indian roots, Nemr Abou Nassar talking about Lebanon or Ronnie Khalil giving us his take on being raised Egyptian in the US.”
Indeed, the line-up sounds promising but nine comics in two hours seems a lot like a sampler portion of each artist’s bag of gags.
However, d’Halluin is quick to point out that in comedy clubs across Europe and other Western countries, your average line-up for an evening usually comprises up to 10 performers or more.
“The best thing about a larger number is that you get the best of what each comic has to offer. And in our case, it is an embarrassment of riches. There are definitely stars in the line-up, but each member of the audience will take away a favourite based on their preference,” he says.
D’Halluin says stand-up comedy is like music; you can tune in to a radio station in a car and each person in that car will enjoy the same hour of music, but will have a different favourite track.
“Arabs, Indians, Filipinos, Westerners… even Arabic speaking Koreans will feel an affinity with some or all of the comedians performing on the night, so set your laugh-o-meter to maximum and simply kick back to have some fun.”
Friday Night Live – Minorities Rule. At the Madinat Arena. Tickets priced at Dh195, Dh295 and Dh425. Age restriction: eight years and above. Show starts at 9pm. Call: 04 366 8888
Aron Kader The Palestinian-American is best known for his Axis of Evil comedy routine. And yes, he is the cute one of the three.
Sugar Sammy Touted as the next Russell Peters from Canada, this Indian-born rising star has even opened for comic king Dave Chappelle.
Ron Josol This Canadian stand-up comedian of Filipino descent hit it big time thanks to his shows posted on YouTube.
Dwayne Perkins This African-American sensation is regular on Comedy Central and one of the hottest names on the US comedy circuit.
Mike Batayeh This Jordanian-American hit the big leagues when he appeared on the TV show, Everybody Loves Raymond.
Ronnie Khalil The Egyptian-American is a well-known name in the US, with credits including performances on Conan O’Brien.
Nemr Abou Nassr This Lebanese national recently made headlines in his home country when his 90-minute stand-up comedy performance sold out within hours.
George Azmy The Egyptian, who was discovered during Showtime’s Axis of Evil Middle East Tour talent search, will perform new material.
Wonho Chung This Jeddah-born South Korean-Jordanian was discovered by Showtime during the Axis of Evil Tour.
Our own resident funnyman
Emirates Business caught up with Dubai-based Wonho Chung, the 26-year-old South Korean-Jordanian comic, on life under the spotlight.
Best stage line
My dubbed Mexican series skit is probably my best, people also like my Filipino/English accent.
If you came face-to-face with Osama bin Laden, you would say
It is time for a haircut and a wardrobe change.
Worst performance ever
My Showtime private staff performance. When I first started I relied on the fact that people did not know me, so when I performed in front of my colleagues I was not able to use the same set, so I ended up singing in three different languages… it was not bad, but it was not comedy either.
Worst criticism ever received
You are not funny!
Three people you would want in the audience
South Korean president, North Korean president and the King of Jordan… one down, two to go.
Best comedian ever
Russell Peters, Richard Pryor and Ellen Degeneres… take your pick.