New coffee house set to tickle your funny bone
Stand-up comic Aron Kader, right, would love to know where Osama bin Laden trained as a boy scout, because "he sure does a fine job of running through the mountains of Tora Bora with a dialysis machine in tow".
The American-born Palestinian Mormon (we aren't making this up), is in Dubai to launch the Comedy Café in collaboration with Sundance Events, giving city denizens something to laugh about in these dire economic times.
Bin Laden is just one of many who will bear the brunt of the weekly stand-up comedy routine. "Comedy Café is an experiment," Kader tells Emirates Business. "By roping in international performers, we are creating public awareness of the venue. But ultimately, our goal is to attract local amateurs to hop on to stage and try their hand at stand up comedy. We would love to see a permanent comedy club in Dubai."
Over the next four Saturdays, audiences can have their funny bones tickled with international comedians, including Canada's Sugar Sammy, American-born Jordanian Mike Batayeh and Iran's Peter the Persian. Kader himself will be hosting the event every weekend and will perform solo on Valentine's Day. The organisers are also hoping to showcase at least one newcomer.
Curious about who the newcomer is? If you like, it could even be you.
Kader explains: "The headliners will only perform on Saturdays, leaving the rest of the week reserved for open mic nights and workshops. The workshops will be run by me where newcomers can witness their ideas get shaped into comedy pieces. If they're good, they can strut their stuff in front of a real audience."
And what if they bomb on stage?
"That can happen to anyone," says the 34-year-old who has toured across the world over the past 10 years, performing solo and with fellow comedians Ahmed Ahmed and Maz Jobrani as part of the Axis of Evil trio.
Citing his own example when he first took to the stage, Kader recalls: "I've performed badly on many occasions, but rather than judging myself, I kept doing it until I got better."
Over the past few years, stand-up comedy has found an audience in culture-starved Dubai.
Regular weekly gigs by The Laughter Factory, Showtime's comedy nights and sold-out tours by Canada's Russell Peters are just some of the events we have witnessed since 2007.
Yet many complain such events are too commercial, forgoing the intimate surroundings of a comedy club to make way for 'concert performances' that pack in crowds of 1,000-plus, losing out on the stand-up comic's interaction with his audience.
But Kader plays the diplomat: "Because there is no permanent place for comedy here – it is a transient art that moves from venue to venue – you never know what type of energy you will feel. Although I will say that a concert arena is the anti-thesis of comedy. It's all about sharing your experience; intimacy is key."
Does this mean we can expect more comedy nights in intimate coffeehouses such as Comedy Café, which seats no more than 200 people?
"The Comedy Café concept can be produced any where – a dance floor or a little bar. Heck, I've even performed at a laundromat when I was first starting out nearly 10 years ago."
After Dubai, Kader will head back to hometown Washington DC and work the circuit there. "It's time to work on some new stuff. Now that the comedy world has suffered a great loss since President George Bush has stepped down, it's time to watch President Barack Obama slip up, and it will happen," he laughs.
Comedy Café nights are held every Saturday at The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence. Canada's Sugar Sammy performs tonight. Mike Batayeh and Peter the Persian to stage on February 7, and Aron Kader on February 14. Tickets are Dh100 and available at the door. Call 050 505 5092
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