“I quit my Job in Dubai two years ago and moved to Riyadh… May I rest in peace” Saudi comedian Mohammad Bazaid quipped in a Saudi-only stand-up show held on Friday in Dubai.
The first Saudi-only comedy show in the region featured prominent names from the kingdom’s comedic community who performed in front of a diverse audience.
Funny-men Yasser Baker, Mohammad Bazaid and Thamer al-Meshari hosted the show which was the last of a series held during August.
Until recently social media has been the only tool for Saudi comedians to express themselves and reflect sarcastically on national issues.
The idea of a real life, in the flesh, stand-up show was born after organizers noticed the success various Saudi YouTube stars were attaining.
Yasser Baker, co-Founder of the first Saudi comedy club in Jeddah, explained that comedians need to interact to produce new, innovative, ideas, predicating the need for such a club.
The club “helps us in brainstorming and producing excellent ideas” he told Al Arabiya English.
It is an “excellent opportunity for us to always be around comedians.”
Chairwoman and CEO of TIME agency, Saudi Princess Ameera al-Taweel, manages the comedians and plays a major role in expanding the comedy scene in the country.
“It is a new industry not only in Saudi Arabia, but in the middle east in general,” HH al-Taweel told Al Arabiya English.
“We created this agency not only to discover talent but to make sure that they are sustainable in the market place and they get to develop as well, and become global.”
She did, however, lament the lack of female comedians in the home-grown industry.
“There are very few Saudi female comedians that are trying to make it and for us we don’t look at gender we look for the talent,” she said.
“We are desperately looking for female comedians who are looking to be publicized.”
These aren’t your regular ‘dad jokes’
What makes us laugh? Baker thinks it’s the ability to tailor one’s comedic material to a particular audience that will get us all chuckling.
“We have found that whenever you are using observational comedy it goes well universally” he said.
Bazaid believes that as Saudis, in comparison with Western comedians, his contemporaries are limited as to what jokes they can and cannot tell, due to “cultural restrictions.”
Baker further noted that religiously based jokes do not go down well with audiences in the Gulf, to bounce back “we either convey it differently or presume that the audience wasn’t ready to hear it,” he told Al Arabiya English.
“You have to pay attention to what is acceptable politically and what’s acceptable within the community” he added.
“We are trying our best to develop the industry regardless of the struggles we face at times” al-Meshari told Al Arabiya English.
Have we had the last laugh? Not if these Saudi comedians have anything to do with it.