It is a well-known fact that Egyptians get by with their great sense of humour, a truth that was evident during the Egyptian revolution.
So naturally one would expect that a stand-up comedy show would have you off your chair and leave you breathless from laughter. However this wasn’t the case with the stand-up comedy show by comedians Ali Quandil and Tamer Farag, which took place on 1 March at El Sawy Culturewheel.
Initially it was set to be held on 13 February and dedicated to bashing the nauseatingly-red Valentine’s Day, but with the revolution that surprised all, new and fresh material was hovering about, crying out to be satirised.
As entertaining as the show was - most of it was improvised since they hadn’t prepared enough material for the show - the plethora of strange occurrences and satiric material needed a lot more wit and sharp political and social commentary.
It is difficult to try to compete with the humour of the protest signs, the funny hash tags like #whymubarakislate and the general jokes in abundance during the past month, especially if one is improvising.
With the shared experiences and the videos that spread around the internet which have become so familiar, one can say that this was one show that could relate to all - and it was quite evident in the audiences’ reactions and input. Audience members asked the comedians several times about some phenomenon or other to mock. The show felt like a warm gathering of friends who exchanged jokes about what’s going on, rather than two comedians giving their insightful vision.
A large segment - perhaps the funniest - was mocking the reactions of celebrities during the revolution.
Of course, the names are all well-known. There was Samah Anwar, who said let them [the protestors] burn on national television, and Essam Zakaria, who tried to defame protestors by saying they were using drugs and having sex in their tents. “The tents were very small,” said one of the comedians, “no, I mean really small. Unless he doesn’t know how the process goes.” He then told Zakaria to “go cook for the president in Sharm El Sheikh.” Zakaria had starred in a film entitled Tabakh el Rayess (The president’s cook) a few years back.
The jokes around the check points manned by citizens also got some laughs and cheers. “We got to do what was done to us by the police officers,” said one comedian telling the story of checking a police car and asking for their license. “You don’t have your seatbelt on,” they told the officer “so, you either give me LE300 or I’ll confiscate your license.” As the officer gave him the money and was about to take off, the man called him back, gave him the money and said: “I just wanted to show you what you have been doing to us.”
One memorable moment was when one of the comedians said that the problem of unemployment will be solved now since revolutionaries are needed in Bahrain, Yemen and Algeria. “We’ll only send eight to Gaddafi because Libyans are doing well on their own,” which was followed by a roar of applause. “Gaddafi,” said the other and just the mention of the name triggered heaps of laughter and clapping.
The night ended with jokes about the initial theme of the show, relationships in Egyptian society and the materialistic approach that many take towards them. They made fun of the many rings that have to be bought for a man to get married and the unnecessary amount of money spent.