Stand-up Comedy Comes to Amman

الأحد 13 كانون الأول 2009

Amman Stand-Up Festival

Written by Lara Marto

AMMAN – This is what Amman had been talking about for months, this is what people had been waiting for, and this is the show where tickets sold out for all 7 nights in less than one week – one month prior to the show!

Seeing the streets of Amman full of banners advertising the 2nd Annual Amman Stand-up Comedy Festival I knew that this will be just like last year, where people go crazy for the tickets, especially those of the Russell Peters nights. In fact what was shocking this year was that the black market kicked in, selling the JD 25 ticket for JD 100. Is it worth it?

I went to two nights; the Arabian Night, and the closing night, better known as the “Russell Peters” night. From the start of the evening, the organizers were excellent, even better than last year’s, ushering people in, giving them water and a snack, efficient queuing and seating and not to forget, valet service. And they made it a point to start every show exactly on time.

closing night

Here’s a quick review of some of the comedians I saw:

Aron Kader – one of the Axis of Evil comedians, joked about his relatives in Jordan, pretty much same as his YouTube videos and DVDs. If you didn’t catch him this year you haven’t missed much.

Eman Morgan – an Egyptian American comedian who looks like a teenager although he is actually in his late twenties, he started off like many others by making fun of the way he looks. Not very funny but a good entertainer. He’s got the spirit.

Eman Al-Husseini – The Palestinian- Canadian 29 year old lady who has a very pleasant sense of humor joked about how her parents wanted her to get married to anyone that came her way, be it a bum in the street! I would want to see more of her comedy as she was very natural on stage and not imposingly funny. One awkward moment of silence, though, was when she mentioned that she is very proud that her lifelong best friend was a Jew.

Fahad Al Butairi – the first Saudi stand-up comedian to appear on stage professionally in Saudi Arabia and in the Gulf. Sharing the same culture with the Gulfies, Jordanians could relate to his sense of humor making fun of his parents and Arabic way of thinking. Fahad got a good laugh when he said that married people form a cult, they trap you into it. It’s not a surprise Fahad was chosen out of 65 English-speaking contestants as the winner of the “Be a Part of the Amman Stand-up Comedy Festival 2009” Contest.

Amer ZahrAmer Zahr – The only comedian that gave me a feeling is that he’s a real Arab. Not because of the way he looked or talked but because of his joke rationale. He started off in a smart way dancing and singing, joking about lyricists of Arabic songs nowadays days with the help of some prepared music segments. Very appealing and real Palestinian Arabic comedy. This guy is one of the good ones in the festival.

Lara Sawalha – Our local talent who auditioned for her 4 minute segment to appear in the Arabian Night. She’s a good actress but not so much as a comedian. Although the crowds cheered for her but I think she could have picked better topics for her material.

Maysoon Zayed – Maysoon is a brave 33 year old young Falla7a “farmer” as she calls herself. As usual she starts off with a joke that explains her cerebral palsy condition and warns the audience that she is not drunk on stage! Telling us about how much she hates weddings and how she finally nailed a husband, Maysoon captures the respect and laughter of the audience.

Mike Batayeh – The American comedian and actor who is of Jordanian descent and has appeared on shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “CSI Miami” cracked up the audience. His jokes kept rolling nonstop moving from one topic to the other. A proud Salti, his sense of humor is articulate making fun of our Mayor and praising him at the same time. Brilliant!

Ahmed Ahmed – The Egyptian American who is part of the Axis of Evil. I expected him to be funnier, but nonetheless he’s a great imitator and storyteller. A witty comedian, who performed more than one night in the festival, adding and deleting some jokes as he went along.

deanDean Obeidallah– the executive producer of the festival, Dean is the cute comedian who has a different sense of humor with a Palestinian- Italian- American character. What was different in his material this time was that he mentioned his Palestinian girlfriend more than once. Lucky lady.

Larry Omaha – This guy caught me off guard! I didn’t know what to expect from a grey-haired Native American. With ‘Freaks’ as his theme he declared that we’re surrounded by freaks everywhere we go! There was no Arabic reference but the audience was responding very well. Joking about the pilgrims, racism and himself, he was hilarious.

Gabriel Iglesias – The ‘Fluffy’ Mexican comedian. He uses his voice in unbelievable ways, the crowd was laughing endlessly. “I loved Gabriel” was what I heard from most people after the show.


Angelo Tsarouchas – An even bigger comedian in size, Angelo is also a worldwide comedian who is Greek-Canadian and proud of it. Because of similarities between the Mediterranean culture and ours people totally related to his jokes and applauded them.

Russell Peters

Russell Peters – A Canadian international star of Indian descent that gets a standing ovation every time he gets on stage. This guy is overrated! People are so hooked into the hype about him that no matter what he says they start laughing hysterically. As always, he picks on one of the people in the audience and others go wild. He’s funny but without really a lot of substance.

It’s always good to go see those who are not very famous, they will give you the best they have and try hard to make you laugh. Next year I’ll make sure I go see more of the not too well-known comedians.

Rating: 9/10

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