x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ambassadors of laughter to face off at comedy festival

This month's Abu Dhabi Stand-Up Comedy Festival will see two Arab comedians battle it out in both English and Arabic for the Golden Star Comedy Award.

The Egyptian comedy actor Amr Katamesh. Courtesy Sky Event Management
The Egyptian comedy actor Amr Katamesh. Courtesy Sky Event Management

Two of the Middle East’s best-known comedians are set to perform in the capital this month at the second annual Abu Dhabi Stand-Up Comedy Festival.

Organised by Sky Event Management, the Lebanese comedian Nemr Abou Nassar will take on the Egyptian comedy actor Amr Katamesh on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi National Theatre.

Just for laughs

The event is supported by Sheikh Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, who will also be presenting the Golden Star Comedy Award at the end of the show.

Both Nassar and Katamesh will perform in English and Arabic for one hour each, after which the audience will decide whom to crown as the winner.

Nassar, nicknamed “Flying Tiger”, has performed to sold-out shows worldwide, while Katamesh gained stardom following his first prize win at Arabs Got Talent two years ago.

Last year, the inaugural festival drew a full house of 2,500 attendees. The general manager of Sky Event Management, Akram Sabry expects a similar turnout this year, including appearances by media figures, theatre professionals and entertainment critics from around the world.

“There is definitely a noticeable increase in demand for comedy because it is such an important part of our lives,” says Sabry. “We need comedy. It is a special art form which also brings attention to various issues. There is always a message and it is up to the audience to interpret it in their own way. It is also very fun.”

Comic ambassadors

Sabry describes both Katamesh and Nassar as “ambassadors of laughter” and promises a night not to be missed.

After performing during last year’s festival, Nasser impressed organisers with his routine, which prompted them to invite him back.

“Thousands of fans came from all over to see him. He is known as the Flying Tiger because he travels around the world proving himself to his millions of fans,” says Sabry. “His character is all in his face and when he opens any subject, there is simply no end.”

As for Katamesh, his rise to stardom is a result of his unique deliverance of jokes, which audiences will have to see for themselves to appreciate.

“Amr uses special effects in his acts to send various messages from his heart to the audiences’ hearts,” Sabry says. “And he has a new surprise especially for the Abu Dhabi audience.”

Mohammed Al Mazroui, the chairman of the organiser’s parent company Sky Organising Events, said he expects a “strong comedy match between the two parties”.

Stand-up comedy, he adds, can help make people feel relaxed, more alert and creative.

Opening doors

The stand-up comedy festival is more than just about entertainment, it is also aimed at opening the doors for other comedy enthusiasts looking for support and encouragement, not just in the UAE but across the world.

“The festival started off very small but it is now getting bigger and better. We are already planning for next year’s edition during which we expect a rise in attendance numbers,” says Sabry.

Comedy, he says, also boosts tourism.

“In 2011, we had visitors from across the region such as Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In fact, comedy events in Saudi Arabia are very popular where you can find up to 7,500 attendees at a single event,” says Sabry.

The Abu Dhabi Stand-Up Comedy Festival will be held on Thursday at 8pm at the Abu Dhabi National Theatre. Tickets cost from Dh75 to Dh375 and are available at www.timeouttickets.com. For more details, visit www.skyevent.ae

melshoush@thenational.ae