The job of a stand-up comedian can be very tricky in Qatar where people are not used to being made fun of in public. This might appear as a drawback to some, but many aspiring comedians – especially youngsters - are not only challenging these limitations but also seeking professional careers as comics in the country.
Because comedy itself is quite young and at this stage non-profitable in Qatar, comics are not paid for the monthly shows. But for big shows with international artists, a local comic can make anything from $100 to $1,000 for a show here, explains Bilal Randeree, the founder of Stand-up Comedy Qatar (SUCQ).
“It is not possible for a comedian to have a full-time career here right now, but that will probably be possible in the near future,” says Randeree.
Issa El Fahoum (pictured above), a 16-year-old Palestinian origin Arab, has been building on his interactions with expatriates to generate humour. “Audiences in Qatar get offended easily, but comedians manage to come up with enough material for a show every month,” says the aspiring stand-up comedian who has already performed in over 50 shows after joining the troupe in 2011.
Although his parent’s did not take him seriously initially, after seeing him perform live, they became more encouraging, El Fahoum says. “I am planning to join my brother in Canada to study further, as well as to gain more experience of comedy so that perhaps I can pursue it as a career,” he said while adding that he would still want to have his professional qualifications to fall back on if things don’t work out as he plans.
Increasingly, many local and expatriate women are also taking their turns to perform at the “open-mic” events of SUCQ but they have not been regular, owning to time constraints- and in most cases- family restrictions.
Mariam Salim admits that the very prospect of stand-up comedy for women is challenging here because they are always judged by the society, but that has hardly stopped her from doing what she wants to do.
“I’ve been on stage before but I decided to tryout stand-up comedy because I think it’s the most challenging thing to do. I just wanted to see myself up there on the stage,” says Mariam, who will be performing for the first time with a host of comedians tomorrow at Bistro.
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