I am not one to pass up a comedy show. But at a rate of two or more big shows every year, it is likely that I, along with other stand-up comedy enthusiasts, might soon grow weary of the trend.
If last Friday’s Comedy Rumble should teach its organizers one thing, let it be this; people will keep coming back for fresh punch lines in the shows – which should all be headlined by Egypt’s own George Azmy.
Audiences can count on Azmy to come up with new material every appearance he makes. Employing the motherland as his muse, Azmy never fails to put humorous twists on the most frustrating – and familiar – of situations.
An illustrator by day, Azmy’s dedication to stand-up comedy is evident in the way his style evolved since auditioning for the Axis of Evil comedy tour in 2007.
The creative idea behind his set – finding solutions for Egypt’s daily nuisances – made for a seamless, relatable and hilarious performance.
The show also featured newcomer Moataz Attalah, whose laidback tone, observational skills and punch lines made him an instant hit with the audience.
With anecdotes about the typical Egyptian mother and her parenting style, growing up in Alexandria and studying at the American University in Cairo, Attalah is well on his way to becoming a commanding comedian akin to Azmy.
However, some performers were not quite ready to rumble. Two aspiring local comedians – Akram Hosny and Sherif Azab – were less successful in winning over the crowd.
Azab, who performed in English, was not comfortable on stage and should’ve used more time to work on his material. Using common, unoriginal Egyptian jokes, it was clear that Azab was prematurely thrown into the spotlight.
Hosny, on the other hand, was banking on the popularity of his role as an anchor on the hit mock news program “25th Hour News. Sitting through his act was akin to being stuck in a conversation with a guy cracking one bad joke after another.
Sadly, Hosny is actually more successful as his alter ego Sayid Abu Hafiza.
Picking the audience back up were American comedian Ted Alexandro and Canadian comedian Angelo Tsarouchas.
One of the biggest names in New York, Alexandro employed punch lines that wipe out all cultural divides, ultimately proving that people of different backgrounds can find humor in the same situations.
Tsarouchas was clearly an audience favorite. His jokes about his weight and his Greek origins made him highly relatable to Egyptian audiences, even prompting a few standing ovations.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night was the show’s host Ahmed Ahmed. Because he’d exhausted his staples during his previous appearances in Cairo, the audience was anticipating new material. However, the Egyptian-American’s set was proof that we should be careful what we wish for.
Ahmed’s random anecdotes about living in Los Angeles, coupled with a few Arabic obscenities, fell flat on puzzled audience members.
His only saving grace was his improvised jokes during his interaction with the attendees.
Closing the show was everyone’s favorite Maz Jobrani. Jobrani, who built a strong fan base after his first appearance in Cairo in 2007, has the ability to elicit roars of laughter by doing stunts as silly as picking a cardboard cutout’s nose on stage.
It is safe to say that stand-up comedy is now a well-established form of entertainment in Egypt. While popular names like Ahmed Ahmed and Maz Jobrani may have helped sell the tickets, it is the newcomers that stole the show, proving that audiences are just in it for a good laugh.