Jun 29th, 2009 |
Day 4 of the tour and I was up bright and early: not because I slept particularly well but because I guess my body had given up the formality of getting any form of proper rest. Checking on my planner, I realized this morning would be the live interview of Ahmed, Maz and Peter scheduled on Saudi Channel 2.
I joined Peter and Taylor upstairs for breakfast (mmm… free food) and we headed off in his car to the news building, a heavily fortified complex housing the news channel and broadcasting equipment. Maz, Ahmed, Todd and Ali would meet us there.
Headquarters of Channel 2 television in Riyadh. The story behind its fortifications is that upon its opening earlier last century, it was raided by the religious mutawwas and the place was locked down. Infuriated, the King rounded them all up and had them executed. Channel II has been broadcasting without fail since. But the guns and soldiers are a stark reminder of how Saudi Arabia detests change.
We were all a mess in the morning. Ahmed and Maz were having trouble getting to the station because of security. Peter tries to negotiate with some people on the phone.
The negotiation didn’t work, so Peter resorted to ass-kicking. Here he runs to the police commander’s office with his fists barely in check.
Crisis resolved and a the security people defeated, Peter reverts to his cuddly self and greets the comedians as they arrive.
On the set of Channel II Morning show. Oh Saudi Arabia, if you only knew the insanity going on behind the scenes.
They had cameras covering every conceivable angle and all the interviewees. Pretty slick operation going on there!
We had our own camera people too ;P
Ali looks on as Maz and Ahmed get their 15 min of fame. No wait, they’re ALREADY famous?! Dammit, whens my turn?
And a group shot! Thank YOU everybody!
The interview done, Ahmed smokes some weed on the way back. THATS A FALAFEL YOU FOOLS!
Overall, I’d say I was really pleased by the whole visit. Channel 2 studios turned out to be a lot less ghetto than I thought it would be. What I wasn’t pleased with though was how unbelievably exhausted I was at this point. The entire tour had been starting to weigh on me. Heading back to the Sheraton with Todd and Ali, I crashed in my room and fell asleep.
Rehman Akhtar would be joining us today! He tries to look serious, but we all know he’s facebooking right now!
The British Embassy
The first of two private shows in the tour took place in the British embassy of Riyadh. Given the high security of the location and pointless bureaucracy, we were not allowed any video cameras on the premises. Which meant that I would take point in covering the show for the Ahmed Ahmed documentary.
Getting into Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter was hellish. There were two events going on there that night: The LOL comedy tour and the Swedish national day. It’s obvious the Swedes had more fun. But they wouldn’t let me into their party.. so I’m forced to put up pictures of that boring (not!) comedy tour here.
Arriving at the British Embassy. We had some hassles though, security guards hated on me for having a camera. But it was all good in the end!
We me the British ambassador at his residence. He has a pretty nice thing going in here!
The ‘in’ crowd meeting up and socializing! I love this pic: noone seems to notice little old me holding a massive camera in the corner here.
Fahad. Insanity. Nuff Said.
The night had an amazing relaxed atmosphere. It was a little hot, but Saudi has seen worse!
Everything was up and ready on time, and the crowd waited expectantly. This was a more exclusive gathering, so we didn’t have the numbers we did in the previous show. Bringing up the number tonight were ambassadors, diplomats and other people who are worth more than me 2 or 3 times over.
Peter started off the night by welcoming his fellow Brits.
Ahmed, ready for his show delves into insanity on the way. Sometimes I don’t understand the man!
On Stage! Ahmed doing one of his George Bush imitations. Ah dubya, you may not be president anymore, but you’ll be the butt of out jokes for decades to come.
Next up: British comedian Matt Asbury. I loved his matter-of-fact way of telling jokes. British humor is awesome. Please note I spelled it as ‘humor’ and not ‘humour’.
Another bit of history in the making! Taking stage was the first ever Saudi FEMALE comedian, Noufie! (Not her real name). She had great confidence and energy on stage!
Rehman Akhtar literally stole the show that night. I dont know if it was the bhangra dancing, or the desi accent, or even the crazy brit humor, but by the end of his 15 minutes, I was in tears. The crowd was roaring in laughter as well. Rehman, you killed!
Bringing up the end of the local comedians was Fahad Fatani, everyone’s favorite half Saudi half something and half Thai comedian. Wait.. was that too many halves? hmm
Before Maz’s turn, we had a short break for fooding.
Some people did more than eat. This guy stood by the seating area and started dancing like there was no tomorrow!
While Todd stood there and just looked plain awesome.
The break over, Maz blasts onto stage getting the crows all riled up by his spastic dance moves. One of these days I’ll learn to copy them. Until then, I BHANGRA!
I wish I was that mic.
At the end of the show, comedians signing shirts as usual. This one reads “I’m jealous of your hair” lol
Members of the audience as the leave the venue. I just love how this photo turned out!
A final shot of everybody with the British Ambassador’s wife.
End of the Night
Signing out of the embassy late at night, we had just one order of business before heading back home: negotiating our final show for the tour, which, so far, had been planned but not agreed to by our host. Stopping by his palace, we agreed tot the details of the show and picked out the venue in his house. And believe me, its usually not easy picking a location for a comedy show, and this guys house several!
Who was this private show for? Well, it was a prince. I’ll keep you guys in suspense on the identity till my next post! Next post – LOL Comedy Tour goes Royal!
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