This is Part III of my ongoing posts on the LOL comedy tour which I was asked to cover as photographer by Peter of Smile Productions. Start with the introductions here!
As has happened to me so many times before, I drift into consciousness with no idea where the hell I am. They say traveling makes you wiser, but its also very disorienting. An alarm blaring somewhere in the room. Mmmmm, something felt really good – waaait a minute… I woke up with a start. Water sloshing over the side of the jacuzzi, jets of bubbles still running.
Holy crap, how long have I been in here? omg WRINKLY SKIN… How long HAVE I been in here? I staggered over to pick up my phone. The planner read: Flight to Riyadh, 2hrs. 0_0 I need to change, grab my camera batteries, omg WRINKLY SKIIIN!
The remainder of the morning was a blur. Running down to the lobby with Ahmed, Maz and Peter. Picking up Taylor from the Sheraton. And making it to the counter just barely before the closed them for that arbitrary 45min deadline for check ins. I was on a seperate flight from the rest of the crew so I took off earlier. Being terrified of flying, I didn’t get much shut eye there as well.
Coming into Riyadh felt very strange. Could’ve been the fact that I had just arrived in one of the most conservative cities in the world to have fun. Could also have been the fact that the roads were lined with alternating US and Saudi flags because for the Obama visit. Something just felt very surreal about the experience. I was much too tired to dwell on it though as I took a taxi over to the Sheraton, which would be home for the next 4 days. I checked in, got into my room and passed out.
I was debating whether or not to put this up. It’s too funny not to. After I hit the sack at the hotel, some wise guy in administration decided that 2 hours after checking in would be a good time to send up housekeeping to clean up the room. God knows, I can get messy.
Being tired as I was, I had forgotten to put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door. I had also been too tired to change into my shorts before sleeping. It was just me, a pillow wearing my boxers…… and soon enough a Filipino. You see, housekeeping knocked, but I was asleep. The guy unlocks the door and walks in.. to find a half naked dude in bed. Sensing an intruder in the room I sit up to find a Filipino guy staring at me.
I freaked out. Believe me, last thing you want to wake up to is a Filipino dude staring at you… we’ve all heard the rumors, and at this point I was wondering if they were true. Our eyes met, and there was a mutual understanding: We never speak of this again. Not a word said, he walks out of the room.
Next time I would see him in the lobby, he nodded at me. I nodded back. No more eye contact for the next 4 days. Most awkward Sheraton stay ever!
The public show, the first of four shows in Riyadh, was to take place in Al-Wadi compound, a private residential complex on the edge of Riyadh. Most of these private events take place in compounds such as these, out of the prying eyes of the authorities. While there was nothing unique about the venue, our method of transportation definitely turned some heads! We were escorted to the compound by our very own motorcade of Harley Davidsons! I’ll let the pictures do the talking!
Did you know you could fit over 1000 people on a tennis court? Neither did I. And WHAT a sight it was. Tonight’s show had been sold out. And from the looks of it, several dozen people may have sneaked in as well! There were well over the thousand in the audience we expected. No matter, the more the merrier!
The comedians made their way to the green room where dinner was brought in. A hungry man is not a funny man apparently. The rest of the comedians for the show were already there.
Close to 7:30, we went down to the court to make sure the lighting situation was in order. Fred and James, the camera crew from Aramco which would be providing the live feeds were already set up on platforms at the back. I got on top of one of them as well to get an amazing view of the stage. Taylor and Todd would be roaming around with their cameras as well to get some interviews done for Ahmed Ahmed’s documentary.
Everything was a LOT more organized this time round than in Jeddah. Mostly because we were using Peter’s own crew for the set-up, however we did start a little later than expected. Arab Standard Time, as we all say ;P The format of the show was similar to Jeddah. Ahmed Ahmed would come on with 15 minutes after which he would introduce the local comedians one by one. Each one had 7-10min on stage with ahmed getting 5min in between each act. After a break, Ahmed would come on again to introduce Maz who would bring the evening to an end after 30 minutes of comedy.
The show came to an end sometime after midnight, followed by an extra long session of photos and autographs with the comics.
My mind sort of blanks out at this point. I’d been awake too long for me to remember what happened afterwards. All I know is that at some point, I ended up safely asleep at the Sheraton. And Abdullah Alshihri, Peter’s main man in Riyadh, had something to do with it (thanks dude!)
Camera batteries recharging. Getting ready for the third day of the LOL Comedy Tour!
Up Next – The LOL Tour continues! Second Public Show in Riyadh!
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