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TEDxDubai - Jamil Abu Wardeh - 10/10/09

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what we are going to be talking about now is how do you create change through comedy. And joining us is our Tedx Speaker Jamal Abu Wardeh.(applause) Ok, I am told we are here to deliver Tedlike experience and this is more like the real thing to me. So, thank you everyone here. Applause I am gonna try to deliver a funny like experience I am not a stand-up comic, i work with stand up comic Now, my talk is about arabic stand up comedy or stand up comedy bel 3araby The importance of this, is that we should start to take our responsibilities seriously not ourselves. With arabic stand up comedy we can create an image of ourselves if we are able to laugh at ourselves, then maybe other people will share these experiences with us. This part of my journey began around two years ago. I produced the first standup comedy tour in the Arab region. there were 3 comedians working in the stage on the college circuit An Iranian, an egyptian and a palestinian And they were working to change stereotype of Arabs and Muslims in post 9/11 George Bush Administration, America Not an easy task Now luckily enough we were able to bring this over to the Middle East And something magical happens when you are onto something big It is as if by divine intervention people and circumstances come together to make that change happen. It is not that it is easy to create a comedy revolution. I am not sure that the words like divine intervention and revolution are great in the context of Arab changing their stereotypes (laugh) But what some can say that the west, they have phrases in the stand-up comedy world like when somebody makes all the audience laugh they say "that person killed" And when they say that person didn't do very well and people didn't laugh, they say that person "bombed" (laugh) now.. I can just imagine when this Arab stand up scene gets bigger and takes off and the International headlines start taking shape (laugh) Fox news is going to have a field day really (laughter) speaking of stereotyping without addressing the facts this isn't the reserve for networks in the United States for news This actually happens here as well We make judgments about each other without having the facts fully available I experienced this when we were starting to present the idea of this talk Generally i found this idea of people fell into two different categories- or cant They were either people, like a joke, they either got it, or they didn't and usually people who didn't get this, where people who havent heard it but they formed their opinion about the comedy from other people's.. ummm.. stories now, this happened first hand to me here is a real story when i was preparing for this tour in the television network that i work in there was an Arab who was in charge of sponsorship and in one of the meetings with all group of people in the room he says: "ahh look look look .. really I think this is foolishness, i cannot support this kind of thing really You want me to go to my clients and tell them to support guys who aremaking fun of Islam & Arabs are you crazy You think they want their brand associated with this type of thing Man, in Lebanon when you guys go there, i PROMISE you they will bomb the theatre (laughter) what he didn't realize is that we were intending to the comedians to kill (laughter + applaud) and now, i asked him if he had seen or heard any of the comedy and surprise surprise he said "tsk tsk tsk, this is not my type of thing, my friend he told me but i am not interested" (laughter) surprise surprise And this is a true story So, we did get the store of the ground We had incredibly positive people, great believers in the cause And in these phrases i am not getting any friendlier, but what we managed to do is after announcing this tour with just a few dates Within a one month we had 27 sold out shows, 17 & ½ thousand people bought tickets to five countries in the middle east. People queued around the block and couldn't get enough Our second show had the King of Jordon attend which is a great endorsment We had press from around the world write about it and show it on their screens the BBC, CNN, Time magazine wrote about these comedians. We were headline news as far as Korea Yes Korea, and this presents another twist, an interesting one in the reality that we have when we are onto something big. While preparing for the tour, i was in a store: a shoe store and i saw a small Korean guy making his Arab friends laugh out loud. He was actually talking to them in Arabic and he was the funniest guy in the group This was fascinating to me, i was able to have a conversation with him. his name was Whan Ho Chang, His name still is Whan Ho Chang acutally (laughter) I convinced him to leave his job and join us on the tour. and what i found fascinating, people have found amazing ever since the past two years He gets up on stage and people find it fabulous that he can speak arabic just like you and me better and what his fans have done in the past 3, 4 months, one of his fans uploaded one of his links to one of his shows onto youtube and he has had over a million views from just one link Now that is fantastic It goes to address the point that Mohammed Gawdat at the beginning and that is we have new mediums and people can vote with that clicks Now what is fascinating is that if you go to the stats page, and this is something you can check yourselves There is one country that has most of the views, Now it is not Korea, because it is in Arabic. That country is Saudi Arabia As far as i am concerned you can put that in your stereotype shisha and smoke it if you don't know what i am talking about, Ok? (applause) People want this type of thing in the Middle East Now what i have told Whan Ho to do is to read a book by Malcolm Gladwell to explain this sudden rise it is only the past three or four months, the book called: Tipping Point. And i was watching Malcolm Gladwell on talking about spaghetti sauce of all things Please notice how i smoothly transition to my next point while giving homage to TED at the same time. (laughter) He makes a point that i think is very relevant to what i am talking about today He says that people, don't realize what they want. They don't realize what they want until after you show them choices they didn't know they have. Only then do they realize that they like something new and they have a new interest. And this Arabic stand up comedy that i am talking about is exactly the point. So many people come to me after a show and say: "man, this is amazing, it is like he says what i am thinking, but he is funny" (laughter) This happens again and again. Ok? So what i want to do is ask people to try it for themselves, share the experience what we need is more stories on a human level Change your stereotypes between yourselves Now what we did with this tour, we televised it, six part series that we add. I called it 3 guys and one ho (laughter) It is his name And what happened after this is that we saw and explosion in a (laughter) The types of events (laughter) That we have in the middle east Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman aaah Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon All these countries people are doing their own events Now most of these people are starting the the, people going on stage are Arabs performing in English Some of them are Arabs performing in Arabic Now it is important to me to tell you that you might think it is difficult for umm in this region for people to get up and talk about umm funny experiences because of some limitations Now what i do when i have comedians coming up on stages is that i have to remind them for me, i call them the 3Bs of standup don'ts Things not to talk about Don't be blue, don't use umm dirty language, foul language and try to avoid the sexual matters Beliefs: avoid making fun of your beliefs or others have respect The third one is very important in the Middle East as well is "Bullatics" (laughter) Please stay away from Bullatics this is something you shouldn't (laughter) address You might think to yourself so what's left? (laughter) How can i be funny if i can't make fun of those things i'll tell you one word: Seinfeld Seinfeld is the most popular tv sitcoms of all time as voted for by viewers admittedly it is in English and it is voted for in the west but it is a show about nothing, nothing and everything Everything that surrounds us everyday is funny. Your family, your friends, your work your colleague things you see in the street There is comedy everywhere So, you don't have to restrict yourselves you can joke about things that are around you And you create a more human image of yourselves Again, between each other first lets not worry about other people worry about ourselves Now, Stand up comedy is not new in the middle east I am not saying that we started this. I am saying that we are rebuilding something that i think has had a dip in the past few years In the 70s and 80s i grew up in this region watching comic icons: The egyptian Aadel Imam They Syrian Doraid Lahaam, the Kuwaiti Abdul Hussain Abdul Redha Till this day they have monumental place in which they delivered monologue off-script this was standup back then People now use these lines that they had in their everyday conversation and they are still airing that stuff on the TV network to great success in the middle east What i am saying is that we need to revive this in a much cheaper way You just need one guy and a microphone and a stage, or a girl And we will have more content, now we had people talk about content that can be spread out in such a huge audience across the world People can work as they do on and you can actually get it subtitled What you eventually get is more and more people understanding what other points of view are So, before i pin up what i want to advice everybody here first of all, share your stories Try to create the stages where people can get up and say this type of things What i am about is getting people to laugh at themselves first You don't need to take yourselves seriously, you can take your responsibilities seriously and i will end with one quote that i think ties all of this together TED being in Dubai, and the start of this stand up comedy reveloution in Araabic And that is "The road to success is always under construction" thank you very much (applause)

Video Details

Duration: 12 minutes and 30 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: Giorgio Ungania
Director: Giorgio Ungania
Views: 241
Posted by: giorgiotedx on Jan 11, 2010

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations) Our event is call TEDxDubai, where x=independently organized TED event

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