RIYADH: Six of the best Saudi comedians have had audiences rolling in the aisles for a second year at the Riyadh Season festival of entertainment.
Brought together by the Saudi House of Comedy, the comics have been taking to the stage at Boulevard Riyadh City as part of the popular annual event.
Fayez Al-Shamrani, one of the performers, told Arab News: “Riyadh Season is an important initiative to be part of, and the attendance in Riyadh was amazing. I would hope to perform there again.”
The pioneering House of Comedy for standup comedians was opened in the Eastern Province in 2017 by Ibrahim Al-Hajjaj and Talal Al-Anazi.
Co-founder and comic, Al-Hajjaj, told Arab News that making people laugh was addictive. “It is a lovely feeling when you’re doing standup, and you make people laugh, it is a different kind of heart buzz, it tickles your little heart vessels.”
In 2018, the General Entertainment Authority sponsored the comedy club, and since then, it has performed at least 56 shows, including standups and plays throughout the Kingdom.
Veteran entertainer Al-Hajjaj has witnessed firsthand the rapid developments that have taken place in the sector in the Kingdom over recent years.
“I think it’s wonderful. Thankfully our government is supporting us 100 percent and anything we need we can ask for. The General Entertainment Authority, Ministry of Culture, and everybody is helping us, and I feel that Saudi artists need nothing,” he said.
Al-Hajjaj was joined by fellow comics Al-Shamrani, Hashem Al-Hawsawi, Mohammed Hilal, Nawaf Al-Shubaily, and Khaled Omar at the Mohammed Al-Ali Theater in Boulevard Riyadh City, one of Riyadh Season’s 14 zones.
They performed game shows with scenes consisting of six comedy segments based on improvisation between two teams representing several scenarios chosen by the audience.
The funnymen have previously performed their standup routines on the MSC Bellissima cruise ship.
Al-Shamrani, known by his stage name Goge, said: “I am very thankful to have been a part of the House of Comedy. We have had wonderful experiences together.”
And Al-Hajjaj pointed out that the use of comedy could often help resolve many issues in life. “I think just smiling before your problems will eventually make it less harmful to your body, into your mind, and soul.”
The comedians, from different regions of the Kingdom, all perform their shows in Arabic to help connect with audiences.
“I perform local comedy, I do all of my shows in Arabic, and I always encourage my fellow comedians to do their jokes in Arabic.
“I think humor comes from blood, and it’s from your environment, where you were raised, where you went to school. I think comedy comes from blood, and if your blood is Arabic, your jokes are always going to be in Arabic,” Al-Hajjaj added.
And he urged young Saudis to explore careers in the entertainment industry.
“I think any talented person that is just sitting at home will always be a talented person just sitting at home. The Ministry of Culture is always giving courses. The General Entertainment Authority is always giving opportunities for people to pursue their talents,” he said.
With the current support and resources provided to the entertainment sector in the country, Al-Hajjaj reckoned it could only continue to flourish.
“I think in the next five years, we will be experiencing a blast of comedians, a blast of new young talents and new young actors and actresses,” he added.