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How a Saudi TV sketch mocking Biden went viral on US networks

The clip, produced by MBC, went viral on social media last week for poking fun at Biden and his Vice President Kamala Harris. (Screenshot)
The clip, produced by MBC, went viral on social media last week for poking fun at Biden and his Vice President Kamala Harris. (Screenshot)
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19 Apr 2022 10:04:32 GMT9
19 Apr 2022 10:04:32 GMT9
  • American media over-analyzed the clip, brushing over fact the show previously mocked Obama, Trump and others 
  • Former Saudi ambassador to US, Prince Turki Al Faisal, said that US media should have “thicker skin”

Arab News

LONDON: A viral sketch mocking US President Joe Biden’s sleepy speeches and gaffes has pushed US pundits to take it as a sign of poor relations with Saudi Arabia. 

However, contrary to what many have said, most of the analysis failed to see that almost all US presidents, as well as many other international politicians, have been mocked on Saudi TV before.

“Don’t take it seriously or personally … All western presidents have been imitated on Saudi TV,” Mohamed Albishi, editor in chief of Bloomberg Asharq, tweeted.

The Saudi show mocking UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former US President Barack Obama

The clip, produced by MBC’s Ramadan sketch show “Studio 22,” went viral on social media last week for poking fun at Biden and his Vice President Kamala Harris.

In the clip, Biden is portrayed as elderly and incapable, falling asleep mid-sentence, while his vice president, played by a male actor in drag, can be seen telling the president what to say and correcting his mistakes. 

The sketch show has mocked several US and other Western presidents in the past, including former US President Barack Obama and his successor Donald Trump.

Various US outlets, including Fox News, the New York Post and Business Insider have interpreted this latest sketch as a message from Saudi Arabia, citing the clip as “pretty embarrassing and pretty humiliating for our country.”

Fox News went even further to determine that the Kingdom, a longtime ally of the US, was “a little (too) busy producing TV skits” to answer the phone when President Biden called to ask the Kingdom for more oil production.

“The world’s gas station thinks our president is a laughing stock, it’s not good for business,” said Jesse Watters, an American conservative political commentator on Fox News. “So much for America being back.”

The incident in question referred to when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was recently unable to take a call when Biden phoned, instead opting to postpone

The New York Post analyzed the sketch as a sign of Riyadh’s cold view of the Biden administration. Business Insider stated that the clip is notable given that relations between Saudi Arabia and the US are “at rock bottom.”

Many world leaders were previously featured and mocked on “Studio 22,” discrediting the theory that the sketch was solely produced in reaction to US-Saudi Arabia relations. 

The show recently poked fun at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson alongside US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, in a skit where the pair argue over who will get to take in a female Ukrainian refugee standing between them.

They threaten each other and eventually try to pull the woman by a ribbon around her neck.

She stops them and introduces them to her husband and son, at which point Johnson and Austin lose their interest and squabble over who should not take her in, ending with Austin dragging Johnson off stage after he runs back on to lick his hand and pat down his hair in front of her.

The Saudi show mocking fomer US President Donald Trump.

Responding to the hysteria, Former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to US and UK Prince Turki Al-Faisal wrote in an Arab News column: “I am amused by the brouhaha in the US media about a Saudi TV comedy sketch that took the mickey out of President Joe Biden.

“Commentators and pundits have taken umbrage, saying it was insulting, that it showed the Kingdom was not a friend of the US — that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was getting back at Biden for the president’s refusal to meet him, and his release of the CIA document about the Khashoggi killing, that it was an insult to the American people, and so on; truly an amazing reaction.”

Prince Turki’s article went viral in Arabic, as he concluded with a strong statement. “I say to American media and other so-called experts: Laugh at the humor. For so long, we have withstood jibes at us from American media and politicians; it is only fair that you withstand our comedic jibes at you. Let us laugh together, not scowl at each other.”

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