Fageeh stands up to tickle your funny bone

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Updated 01 April 2013
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Fageeh stands up to tickle your funny bone

Hisham Fageeh, the 25-year-old Saudi comedian has been receiving much acclaim from the YouTube channel that he had originally initiated to communicate with his sister and put a smile on her face.
Later, he expanded his viewership to span the entire Saudi community by turning his initiative into a comedy and entertainment channel.
Fageeh is undertaking a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies, while also contributing articles on political theory in a college in New York city; the setting for his vlogs.
“I think politics is the worst element in my field of study, but I am interested and fascinated by social politics. I decided to be an academic because I believe it is the only true course to control knowledge and change mindsets,” he said, adding, “I am currently writing about the elements of humor in politics and how they play a role in shaping perspectives and identities.”
The idea of working in an office scares Fageeh, however for now he doesn’t want to ponder about the future. Instead, he wants to focus on the present and aspires to discover the world, even if it means backpacking.
“Even though I have been living in the US for some time, there is still much I want to discover. I’m very interested in comedy, different cultures, acting and performing. I’m trying to consume and absorb as much as I can from NYC; I feel I have the freedom to create and contribute as a standup comedian in this city,” he said.
“In addition to school work, I’m also taking classes in an institute to learn improvizational and musical comedy as well as acting. These are my latest obsessions,” he added.
Fageeh is not 100 percent convinced he is funny, even though he has 25,719 subscribers and 7,2456,667 views on his YouTube channel. “I never walked into a room thinking I am funny; when people first meet me they are always surprised that I’m calm and quiet in person,” he explained. “I like to observe, which is the reason why I’m interested in characters and I like capturing and giving attention to the slightest details, like how a person twitches his eyes, moves his mouth and what he does with his fingers. These particulars fascinate me greatly.”
The young comedian began his path with an audition for a standup show during the summer of 2011 at the Arab American Comedy Festival.
“There was an audition for the new faces segment of the festival so I recorded an audition tape in my garage and before I knew it they got in touch with me for another audition. Yet to my disappointment I was not selected. The audition experience however spurred the nerd within me to study standup comedians, so I started attending open-mic events every night for four months. Occasionally I would get on stage and do a joke and then I finally got my first real break-through and people enjoyed my performance.”
Fageeh’s first online experience was with a YouTube channel he created called Hisham Comedy, which was based on an inside joke between him and his sister.
“My sister and I often talk to each other impersonating characters and this is the reason why in all my videos I address a female. It was all a coincidence; I was supposed to post a video on my Facebook account but I encountered some difficulties uploading the video, so I posted it on YouTube instead. I enjoyed it and found myself uploading more videos. At first I received 20 views, then gradually 60 and the number began to increase by the day. It was all so exciting, especially since the people who liked my videos were anonymous. One night I put up a video and went to sleep only to wake up to 30,000 views and messages in my inbox. It was incredible!”
The ideas behind the videos are not cohesive because they represent Fageeh’s daily encounters and different inspiring moments.
“The script is 100 percent fictional, however it is inspired from things around me. It can be something as simple as a phrase that struck a cord or an impersonation of different characters that I’ve come across in life and then I mix these elements with a storyline. I’m not like the other famous comedians on YouTube, who represent and relate true incidents from our community. I enact a completely fictional character based on imaginary stories.”
As Fageeh rose to fame many other Saudi comedians began approaching him, asking him to contribute to their online shows.
“I’m particularly proud of a segment I did for ‘La Yekthar’ show by Fahad Al-Butairi, in which I walk up to random people in NYC and talk to them in a humorous way,” he said.
“I told the people beforehand that they would be appearing in a comical video, so I got their consent before I started.”
Fageeh also stars in another YouTube comedy show called ‘Zizo and Fiss’, which is a short series about twin brothers oppressed by their overprotective mother and driven to lose all sense of reality.
“Fiss, is the naughty and mischievous twin and is played by Turki Sheikh, while I act the role of Zizo the naïve and innocent brother. The funny events unfold as Fiss pretends to be a girl on an on-line chat forum, deceiving boys into believing he is a girl. However, ironically Zizo falls victim to his brother’s prank.”
Currently, the talented young man is writing a short film, which he plans to promote in film festivals. He will also keep performing in standup comedy shows in NYC and in the GCC. Fageeh aspires to make comedy his full-time profession.

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Tens of thousands converge on California ‘poppy apocalypse’

A woman poses for a photo among poppies in bloom on the hills of Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, California, on March 8, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Tens of thousands converge on California ‘poppy apocalypse’

  • More than 6,000 people on a recent Saturday stopped at the visitor’s center at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

LAKE ELSINORE, California: Like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” the Southern California city of Lake Elsinore is being overwhelmed by the power of the poppies.
About 150,000 people over the weekend flocked to see this year’s rain-fed flaming orange patches of poppies lighting up the hillsides near the city of about 60,000 residents, about a 90-minute drive from either San Diego or Los Angeles.
Interstate 15 was a parking lot. People fainted in the heat; a dog romping through the fields was bitten by a rattlesnake.
A vibrant field of poppies lures Dorothy into a trap in the “Wizard of Oz” when the wicked witch, acknowledging that no one can resist their beauty, poisons the wildflowers and she slips into a fatal slumber until the good witch reverses the spell.
Lake Elsinore had tried to prepare for the crush of people drawn by the super bloom, a rare occurrence that usually happens about once a decade because it requires a wet winter and warm temperatures that stay above freezing.
It offered a free shuttle service to the top viewing spots, but it wasn’t enough.
Sunday traffic got so bad that Lake Elsinore officials requested law enforcement assistance from neighboring jurisdictions. At one point, the city pulled down the curtain and closed access to poppy-blanketed Walker Canyon.
“It was insane, absolutely insane,” said Mayor Steve Manos, who described it as a “poppy apocalypse.”
By Monday the #poppyshutdown announced by the city on Twitter was over and the road to the canyon was re-opened.
And people were streaming in again.
Young and old visitors to the Lake Elsinore area seemed equally enchanted as they snapped selfies against the natural carpet of iridescent orange.
Some contacted friends and family on video calls so they could share the beauty in real time. Artists propped canvasses on the side of the trail to paint the super bloom, while drones buzzed overhead.
Patty Bishop, 48, of nearby Lake Forest, was on her second visit. The native Californian had never seen such an explosion of color from the state flower. She battled traffic Sunday but that didn’t deter her from going back Monday for another look. She got there at sunrise and stayed for hours.
“There’s been so many in just one area,” she said. “I think that’s probably the main reason why I’m out here personally is because it’s so beautiful.”
Stephen Kim and his girlfriend got to Lake Elsinore even before sunrise Sunday to beat the crowds but there were already hundreds of people.
The two wedding photographers hiked on the designated trails with an engaged couple to do a photo shoot with the flowers in the background, but they were upset to see so many people going off-trail and so much garbage. They picked up as many discarded water bottles as they could carry.
“You see this beautiful pristine photo of nature but then you look to the left and there’s plastic Starbucks cups and water bottles on the trail and selfie sticks and people having road rage because some people were walking slower,” said Kim, 24, of Carlsbad.
Andy Macuga, honorary mayor of the desert town of Borrego Springs, another wildflower hotspot, said he feels for Lake Elsinore.
In 2017, a rain-fed super bloom brought in more than a half-million visitors to the town of 3,500. Restaurants ran out of food. Gas stations ran out of fuel. Traffic backed up on a single road for 20 miles (32 kilometers).
The city is again experiencing a super bloom.
The crowds are back. Hotels are full. More than 6,000 people on a recent Saturday stopped at the visitor’s center at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest park with 1,000 square miles (2,590 sq. kilometers).
But it helps that the masses of blooms are appearing in several different areas this time, and some sections are fading, while others are lighting up with flowers, helping to disperse the crowds a bit.
Most importantly, Macuga said, the town’s businesses prepared this time as if a major storm was about to hit. His restaurant, Carlee’s, is averaging more than 550 meals a day, compared to 300 on a normal March day.
“We were completely caught off guard in 2017 because it was the first time that we had had a flower season like this with social media,” he said. “It helps now knowing what’s coming.”