Published — Wednesday 20 March 2013
Last update 1 April 2013 5:15 am
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.