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Hatoon Kadi: The Saudi female face of comedy

Saudi Ph.D. student Hatoon Kadi is the host of a comedy YouTube show entitled Noon Alniswa. This series of videos present social phenomena from a female perspective in a sarcastic way without judgment and without attempting to find solutions. Kadi’s main goal is to make viewers laugh at her jokes.
Arab News had a chat with Kadi about her YouTube experience, the reaction from her viewers and how she balances her studies and her comedy life.

Arab News: How did you come up with the idea for the show?
Hatoon Kadi: “It all started when I established my online blog. I used to write about social phenomena as I experience them as a mother. I ended up having short stories with characters and those characters encounter different funny situations. I wrote about “Kwalana” which comes from the English word “cool.” It happens when people attempt to impress society and express wealth even when they’re not very affluent. I also used to write about the struggle that women encounter in getting transportation. My blog was very well read and I used to receive lots of positive comments. I then decided to start a YouTube show. As you may know, YouTube shows in Saudi Arabia are trending and there are very well established shows. I have always had a thing for acting and performing, so I took the chance.”

AN: How was the feedback from your audience?
HK: “The first video went viral and received very positive feedbacks, and based on that I decided to go on.”

AN: What inspires you for a new episode?
HK: “Well, I am still using material I wrote about previously in my blog posts. Usually what initiates a subject and makes me wants to write is things I see around me. For example I once met a very irritating girl who thought she was the center of the universe. She seemed disgusted with everything in society, and she inspired me to start the character Fafa in my blog.”

AN: Is there a message behind the show?
HK: “I cannot say that I have a message or big aims behind the show. I usually write down an aim and vision for each episode but I don’t expect that my aim will reach everyone. It is mainly important for me to keep me focused on writing. I would say that if the topics of my episodes are would be issues to be discussed in society then the episodes would be making a difference even if that was on a very small and intangible scale.”

AN: Do you think acting can be part of your future plans?
HK: “I don’t think I have time for acting even though I love it.”

AN: Tell us about a funny story that happened to you while shooting one of your episodes?
HK: “When we were shooting the Drivers episode, we had to do an external shooting in my car. My driver did not know what was going on and he started staring at me in a very puzzled way. The crew was laughing. It was ironic because I could not tell him we were doing a show about him as a driver, but we managed to shoot it at the end.”

AN: What episode did you like the most?
HK: “I always say that all my episodes are like my daughters and I don’t favor one them over any other. I do however have a soft spot for the episode entitled Aljalta Al-ejtima3eyyah (Social Stroke), which was about different women characters that might cause us strokes when we deal with them. In terms of views it was not the most successful one but I loved it.”

AN: In your show you kept mentioning the “cool young women.” Who are those in your opinion?
HK: “In my first episode, I defined Kawalana as anything that can evoke a reaction of ‘OHH MYYY GOOOD that’s cooool.’ It could be a new designer bag or a new pair of shoes. I mostly criticize the fact that not all people in society are wealthy yet they try to express their fake wealth by struggling to get designer bags and clothes from high-end brands. These people actually belong to the middle class. They can shop and have fun in high street shops, but instead they choose to pretend they are from a social class that they don’t belong to. This causes lots of pressure on families.”

AN: You are a Ph.D. student. How do you divide your time between your studies and your show?
HK: “I do my show during vacation times. I usually come to Jeddah in school holidays and I finalize the scripts. We shoot several episodes and release one episode per month. This way I have time for both.”

AN: Have you considered turning your short stories in your blog into a book?
HK: “This idea is always crossing my mind, so yes I might one day.”

AN: Over all, how would you describe your experience in front of the camera?
HK: “Shooting episodes is my favorite part after writing, I really enjoy acting and I don’t have any problem with the camera.”

AN: What do you know now that you wished you knew when you first started your YouTube show?
HK: “I wished I had been more prepared to face the insults that appear in the YouTube comments boxes. I thought I was immune to those, but I wasn’t at the beginning.”

AN: What advice do you give to young women who want to start their own YouTube show?
HK: “Have an original idea, uniqueness and confidence, confidence, confidence. You should have zero doubts about your ability to deliver your content. When you do, you’ll be fine.”

AN: What is new for you and for your show?
HK: “We are still releasing episodes that I have already shot on my last vacation. We will have a new season but the ideas are not yet fully formulated.”

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