Laughter wins out on Riyadh’s ‘beautiful night for comedy’

The final night of the six-day Riyadh Comedy Nights festival was highlighted with a performance by US actor and comedian Eddie Griffin. (Photo/Supplied)
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Updated 16 December 2019

Laughter wins out on Riyadh’s ‘beautiful night for comedy’

  • Eddie Griffin says he had loved performing in the Kingdom

RIYADH: The Riyadh Comedy Nights festival ended amid laughter and a standing ovation as US actor and comedian Eddie Griffin signed off on his first visit to Saudi Arabia with a signature performance that took gentle aim at subjects ranging from the Kingdom’s wealth to recent social changes.

The final night of the six-day festival, held at the Bakir Al-Sheddi stage on Riyadh Boulevard on Saturday, featured local comedians, an improv group and a main performance by Griffin, who had the audience on its feet with his lighthearted observations on Saudi culture and life in the Kingdom.

Host Shakir Al-Shareef, best known for his special on Comedy Central, kicked off the show with a 15-minute warmup set during which he recalled his childhood in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s and showcased his signature self-deprecating humor.

“I look like Shaquille O’Neal, but I’m the size of his shoe,” he joked.
Al-Shareef was followed by, in his own words, “the rudest nice person I’ve ever met,” Saudi comedienne Lama Alfard. Alfard, the first Saudi female stand-up comic and a member of the Stand Up Comedy Tour, voiced her delight at performing in her hometown.

She poked fun at her social anxiety, struggles with weight loss and the way that Vision 2030 was making her parents “cooler.”
“My parents are actually proud now that I’m a comedian. When I enter the room, they say hi to me,” she joked.

HIGHLIGHT

The biggest laugh of the night came from a piece of dark humor, when the sound of fireworks on the boulevard appeared to startle Eddie Griffin.

She also delivered an hilarious impression of meeting her nutritionist, telling people she was going to give up trying to lose weight.

“I’m a comedian, the fatter the funnier. I’ll be fine,” she said to loud applause.

Following Alfard was the Improv Team from Dhahran, who engaged the audience in improv games before the main event.

Eddie Griffin arrived on stage to wild applause and his jokes, poking gentle fun at Saudi culture, soon had the audience laughing.

The US comic joked about the apparent wealth he had seen in the Kingdom, saying that “even the brokest Saudi got a Mercedes. Y’all got some money.”

I’m a comedian, the fatter the funnier. I’ll be fine.

Lama Alfard, Saudi comedienne

He also made lighthearted fun of recent changes in Saudi society, especially in the area of women’s rights. “It’s beautiful to see the ladies tonight ... and that’s all I’m gonna say,” he said amid laughter from the crowd.

However, the biggest laugh of the night came from a piece of dark humor, when the sound of fireworks on the boulevard appeared to startle him. Pretending to run away, Griffin said that the sound was giving him “flashbacks.” Backstage, the comedian told Arab News that he had loved performing in the Kingdom.

“I feel great about coming to Saudi Arabia. This was wonderful, a beautiful night for comedy, and I hope I can come back and do it all again,” he said.

Alfard told Arab News that she had been performing comedy since 2011 and was happy to finally be able to perform in her hometown.
“I felt alive, I was so happy to go back on stage. The audience was great, and I hope I can do more. I also hope I can encourage other girls to go onstage as well. I’m here if anyone needs help,” she said. Al-Shareef had a few words of advice for Saudis who wanted to follow him into comedy as well.
“Stop listening to your mother and follow your dreams,” he said.


DiplomaticQuarter: US ambassador lauds Saudi Arabia for successful Hajj season

Updated 47 min 26 sec ago

DiplomaticQuarter: US ambassador lauds Saudi Arabia for successful Hajj season

  • The envoy also praised Saudi hospitality during the Hajj season

RIYADH: US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid has lauded the Kingdom for its successful and safe organization of the curtailed Hajj pilgrimage amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The envoy also praised Saudi hospitality during the Hajj season and expressed his appreciation for the country’s generosity.

“On behalf of the US Mission to Saudi Arabia, I extend our best wishes to all Muslims in Saudi Arabia and around the world on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha,” Abizaid said in a statement.

He thanked the Saudi leadership for the care and services provided to the specially selected group of around 1,000 pilgrims of various nationalities allowed to perform Hajj.

“I would also like to express our deep appreciation to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten, and Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh for the government’s actions to protect the health of those participating in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage. 

“I also extend our gratitude to the people of Saudi Arabia for their kind hospitality, friendship, and generosity during Eid and throughout the eight decades of our two countries’ close partnership. May the prayers for peace of all people around the world be heard,” he added.

Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) also commended Saudi Arabia for its efforts in organizing Hajj.

WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the steps taken by the Kingdom to ensure the safety of pilgrims and said the preventive measures had set an example for other countries to follow in working toward lifting COVID-19 restrictions.