Saudi authorities apologise for 'rude' stand-up comedian

Saudi authorities apologise for 'rude' stand-up comedian
2 min read
23 Jul, 2015
Blog: Officials in Saudi Arabia have said they are sorry for a comedian's act that called children "mangy dogs" during Riyadh's Eid festivities.
Stand-up comedy is slowly becoming part of mainstream Saudi culture [YouTube]
Riyadh city council has apologised for a stand-up's "inappropriate" act during the city's Eid al-Fitr celebrations on Saturday, after a video of the comedian being heckled by a member of the audience went viral on social media.

Authorities in the Saudi capital tweeted: "The Riyadh municipality confirms it does not accept the inappropriate actions that took place during the organised Eid events and we apologise to everyone.

"The terms of our contract stipulated the celebrations had to promote national values and entertainment according to ethical constraints," a second tweet added.

The controversial minute-long video shows amateur stand-up comedian Omar Salim on stage joking about his dislike of children: "There are three types of kids. Firstly, there are kids that are like dogs, mangy and filthy, then there are kids that are like the sons of dogs..."


The best sinners are the ones who repent

- Omar Salim

A man out of view of the camera then tells the comic to watch his language - because there are children in attendance, but Salim continues with his joke and then makes fun of the angry audience member.

After the video went viral on Saudi social media, Salim phoned into a local radio station to make an apology. "I've make a mistake, I would like to tell everyone the best sinners are the ones who repent," he said.

"I'm still new at stand-up comedy, I shouldn't have responded to the man and made fun of him, I regret I did that."

In conservative Saudi Arabia stand-up comedy has rapidly gone from being virtually nonexistent to a lucrative industry in the past few years - albeit without the profanity, obscenity or political satire western audiences are used to.

As Saudi-based stand-up Omar Ramzi told Vice, comedy in Saudi Arabia comes with the challenges one might expect in the kingdom.

"They have a lots of rules," he said. "You can't use profanity. You can't talk about the government. You can't talk about the royal family. You can't talk about religion."

Ramzi said, at the beginning of his career, he had to hold shows in remote areas away from cities - as the kingdom's notorious religious police could have arrested him and his audience at any moment for holding a mixed gender event.

It's a funny sort of place, really.