It’s 9 pm and rain doesn’t let up in Edinburgh, where Saif Abu-Kandil and Hashem El Garhy have just finished performing at the Fringe Festival. As they conclude their show “Falafel, Houmous and Baba Ganoush”, a Palestinian family approaches them, deeply moved.
They have watched, heard and laughed about an issue that touches them most intimately. They have been pushed, as well as the rest of the audience, to think. “They know that the issue at heart is a matter people would rather not focus on. But if a comedian can make you think about a horrible issue that we are turning our back on, there is hope for positive action,” says Saif “AK47”, Managing Director of Al Hezb El Comedy.
Composed of 20 Egyptian stand-up comedians, the troupe addresses stereotypes related to the Middle East and “tackles racism through reverse psychology”, as Hashem explains. On Tuesday, they participated in a comedy night to raise funds for Gaza organized by some of the UK’s most prestigious humorists. So the question came up: Can you raise awareness by making people laugh?
The two comedians do not hesitate: It’s one of the most powerful methods. “If you tie a message to comedy and people laugh, it means that they generally agree with what you have to say,” Hashem explains.