Lebanese actor and comedian Adel Karam has just become the first Arab to have their own comedy special on Netflix. He tells Vogue Man Arabia about the significant of that and what it means for Arabic entertainment.
What did it mean to you to become the first Arab comedian with a Netflix Original stand-up special?
This collaboration is a massive opportunity for me as an Arab actor and comedian. I am immensely proud to be the first to partner with an international platform such as Netflix and bring together the Arab and western worlds through comedy. Having said that, on a personal level reaching a bigger audience of viewers is really exciting.
Is comedy is the Middle East something that is under- represented by the media?
Not at all, it is very well represented, as it is an essential part of our society and culture. I have been doing comedy for more then a decade in Lebanon and the Middle East. My style of comedy is pretty much what we all would joke about among friends. However, it is important to mention that we are witnessing massive interest by the western world to access the Middle East, and it is natural that they would start with our comedy.
To what extent does having stand-up comedy from the Middle East, (broadcast globally on Netflix) help create a more positive perception of the region?
Comedy is a great talent, its light, puts smiles on people’s faces and unites us despite differences. It shows a different perspective of the region when it seems that all that is being shown lately is divisive and estranging. So comedy is a great approach to convey a positive image of the region.
How significant is it that the whole show is in Arabic (with subtitles) rather than in English as most other comedy from the region is broadcast?
It is great. Not only can it target the 300 million Arabs worldwide but also with subtitles it can be seen and understood by millions more western and European people who do not speak or read Arabic.
With this Netflix special, and The Insult being nominated for an Academy Award, is Lebanese entertainment starting to be embraced by the West and are we all becoming more globalized? Or is it just a happy coincidence?
I would say Middle Eastern entertainment is being embraced by the western world. While we have been enjoying western comedy and cinema for decades, today the reverse process is beginning. This show with Netflix is just the beginning. I am personally very excited about the Oscars nomination but much more happy to open the doors for others and breaking the boundaries between the Western and Arab worlds.
Adel Karam: Live from Beirut is now streaming on Netflix