Jerry Seinfeld once said on his talk show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee that “comedy is more personal than food”.
For many Arabs, seeing their personal brand of humour portrayed in the media, in a contemporary way, dealing with many themes of life in the Middle East or in the diaspora, was fairly nonexistent until recently.
This is slowly changing with the rise of comedians in stand-up circuits in America such as Nataly Aukar and Dina Hashem, or to a more international level with comics Ramy Youssef and Mo Amer through their respective self-titled shows.
However, there is also a plethora of young Arab comedians on social media, gaining followers and attention in the region and further afield thanks to their comedic stylings.
Here are just a few that explore Arabness in its many forms, from the cliche to niche, all while making us laugh.
Arab-American comedian Nasser Al-Rayess, who has dubbed himself the Shawarma King, has gained a following of more than 44,000 on Instagram for his honest commentary on pop culture and news along with observational humour on identity and skits based on popular Arab music.
Relatable, wholesome and entertaining, Maya Hussein has gone viral and gained one million followers on TikTok for her short videos depicting scenarios featuring Arab parents and their children — all of which are played by her.
The Lebanese-Canadian has created a larger-than-life Arab mum character filled with all the immigrant mother tropes. It plays into stereotypes, but it's also relatable and funny.
Through simple, well filmed and clever videos, Feed Mureed makes us cackle without using much dialogue. Instead, he focuses on well-paced build-ups and strong punchlines in his situational comedy videos.
Mostly in Arabic, Mureed’s videos touch on themes of married life and the everyday.
While at times controversial for his impressions, that to some highlight stereotypes of particular cultures, there is no denying that Shawn Chidiac, known as myparents_are_divorced on Instagram, is a chameleon of characters. His range of characters shows off his real talent of being able to imitate almost any accent from the region.
From the Persian personal trainer to the Egyptian motivational speaker, Chidiac’s short skits based around giving advice or doing something as banal as grocery shopping are bound to make you laugh.
Coffee Break LB
Coffee Break LB, made up of the comedic duo Nadyn Chalhoub and Nathalie Masri, offers a satirical take on life in Lebanon from the perspective of two friends.
Often facing the camera, their skits range from writing the lyrics to a new national anthem that reflects the current state of their country, to conversations on robbing banks and writing emails to media outlets about their political coverage. Their witty, organic conversations are also funny and ironic.
Iraqi comedian Abdallah Jasim is especially gifted at imitating different Arabic accents, but has perfected taking mainstream topics, from films to celebrities, and giving them his own hilarious Arab spin.
It’s not difficult to see why Egyptian Hadeel Marei is one of the most-followed comedians across YouTube and Instagram, with more than one million subscribers on each platform and on TikTok with more than three million followers and 45.1 million likes.
It’s very simple: she is incredibly funny. Her videos are mostly in Egyptian Arabic, but Marei’s comedy, while not character-driven, is diverse and creative. She takes everyday issues such as your laptop never being able to connect to a printer or a visit to a therapist and adds her own twist, be it blunt, bizarre or unexpected.
One of the most popular young Arab comedians on social media, Syrian Mohanad AlHattab delights and entertains with his range of recurring characters from the Arab world and his recreations of funny, viral moments from Arabic pop culture.
His characters include a conservative Khaleeji woman, an Egyptian personal trainer or Sameeha the Egyptian influencer.
AlHattab’s comedic talents have gained him more than 700,000 followers on Instagram and over 10 million likes on TikTok.
One of the most consistently entertaining online comediennes is Blogger Wana Be, whose name might be Sarah Grey, or that might be a persona she’s created to take dry wit to another level.
Exploring themes around dating, Arab parents and contemporary millennial life, Blogger Wana Be’s brand of sarcastic wit and delivery is authentic and entertaining. Her spoof of the Netflix original reality show Dubai Bling is particularly funny.
Egyptian-American comedienne and video content creator Mai has become incredibly popular online for having conversations with her mother and creating videos of them. Whether commenting on the generational and cultural gap between them, seeking marriage advice or simply pranking her mother, Mai’s content is wholesome, fun and funny.