Ramez Galal's name has become synonymous with pranks. The Egyptian comic has hosted a prank show every Ramadan for the past seven years.
He’s made life flash before his celebrity guests’ eyes by having them think they were kidnapped by extremists, or were stranded in shark-infested waters. He’s put Shah Rukh Khan in quicksand and has attacked Egyptian dancer Fifi Abdou while dressed as a gorilla.
In 2015, Galal even took US socialite Paris Hilton in a terror-filled flight over Dubai, making her think that the plane was about to crash.
The show is almost the region's version of Ashton Kutcher's Punk'd, only Galal comes out to say "Gotcha" when the damage has been done.
The show has never shied away from controversy. Every year, viewers ask whether Galal has gone too far, and every year he ups the ante, as if to tell his critics that he cannot – or won’t – be stopped, that his viewers are too loyal and that there is a demand for what he offers.
This year, the comic, whose show is named after him under a different theme each year, has returned with Ramez Majnun Rasmi. The title translates to, "Ramez is officially crazy," as if to boast that he has gone mad. The promo posters show him in the garbs of the Joker, Freddy Krueger and Dracula.
In the first episode of his show, which debuted over the weekend, he appeared with blue-dyed hair and weathered grey overalls, looking like the maniacal alter-ego of celebrity Fortnite player, Ninja.
The format of the show involves guests being strapped into a "confession chair" and being asked a series of questions as they are subjected to humiliating instances that border on torture.
The question is: has Ramez Galal crossed a line?
Galal's past of pranks
When you look back at the previous years of the show, you would have thought that viewers would question what they would do if they were ever kidnapped or on a plane in distress. Regardless of how cruel it is to think that these situations are orchestrated for the pleasure of others, some viewers want to watch celebrities in a position of weakness, to see how they'd react – a way of shattering the well-manicured, meticulously-composed persona of famous people, perhaps?
Maybe Galal is an iconoclast, who wants to show viewers that behind the make-up and composed exterior, celebrities have fears and anxieties too.
But the latest show is not the case, and if anything, proves that it never really was.
His first victim on the new season is Egyptian actress Ghada Adel, who appears to believe she is on a tell-all reality show.
Viewers watch Adel as she prepares backstage, walks onto the set and agrees to be strapped to the confession chair, which she is told will determine whether she is telling the truth or not.
The scenes are punctuated with Galal's commentary from behind-the-scenes as he berates Adel and her fashion sense with snarky and misogynistic comments.
Adel is then presented with a series of celebrity pictures, including Egyptian actors Amir Karara and Yasmine Sabri, and is asked what she thinks of each of them. Finally, Galal's picture comes on and as Adel collects her thoughts about him, he breaks out of the picture with a bull horn.
And that's when thingstake an ugly turn.
He starts by spraying Adel's hair and face with spray paint. The confession chair turns into a 360° gyrating rollercoaster and sends her flying around the set. Galal then submerges her in a tank full of crabs, throws snakes at her, and makes her sing "Ramez Galal is a YouTube star", threatening her as if she were his hostage.
The entire affair is an uncomfortable and cringe-inducing watch. Between his taunts and his apparent glee at playing the role of a torturer, Galal reveals there is no iconoclast in him, but that he's a bully.
But this leads to another important question: how can he continue to be on air today with such content?
When you search on YouTube, you see the reaction to Galal's videos are mixed. He has a fair share of admirers posting hearts and thumbs ups, but just as many people, if not more, who criticise his pranks and describe them as tasteless.
So what is it about this show that seems to defy both good taste and viewer opinion? Maybe his guests are in on it, and we're ones really getting "punked" after all.
Maybe Galal needs to take his turn on the chair and give some answers, because from where I'm standing, he's the only one laughing.