Its been theorized that one of the major problems with Islamic culture is an inability to step outside itself and see itself as others see it.This perception from the West, and America in particular is that of a pan-Arab society laden of conflicts both internal and external. But then, if they didn’t have humor, it would be impossible to get by….
Is comedy a definite Western art form, or is this simply cultural superiority asserting itself? The Muslim faith is said to encourage laughter to the extent that it is a religion that seeks to achieve human well being. Its been said in the West that that the Arab sense of humor is nearly unfathomable or faintly existent, but then, we are dealing with two cultures which are self-consistent but have incompatible frames of reference. Or is this chasm, due to the Arab emphasis on what Walter Benjamin called the older tradition of storytelling that has been displaced my more “modern” narrative: The whole thing is ‘concomitant of the secular productive forces of history – a symptom that has quite gradually removed narrative from the realm of living speech and at the same time is making it possible to find a new beauty in what is vanishing’.
One might see this beauty in the flourishing of modernism. But I don’t know what narrative in ‘the realm of living speech’ means exactly. Perhaps this is conclusive proof not only of storytelling’s decline but its absence. And if that is so, it is causing cultural havoc.Read More:http://www.morose.fsnet.co.uk/blogarchive/thestoryteller.htm But, the mirth and laughter are part of what constitutes our individual essence, but reaching that juncture is hardly a linear exercise.
The ancient poetry may be defined as an illustrative criticism of Pre-Islamic life and thought. Here the Arab has drawn himself at full length without embellishment or extenuation. The famous orientalist D. S. Margoliouth (1858-1940) and Arab writer Muhammad Khalaf Ahmad are of the view that humour is not found in classic Arabic literature. In spite of being stubborn, nomadic and simple by nature, Arab nation were fond of derision and humour. If we follow the historical methodology to analyse the humorous and satirical Arabic literature, we may find hundreds of references in lexical material of pre-Islamic period’s poetry as well as in lingual connotation of that period.Read More:http://www.pu.edu.pk/phill/alhikmat/pdf_files/MUBEEN%20Humour%20and%20Comedy.pdf
The scene — the largest stand-up showcase in Cairo to feature local comics — marked a radical social and comedic experiment. Tamer Farag, a 35-year-old tour guide, riffed on the bizarre linguistic games that Egyptians play, incorporating English words into Arabic then randomly applying Arabic grammar rules to them…. By almost any standard, the experiment was a success, with the 500-seat venue sold out for both performances. “This shows people want to laugh. They know stand-up comedy and they love it,” Maha Hosni, the organiser, said. “All the university students know this culture and watch the comedy channels.” Egyptians are no strangers to comedy. The country is famous for its comedic actors and Egyptians are known for their humour. But that spirit of comedy has, until now, been channelled into slapstick films and plays. “We’ve always had comedy but it wasn’t an individual thing,” Mr Farag said. Now, the stand-up model is gradually taking hold, with a growing pool of local comics eager to hone their craft. “It’s gaining momentum,” said Mohammed Shaheen, a 29-year-old network engineer and comic. “I really believe it’s going to grow in Egypt. There’s a huge market for it.” Read More:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article7100287.ece
Mr. BROOKS: I expected polite laughter, maybe. You know, nobody would walk out. I have a line in the movie where I’m talking to my wife once I arrive in India and I’m saying, you know, maybe I bit off more than I can chew. And she says, oh, honey, everyone’s so proud of you, even my mother. And I say, honey, your mother thinks a Muslim is a fabric. Now, I know that’s okay. Before I wrote that line, I looked up and I knew that muslin was a worldwide word – that’s the word for the fabric – so, I thought, okay, I can do that, but I still didn’t, you know, I didn’t know enough to know, does fabric mean something bad? You know, I don’t know any of this. Well, you know, the audience laughed for 30 seconds at that. I’m telling you, it’s now the new benchmark for the great audiences of one of my comedies.
INSKEEP: Was there one thing that you did not intend to be funny that drew a laugh?
Mr. BROOKS: I’ll – yes, and I’ll tell you what it was. My intention in the movie in the show is that the comedian that I play has misjudged very badly the audience in which he’s standing in front of, but this audience actually laughed at some of the stuff that I didn’t want to get laughs at, so they laughed over the moments where the audience wasn’t laughing. …
INSKEEP: The moments of silence.
Mr. BROOKS: That’s right.
INSKEEP: They laughed at a bad joke.
Mr. BROOKS: That’s right. But what I really felt coming out of there was that the tension that I felt over the last four years, you know, they feel, too, and everybody in the world feels it. So, to relieve the tension with a laugh, was appreciated. Read More:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5164608
Joke-telling in Arabic is a much more drawn-out process than in English, hinging on details rather than timing, according to Korean-Jordanian comic Wonho Chung. At times, the buildup to a punch line is closer to storytelling.
Even within stand-up, much of Arab humor remains regional; referring to well-manicured Lebanese men as “the most beautiful Arab women,” or poking fun at Saudis’ “disappointment” at the grand opening of the Virgin Megastore in Jeddah.
Although far from daring, the medium is slowly breaking a major taboo in Arab culture: discussing personal lives in public.
Not all are ready. The mention of family members or spouses on stage still attracts shouts of “shame on you!” as well as laughter, American comic Amer Zahr noted.
No matter which direction it takes, the popularity of stand-up proves that “humorless Arabs” are eager to laugh at themselves, stresses veteran Jordanian satirist Nabil Sawalha.
“Why not? We came up with the greatest joke of all time,” Mr. Sawalha said. “Arab politics.” Read More:http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2010/0111/What-makes-an-Arab-laugh-Report-from-Jordan-s-comedy-festival
Dale Peck: “Semiotically, syntactically, at the level of the sign and the level of the sentence, from which all narrative proceeds, language waters the seeds of its own failure. Not just its inability to be what it names, but the immense difficulty of measuring the gap between. Of distance? Of closeness? It depends whether you see the cup as half full or half empty. But only after a work of literature has accepted its own failure – has, as it were, elegized its stillborn self – can it begin the complex series of contextual manipulations by which meaning is created and we locate ourselves as surely as the ancient navigators fixed their positions between stars. […] Contemporary novels have either counterfeited reality or forfeited it. In their stead we need a new materialism.”
…And what does he make of the more representative modernist writers who have dealt with such failure: Proust, Kafka, Beckett, Bernhard, and Handke too? Read More: http://www.morose.fsnet.co.uk/blogarchive/thestoryteller.htm