Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Comedy Convention - Dubai Edition

This past weekend, for the first time, I attended a live stand-up comedy show. I have always liked catching a smart stand-up gig on the tube, so I was quite excited to see what it would be like to actually attend one, and especially to see what one in Dubai would be like.

Title Board

The 3-day Comedy Convention tour goes through Dubai and Beirut. I attended only the last of the three days. It was held outdoors in the Dubai Media City amphitheatre, but (thankfully) the weather is still good in the evenings. But c'mon, no coffee? There was a hard bar, Japanese, grills, crepes, and Arabic, but no coffee?! I had to make do with a cranberry vodka to go with my tempura, and hope that it and the comedy would keep me awake.

Our performers were all American, except for one Italian. Erik Griffin, the comedian/host did a great job entertaining us in between his fellow comedians. His roasting of the generous chest hair of men here, and his scenario of an Arab man with a Black-American wife brought the house down. A lot of race/nationality jokes, but none I found that really crossed the line, so kudos to him.

The first comedian was Rusty Dooley, whose act consisted mostly of impressions of comedic alternatives to real movie scenes, or parodies of film personalities. It was pretty decent, most of the time. Especially his impersonation of Tom Cruise in Top Gun, down to the rectangular smile and the hair. Overall, not too broadly appealing, but better in that sense than Tommy Davidson.

I'm sure Davidson, the third, closing and headlining performer is a great comedian. His impression of Spanish TV news was probably the best part of his act. However, I felt his performance required far too cultural context to elicit the laughs. It might be great for Americans, but even he could feel the cloud of confusion hanging over much of his audience. At least Dooley had the relative prevalence of Hollywood culture going for him. I just thought Davidson should have focused more on more universally-themed jokes, considering much of the audience was not Western or American. Being English-speaking and even having a good deal of Western exposure does not mean you will know enough about Sammy Davis Jr. to find an impression of him to be funny.

Maniscalco? This man is loco!

But what made the whole show, according to me, was the middle act, by Sebastian Maniscalco. This guy is NOT to be missed. He totally dissected the awkwardness of the "first date", to peals of laughter from everyone. His gripes about the travails of air travel had us doubled over. His facial and vocal expressions were dramatic, yet believable. Maniscalco, together with Griffin, pretty much rocked the house throughout their performances. Don't miss them if you get the chance.

Link: http://www.thecomedyconvention.com/



  1. Did it have Russell Peters? He quite funny but can be rather racist. So if you can laugh at yourself, he's hilarious if not, then forget it.

  2. No, he was not part of this tour. But he did independently tour Dubai a few months back. And yes, race jokes do make up a good deal of his comedic arsenal. I wouldn't say all of those are necessarily "racist" though, in a derogatory sense. For example, !XOBILE!!!!!!

  3. It's just me being cautionary coz there are some people out there who feel that his jokes are racist. Personally, I find him a hoot.

  4. Me too. I hear that when he came here, he tore into every major nationality in the country.