Sometimes, I fear Beirut has nothing more to offer. Fortunately, more times than not, this city proves me very , very wrong. On Saturday, I was planning to spend a typical Saturday night probably hitting Gemmayzeh then clubbing somewhere. BUT, while getting dressed and simultaneously checking my Facebook, I found something interesting on my newsfeed: 4 local stand up comedians, in a few hours, somewhere in Beirut. A phone call later, I had booked two seats for Lori and me at The Comedy Club in Monot.
The funny business starts on the phone, for when I called to reserve I asked “what should one do to attend tonite” and the nice lady on the phone said in a matter of fact-ly voice “First, reserve. Then, come and enjoy.” So, even before laying eyes on the place, I was starting to like it.
The Comedy Club is located right above Pacifico in Monot, so it wasn’t that hard to find. We took a small table for two in the middle of the club and were surprised to find a packed house. The club serves food as well, so Lori had some chicken with sauteed vegetables and fries and I had a cup of orange juice (-_-). Around 11:00 PM, the show began with Elie Mitri breaking the ice and letting a few dirty words out to prepare for the unapologetically hilarious pieces that were to follow.
Elie Mitri is the “batee2″ guy in MTCtouch’s hilarious TV commercials, he was also the host of the night and the founder of the club. His chilled and cool method of delivering jokes will catch you off-guard and have you suddenly bursting out in laughter. The air of familiarity in the room was also refreshing, as if everyone present were very good friends and it was ok to let out a piglet-snort every now and then.
Next came Dany Sakr, whose piece included healthy portions of sex and weed in Lebanon. Dany’s piece was extremely relatable to, with the jokes we crack about people in Lebanon who smoke weed and think they’re outsmarting people who don’t and the police by calling it “chocolat bi 50,000 alf” or “7ashix.” Another hilarious one was about a sexual encounter with a French girl in his aunt’s house up in Douar, where the fridge had nothing in it but debs el kharoob (molases) instead of the sexier chocolate syrup for example. Skype-sex, weed, s&m… Dany handled it all like a boss. My favorite was how his mother is in “appear offline” mode sometimes, and simply recites what a mother should say without paying attention to what Dany tells her, like his answer to “kif ray7in?” is “bi siyaret bugs bunny el khadra” to which his artist mom replies “illo ma yesra3″. Oh, and did I forget to mention Dany’s mothers and brother, included in some of his jokes, were in the audience?
Up next was Joe Rahmeh, all the way from Aaynata El Arez, a land famous for weed production and a notoriously heavy accent. The butt of many of Joe’s jokes was Minister of Electricity Gebran Bassil, deservedly so in my opinion. Joe also cracked jokes about his typical Lebanese village father, how burning marijuana plants in bulk by the police made people up there happy for two months, going “hunting” without guns since the birds were also on the floor, high. Joe’s relationship advice was also hilarious, which led into some improv towards the end of his gig. He was interactive with the crowd, much to Lori’s dismay who became the volunteer for all improv sessions that night. Though, I’m proud because when Joe asked for something guys hate that girls do, “heels” was Lori’s answer, and I couldn’t agree more ladies!
The final comedian was a resident doctor at Hotel Dieu, Elias Ghoussoub. When you look at Elie, you feel he’s that mean, always-angry, hates-everyone person who you’d want to avoid. That’s until he starts spewing his laugh-out-loud venom on stage. He started off cracking jokes about Elie Mitri, with the most hilarious one being “awwal marra t3arrafat 3a Elie, aleh inno 3odwo el zakari fiyyeh… ya3ne ayro fiyyeh. Iltillo mni7 iltilleh ma kenit mentebih” to which young and old, hipster and tante clapped to. Elias then went on to describe Christmas dinner with his family, which was also absolutely hilarious. His mean, nerdy demeanor makes his punch lines all the more powerful. Later followed some improv, and with Lori’s help, he played out a movie scenario called “7abibi darabneh bil basterma.”
All in all, we had a blast at The Comedy Club. I am extremely glad we decided to go, and this is a discovery I definitely want to share with all of you. The charge for the show is just 10,000 LBP per person, the rest is whatever drinks or food you order, which is a massive deal for a Saturday night and 4 comedians live! The very friendly atmosphere also adds to the magic of the place, which is refreshingly “underground” and non-mainstream. So, if you thought Lebanon has just a couple of comedians who joke in English and rework Pablo Francisco jokes, think again and try The Comedy Club’s alternating, very Lebanese lineup every week (and hopefully twice per week too). Check their Facebook page for their schedules!