Saudi Arabian Alkhairallah is one of the four Middle Eastern comedians being featured on the special, alongside Adi Khalefa (Palestine), Rawsan Hallak (Jordan), and Moayad Alnefaie (Saudi Arabia).His statement perhaps very succinctly captures how Netflix has approached the whole standup comedy game; it’s looking at ‘new people’.“It depends on the material you’re doing; there are things that have nothing to do with the viewer’s culture, or are completely removed from their culture, so it might be harder to The four comedians have attempted to create sketches that have a universal connection while giving insight into the Arab world, rather than creating comedy that plays off convoluted ‘inside jokes’ from the Arab world and as such can only be understood by Arabs.They explain, give space for cultural context, set up the jokes.
Their 130-million-strong subscriber base can almost instantaneously offer a huge, built-in audience for comics whose work flies under the (global) radar. Before her Netflix special, the comedienne needed help selling tickets to one of her shows; by comparison, she now sells out a venue in less than 60 minutes.The platform also featured American comedian on the rise, Hannah Gadsby, Aditi Mittal who was huge in India but not globally, and even Kuwaiti-Palestinian Mo Amer with his new special, When you record a show, you should think of it like a piece of content that’s on CD, or cable, or on an email - it goes wherever it goes. And it’s part of this show, it’s written in the title - special, not only in the sense that the sheer number is unprecedented (47 shows dropped in a single day), and not only because they are embracing different regions globally, but also because they are selecting comedians that are even more local – and taking the comedians as is, performing in their own languages.Although the four Middle Eastern acts all have a relative degree of success – that success is largely limited to the MENA region, and sometimes even their home countries.“When you record a show, you should think of it like a piece of content that’s on CD, or cable, or on an email - it goes wherever it goes. And it’s part of this show, it’s written in the title - - it’s comedy that transcends borders, you have to keep that in mind,” Al Khairallah says.Of course, certain insights will be most appreciated by people who share the same background as the comedian. Netflix are essentially diversifying their audience by curating content that is specifically for them.
While it was great to see an Arab like Mo Amer being given a massive platform to speak on, he is essentially an American citizen and his story represents that of an Arab immigrant; by comparison, Hallak, Alkhairallah, Khalefa, and Alnafaie are speaking in Arabic about their very Arab existences and experiences. Not one of them speaks about being mistaken for a terrorist, because it’s not about the Arab experience in America, it’s about the Arab experience in the Arab world.