The doors shut in our face. “You can’t enter right now,” the waitress said.
A posh voice said: “Let them in.” And the gateway into the new local comedy night: One Night Standup, was opened to us.
The posh voice belonged to Hisham Wyne, whose accent, most of us thought, escalated to a grand scale of I’m-Really-From-Blighty from a lower scale of Obviously-a-Fake-Brit, through the night (you know I’m not being mean, right Hisham?). He’s also someone I’ve known for nearly 8 years now, and the organiser of the monthly free event meant to foster the local comedy scene.
When I got the event invite, I wasn’t sure if I would attend. But I needed a good laugh, quite desperately, and I felt I should go to support the community, and a friend. Off I went, wondering whether I would enjoy it. The knowledge of never having been to a live standup show before was also daunting…what if it wasn’t my thing?
We crowded into the inner room of 1Up at the Boutique 7 Hotel and Suites, TECOM (the way to get to the bar is quite interestingly a staircase that looks like the Dubai Metro entrance), and waited. True to Dubai fashion (or desi fashion imported to the country, some might argue), the event started a half-hour after it was scheduled to. But I was glad I got there early; some who landed up late had to be content with perching themselves outside the room and watching the acts on a TV screen.
The room quickly filled up, bursting to the seams – I had to move my high bar chair a few times to prevent brushing against the fellow standing in front of me. The air was rife with the smell of chips, ciggies and booze. We waited.
And then it began. Hisham opened the night, poking fun at himself and more. Then after pulling chits out of a fishbowl, the comedians moved on the stage to make us laugh. After a few acts, there was a 15-minute break with an excellent live acoustic performance (what was the singer’s name? He was so good. Plus later on the band said they were from north of England, which is my home ground…or…err…study ground), and then back to comedy it was.
It’s hard to do that you know – comedy. Making your friends laugh is one thing, but standing in front of a crowd – a hard-to-please crowd – is another. There were, quite honestly, varying degrees of success. Some comedians had me laughing so much, I was worried I’d topple off my high seat in pure mirth (Hisham, put up some pics from the night and tag the comedians; I want to know which performers were my favourites!).
A mutual consensus was reached between me and my friends: the Emirati comedians were insanely and excruciatingly good. Perhaps the cultural relevance helped, but they knew how to play the audience, knew how to get our stomachs knotted up in laughter. Well done. We even loved the opening act: a Pakistani (was his name Salman Qureshi?) whose Superhero-in-Dubai jokes were pretty hilarious. I know I’ve missed a lot of you, but I was too busy balancing myself on my chair trying not to fall off in doubled up laughter to take notes or photos. Overall, an excellent night out and time well spent.
Now to scrub away the reek of cigarette smoke from my hair.
For more information, check out One Night Standup on Facebook.