By Samia Farid Shihata

As I watched the sneak preview of Adel Karam Live from Beirut, I kept thinking, ‘this guy is going to get a lot of heat when this show is released to the whole world by Netflix on March 1st!

Karam’s Neflix special tackles everything from relationships to the social issues faced by many Arabs every day, in a distinctly edgy style.  Karam makes fun of things like the different ways the Lebanese and other Arabs kiss each other, his personal hospital experience (in graphic detail), his ‘interesting’ visit to Africa, marriage advice and much more.

The show is a unique type of sarcastic raw humour, that is new for the region.  As I told the star comedian himself when I interviewed him, some in the Middle East would even call it X-rated.

“Well, that’s how I am, and that’s what I’m known for,” was his answer.  “The Lebanese are probably more open minded than others,” he adds. “I’ve been doing comedy for 25 years, and I am very natural in my shows. People come from all over Lebanon and the region to laugh with me, and my shows are sold out. I do take more liberties in live stand up shows than on my TV sitcoms, like Ma Fi Metloh.”

The test is in the pudding as they say, and once the reviews are out we’ll know whether Karam’s edgy comedic style was a good choice for the first ever, local Netflix production in the Middle East.

Karam credits his agent, Creative Arab Talent, for introducing his stand up show to Netflix when they announced their intent to produce a Netflix special locally.  He is excited about the launch, which is happening just a couple of weeks before the Oscars where his film, The Insult, is a finalist in the Foreign Film category.  Naturally, he is basking in this burst of international attention and hopes it is a precursor to more global success.

“I’m very proud we are going to the Oscars, not for me personally, but for the whole Arab world, says Karam. “The film is showing in the US now and it’s getting rave reviews.  I know it caused controversy in our region. The problem is that in the Middle East we take everything personally. People forget that this is art.”

It seems that this is really Karam’s year.  Besides the launch of the Netflix special and the Oscar nomination (and maybe a win!) he is starring in his first ever Egyptian film, Torab El Mas, by director Marwan Hamed.  Karam loved his first experience in Egyptian cinema and especially loved working with Hamed, who personally helped him master the Egyptian dialect and body movements.  “In Egypt, cinema is an established industry, unlike in Lebanon. I found the Egyptians very professional.  I hope this will be the beginning of more collaboration with them and that I will participate in more pan Arab projects.”

For the moment, Karam is grateful and proud to have joined notable stand-up comedy stars such as Gad Elmaleh, Jack Whitehall and Dieter Nuhr in Netflix’s effort to bring great international talent to its global audience.  Next, he will be heading to LA to attend the Oscars! We wish him luck!

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