Ha­mad Al Amari

Qatar Today - - THE TREND SETTERS -

“Haven’t you seen a man and his camel be­fore?”

Look­ing back

Ha­mad Al Amari can't be­lieve how quickly 2014 went by; nei­ther can we. It feels like it was barely a few weeks ago that the World Cup was on in Brazil and Al Amari was play­ing host in the Fan Zone in Katara and quizzing in­no­cent by­standers in the au­di­ence about their favourite teams. “I was very lucky to be part of that,” he says. “Be­ing able to MC for one the big­gest sport­ing events, watch­ing foot­ball and get­ting crowds cheer­ing, it was amaz­ing. I did a standup rou­tine once dur­ing half time and when I saw a group of Ger­mans laugh­ing, I knew I was do­ing it right,” he laughs. Not only did the stint help en­dear him to the thou­sands of fans who were part of the ex­pe­ri­ence but it also made Ra­madan much eas­ier for him.

What brought this op­por­tu­nity to his doorstep was the in­ge­nious camel drive-thru video in which Al Amari, sit­ting gin­gerly atop a camel, bobbed into a Burger King drive-thru to or­der a cheese­burger. “We had only one shot to do it right,” he re­mem­bers. “The shock el­e­ment would have been lost if we had to do it again and peo­ple would have thought there was a pa­rade on. I re­mem­ber telling the team to get this from all an­gles. We did it and got out of there as quickly as we could.” (But not be­fore a cou­ple of con­fused cops showed up).

The idea had long been lurk­ing in this mind and when he even­tu­ally up­loaded the sketch on YouTube, it went vi­ral in a hurry. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of hits later, peo­ple in the US and UK were talk­ing about the video, which was be­ing trans­lated into Dutch and Ger­man.” I loved it and was very proud of it. Now I just want to do more.”

And he did. In ad­di­tion to a ra­dio show of QFRa­dio, he is a regular fix­ture on the QTips and Kl­mat Ras videos on Youtube. The lat­ter is an Ara­bic show by Jas­sim Al Ali, more than nine episodes of which are now up, that com­ments on so­cial be­hav­iours they ob­serve here. All of Al Amari's ma­te­rial is “sourced lo­cally” and there is plenty to poke fun about peo­ple in Doha.

And Al Amari, who is also cel­e­brat­ing his first year as a mar­ried man, has an­other end­less source of in­spi­ra­tion right at home (mar­ried co­me­di­ans owe a wealth of ma­te­rial to their long-suf­fer­ing wives). This is prob­a­bly why he is itch­ing to get back to his stand up roots and do more live per­for­mance.

“Any­where else in the world you could just walk into a club, ask to do six min­utes and they'll let you. There is a huge short­age of that here, the whole con­cept of per­for­mance arts,” he says.

Crys­tal gaz­ing

Al Amari was happy to be part of the breast can­cer aware­ness cam­paign along with some other in­flu­en­tial Qataris. “Ev­ery­one tells me they have seen me on the TV or in the theatre but I want to ask them, did they lis­ten? A lot can be changed with just a good cam­paign that is fo­cused. So­cial at­ti­tudes in­volv­ing driv­ing or giv­ing back to the so­ci­ety, for ex­am­ple.” That's on his wish­list for the year – to be in­volved in ef­fect­ing change. As com­edy gi­ants have showed us in the past, laugh­ter is some­times the most ef­fi­cient way to de­liver a mes­sage.

And though he loves to make fun of Doha, he also knows there is no place like it. “It's spe­cial. It doesn't work like the rest of the world. And the soil in the coun­try is cry­ing for seeds, ask­ing us to plant some­thing. I feel I am priv­i­leged enough to have the op­por­tu­nity.” Fi­nally, he says, he is in the right place at the right time.

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