While the rumours that Bassem Youssef is to be the host of OSN’s Saturday Night Live Bel 3araby have been quashed, the prospect of one of America’s most loved comedy shows coming to the Middle East has many in the region excited.
SNL isn’t quite what it used to be in the States, but the show has produced some classic TV moments and some of the best comedians in the game right now – something that the Arabic version could do for comics in MENA, too.
While Arab television has no real equivalent to the SNL format, the very concept of it isn’t completely foreign to comedy lovers in the region and Egypt has plenty of potentially great guest hosts…
As one of the most divisive celebrities in Egypt, Fifi Abdou’s emergence as a bonafide social media starlet has shown that the belly-dancer-turned-actress can poke fun at herself and has enough absurdity about her to be an engaging host. Khamsa Mwaa. Or whatever.
The sassiest, bitchiest face on Egyptian TV – period. Abla Fahita has courted all kinds of controversy over the last few years and the puppet that was once accused of being a British spy working for the Muslim Brotherhood (what an absurd sentence) would be perfect – imagine the skits.
Ahmed Fahmy, Hesham Maged & Chico
Ahmed Fahmy, Hesham Maged & Chico are, of course, no strangers to the idea of dressing up and acting silly, and the comedy threesome’s slightly abstract but familiar humour would make them ideal as a special three-person hosting force.
Ahmed Mekky has grown a little stale as of late – five seasons of El Kebeer are more than enough – but he’d be a fitting host for SNL and an appearance on the show would would give his own career a boost, too.
Combining a grinding whininess with a very particular and strange sort of familiarity that you find in that one weird relative you rarely see, Akram Hosny’s Ahmed Abou Hafeeza character has been a TV favourite over the last few years and could do a decent job of presenting.
I grew up with se3eidy Fel Gam3a El Amrikeya and Hama Fe Amsterdam and I can’t think of anyone I’d want to see more on the SNL stage. Though not as prolific as he once was, 2015 has seen Mohamed Henedy remerge into relevance through his Twitter account. Spoiler: it’s hilarious.
Initially a bit-part players for Bassem Youssef alongside Shady Alfons and Khaled Mansour, Ayman Wattar and co. went on to become staples of the show and stands as one of the most popular mainstream comics in the country.
Every time I open my laptop screen these days, I’m invariably met with something Ramez Youssef related – be it his show, Mish Impossible, his jetsetting adventures on social media or even that delightful Head & Shoulders ad. An architectural engineer by trade, Youssef is one of the hottest properties in Egyptian comedy right now and wouldn’t go amiss on SNL. He’s rather handsome, too.
Hesham Masnour’s show, El 3elm wal Emaw, leaves no stone unturned or un-mocked. Touching on all manner of subject, Mansour’s work with Bassem Youssef in the past gives the actor/writer/director-in-the-making enough momentum for an SNL appearance.