Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dark Turns, YouTube, and Laughing at Old White People


Hisham Fageeh may not be a household name yet, but you've probably seen his face and heard his voice. The Saudi comedian, alongside a couple other members of Telfaz11, were behind 2013's viral hit "No Woman No Drive." Contrary to what the video says, Fageeh does not describe himself as a social activist, but as a comedian, a role he plays while working with the Saudi comedy group and when he performs stand up. That's not to say that he doesn't care about social issues, rather he is acutely aware of them and utilizes a "push and pull" strategy to get his followers thinking. Many times that ends up with mean comments on the Internet, but hey, every comedian has its hecklers.

I understand that your primary role in posting the "No Woman No Drive" video was to entertain viewers and not to make a political stance, but then why choose such a sensitive and controversial topic such as women driving in Saudi Arabia?
As a comedian it's always fun to play with sexy, provocative topics.
Right, but in a way you're starting a conversation then not following through with it, it's like you're pulling out of it.
I understand how it's problematic when people say that. I think the nature of my work and geography goes: I choose to participate and withdraw myself accordingly, to be smart about how I control my brand and what it's associated with and what it's not polluted with, because at the end of the day this is how I pay my bills. People talk about something similar with someone like Jon Stewart, he always says this disclaimer "Oh I'm just a comedian I don't know what you guys are talking about," but at the same time there are times when Jon Stewart is very convincingly playing a watchdog or lending some type of like truth or authenticity to the news ... He wants some kind of quality control factor. When push comes to shove he can disconnect, but this is the nature of his and my work, we decided to go into this field of work because this is the one of the perks of it. It's fun to tow the line, to call the shots, to call a time out, to make up all your rules whenever you want. This is the beauty of it, of being a comedian. The less fortunate side is when people say "Oh you're a comedian, it doesn't matter what you think, why don't you stick to making people laugh, what you say has no validity." So there's two sides of the coin. But yeah back to disconnecting - I absolutely made the choice to A) not go into politics, even though this is something I studied and B) present myself professionally and socially as a comedian and entertainer.

When I pressed Fageeh further and asked him to consider the fact that while he may not be a social activist himself, but his participation and production of the video was an act of social activism and to comment on his statement that women driving in Saudi has to happen "at the right right time," he said this:
"I do not want to mess with politics over here. I do not have the energy nor the patience. And if I do delve into it I will do it in Arabic so I can twist other people's answers / logic around."

Switching gears now, do you like performing online or on stage better? What are the pros and cons of both?
They're different animals. I will say this, performing on stage, there's nothing like it. The good is incredible, like heroin I'd imagine. The bad is really bad, you just feel like your soul's being sucked out of your body. As opposed to studio comedy or pre-recorded digital comedy, sometimes you have moments when you're performing on camera and it's like that's the take, we got it. But then sometimes you'll hit the joke perfectly and the person in front of you will laugh or they'll forget their lines and it's magic and you'll have to fake it. That's the essence of television, of film, of faking that reality. If you're really good you can hit that comedic twice or three times in a row. But I do think that the two inform each other. On a personal note, when I'm shooting a bunch and we're doing 17 hour days, I think, "I just wanna be on stage and get the live reaction." And then when I'm on stage I think, "It's always about the studio and being in control of the artistic vision." In this attention deficit age, both as creators and consumers, it's nice to have a balance of both. You can satisfy the needs and change it up once in a while. Some people are purists and say it's only this or that. I'm putting more time into studio work for sure and I love it so far. I think honestly, studio work is more profound at this point, with the digital age and the way people consume culture. The maximum amount of people that will attend a live event is what, 90,000 people? That's if you're at the biggest arena. The biggest I've done is 4,000, but when you think about something that's reached 3 million, that's a number that I can read, but it's arbitrary and abstract to me. To really discern or understand the fact that I've been seen by this many millions of people is insanity to me. I still can not imagine the depth of it. My first video got 18 views. I sent it to my little sister and I knew she watched it, but I had no idea who these other 17 people were. It was just a mystery to me. I remember thinking that number was so cool. Once it passed 80,000 I was like, I have no idea what's going on. 

I wonder what the benchmark is to make something viral. Does it have to reach at least a million views or can it just be 500,000? Like who determines these things?
I do not know. We argue with ad agencies a lot. When I was working more with Telfaz , we would be like, you know, this video sucks, it's not going to hit a million and they'd be like man, we'd be happy with 30,000 you know? It's arbitrary.  Some people are fine with hundreds, but some need millions of views to create something.

In the end, even if you're an artiste and you only care about your art, you are a human being and you do seek that emotional gratification, whether it's on stage where the effects are immediate or if it's later where you can have those numbers. We all want to be appreciated for our work and with technology nowadays it's just quantified with numbers. 
Yeah I've been lucky enough to experience a few types of "fame" or exposure or whatever words we want to use here and initially the first thing I did was something I fundamentally believed was funny and I did not want anything out of it other than to make my little sister laugh. The fact that that entire first series I did reached millions was very rewarding. But then I started meeting the people that were watching it and I had several types of visceral reactions to these types of people. At first it was like, "Oh my God it's that stupid guy from the Internet" and I was like "Oooh, you're just laughing at my accent or my voice, this is not good!" Truth be told, I was lucky enough to meet people who understood what I was trying to do with my work, people who said, "Oh my God when you scrunched your nose here!" I was like man, this is awesome. When I did "No Woman No Drive," which was catering to a Western audience I will admit that I got a lot of racist, Orientalizing ... rude, patronizing "Oh you're so cute, you're trying to do humour..." Actually no, I'm funnier than you and I've always been smarter than you, but you've just discovered my videos. At one point I was running with a clique that were all more famous than I was. I was with Badr Saleh, who's number one in the Middle East. He hit a million before Bassem Youssef. He would put my stuff online and give me social media pushes. I started getting his fans and we started doing shows together and his fans were just rude to me. Yes, more people are seeing me but more people are cursing me. I don't know if I want this exposure. I want to develop my following more organically, instead of being pushed by big names and getting a following I do not want. If you follow me on social media, you'll see me doing infantile humor to counter the following I'd get from the Telfaz crew. Telfaz is a very mainstream, strong brand and I'm not necessarily fitting to that. I brought my own flavor to the show, but most people are coming to watch Temsa7  or Ali Kalthami, these guys are the real man's man's comedians. They're really typical in a very good way, I do not mean that derogatorily. It's been a battle for me to manage my brand in a way that I can dictate my followers. I'm always prompting discussions on my Twitter. I'll talk about sensitive topics. I'm always pushing my fans. I'm always pushing them away and the people that stick around, I know they like me enough.
That's an interesting strategy. 
Yeah I guess, it's self loathing probably. If there was a psychologist sitting next to us, they'd be like he has some real issues. But yeah this is how I'm dealing. It's probably not the best from a marketing standpoint, but I'm more interested in reinventing myself and not being typecast. 
Who knows? If you become super duper famous, you'll be forced to have a brand. Every famous comedian has a brand. 
This is something I've been trying to discover for a while. I like Zach Galifianakis. He's as mainstream as can be. He's done his share of really terrible movies, he's done his share of really incredible nerdy, comedy stuff, he can balance that. Somebody like Will Ferrell does some really bad stuff to pay the bills. I can be OK with that, if the artist can reconcile him or herself with me if they put out good stuff at the same time. Will Ferrell's done that. His character in Eastbound and Down is one of the most beautiful, refreshing characters I've ever seen in my life. It's OK that he's done a skating movie and a basketball movie and a soccer movie, I just will not see it. He's producing good comedy at the same time. Just recently I saw Chris Rock's Top Five
Oh yeah I just bought that, I've been meaning to watch it.
It's good, Chris Rock did a great job directing, he really impressed me.
Well he was really good in this small film  Two Days in New York, where he was married to this French girl. He was hilarious!
Oh that was Woody Allen was it not?
Oh God it was? Oh no I watched a Woody Allen film?!
Sure if there's a French girl in it then it's gotta be Woody Allen. [The film was in fact filmed by Julie Delpy, the "French girl."]
I don't know, she wasn't 13 years old so who knows.
I'm just getting into the old Mia Farrow interview in the New York Times or Rolling Stone, and it's gonna hit me ya know. I was aware of it, but it did not sink in. I'm just like man, it's such a shame. A lot of people stood up for him and I revisited it after the Bill Cosby allegations came out and it made it a lot easier to say, "Fuck this guy I do not wanna support him." There's so much good content in the world, you do not need to support this person.
It's kinda the same case with Floyd Mayweather, knowing that he was convicted 5 times for domestic battery or violent assaults on women, I could not pay to watch the fight. Even if you did not pay, but you watched the fight, you're sending a message that you support him and you're maintaining his position of power in which he can abuse the women around him and get away with it.
I had no idea. What's really disheartening is that we build up these people as legends - this is the whole paradigm of entertainment media. These people become demi-gods in our minds and in our hearts. When we find out that they're really flawed, disgusting human beings at times, it hurts. It's a huge blow to our emotional morale. The industry's difficult, a lot of these people have to do nasty things to maintain their position. Even Michael Jackson, who I'm guilty of being the number 1 fan of ... I remember when the allegations came out, I was younger, I thought that there was no way he could have done these things, he was so rich! In my mind I thought, he does not need to do these things. But looking back on it now that I'm older, I'm like yeah ... Michael Jackson was definitely emotionally abused by his dad so I guess it's logical to see this kind of turnover. It's not such a ludicrous accusation. Why should you question the kid? He's testifying against an adult anyway, you should be with the kid. But we take the side of a celebrity. Even this Chris Brown shit. And people are like. "Well Rihanna ..." Like why are you sticking up for Chris Brown? If you like his music that's fine, but do not stand up for him. It's all disenchanting. It just shows you how gross this capitalist industry is.

Well this interview took a dark turn!
Right? I don't even know how to move forward.
I know! My next question seems so dumb. 
It's OK.
Anyway, hopefully that's a good segue. So on to question 6! What's it like as a comedian performing stand up shows in Saudi? Do you only ever perform for Saudi audiences or do you perform for expat ones as well?
I've gotten requests to do expat shows, I think my management was just really bad at communication, it's always falling through, but maybe I'm just asking for too much money. Anyway, I've mostly been performing for the last two or three years in Arabic when I'm in Saudi and for non-Arabs when I'm abroad. One one occasion I did tour in the US and the UK in Arabic. So at this point my huge, my big big shows are definitely all in Arabic. But I put a good amount of time in English doing open mics in New York. It's also hard to do English content, especially with my comedic upbringing being in New York. I wanna be like, fuck this and fuck that, I wanna speak fluently you know? But if you're doing a comedy show here in English where your patrons are Aramcons, who are more conservative, how are you going to talk shit about these people? It's hard. As a comedian, how are you going to comment on these people when these people are expats? Am I supposed to do hacky Arab jokes in English in Saudi? It's hard. That's why I tend to, depending on the region I'm in, stick that audience. If I'm here I'll do Saudi stuff. I've seen Saudi guys do English stuff here for Saudis and it was cringe worthy at times. They would say, "Oh you know my girlfriend." What are you talking about? You don't have a girlfriend! Nobody here is comfortable talking about this, it's awkward, you're only saying this because it's in English. Just shut up. There's a weird space, culturally, where you enter. I'm a victim of Third Space culture, being half Saudi half American, and I've lived in both countries. I don't fully identify with any, so I just adopt the policy of 'When in Rome.' 

Fageeh performing at the Arab American Comedy Festival in New York City

I had this interview with Big Hass the other day...
Yeah I read it.
Oh great! Well I mentioned you in our discussion on the importance of the Internet and he said that Arab hip hop artists and rapper shouldn't copy what artists are doing in the US. Don't sing about gangs and shooting! You drive a Bentley, what are you talking about?
Especially with hip hop, I've been reading a lot and been lucky enough to be around some important people in the Arab hip hop scene and um... how do I say this next sentence? My favourite hip hop artists are not from Saudi. As far as authenticity, I've seen Omar Offendum and Narcy live and that shit is magic man. Their sense of accomplishment isn't, "Oh hey I'm number one in Saudi Arabia." That's something I pride myself on. My standard isn't Arab or Gulf, I want to be worldwide. I'm not trying to get number one in Riyadh or Al-Khobar, because that's bullshit to me. Any person can do that with a few months work. These successful Arab hip hop artists resonate with the community, especially the diaspora, because the struggle is very real, besides the fact that it's religious or political, it's cultural. These people are foreigners. The people in the homeland say these people are fake Iraqis or fake Syrians. The people abroad say they're 'towel heads' or whatever derogatory term people are using at this time. But some of the Saudi hip hop... I've sat with these kids too. Their motivation is so bad, they just want fame and they're faking who they are. Whenever I sit with Narcy or Omar, I'm just so lucky to call these guys my friends, I'm constantly inspired. But there is something that needs to be noted about hip hop and stand up and that's that both are American art forms. We can never ever deny that, but that being said you can definitely create something new. You can invent something if it comes from within you. And that's true for most art. It's so cliche, preachy thing for me to say, but at the same time, when people think of albums or speeches that are timeless, the only constant factor is honesty. You'll hear some musicians or comedians say that they don't sing those songs anymore or tell those jokes anymore because even they came from an honest place at the time, they've changed.

What are the differences between American and Saudi audiences?
What we're allowed to laugh at in both cultures is completely different. Where I'm at right now in my career in Arabic, I've been sticking to pseudo-, quasi-religious stuff. I try to keep things in check. If I make fun of something, people say it's a sin, but then I'll respond and say that it's not, it's not in the books anywhere that says it's a sin. Artistically that's where I've been. In American that would never work. If you talk about religion you're gonna be someone like Bill Maher, who's aggressively leftist or anti-religious. I can't do that approach because I'll get my head chopped off. My first degree was in religion so I'm more sensitive to that. My humour's probably going to be more racially charged in America. It's isn't equal between my Arab audience and my American audience. My Arab audience is so much bigger. I mean I'd love to sell out to a crowd of 100 people in the States, but you have to focus on what you're doing. And geographically you can't be in Riyadh and selling out to crowds at the Comedy Cellar at the same time.

Do you see a difference between audiences in Jeddah for example, and Riyadh?
That's a good question. People in Jeddah, just because there's more institutionalized comedy there, are more forgiving and I can have a little bit more fun. People in Riyadh are awesome because they're such a dry, funny people. 
Huh. Just like the weather. 
That was a lame joke. I can't believe I made a joke in front a comedian. 
I didn't hear it! What did you say?
You said the people in Riyadh are so dry and I said, "Just like the weather."
Hahahaha, that's good! Yeaaah. Let me try to think if I've done anything in Khobar. I don't think I've done anything in the Eastern Province. 
OK that should be your next thing!
Alright, organize something, I'll come out. Even if it's for the expats. 
Even if it's for the expats! 
I'll make some awkward jokes about white people and they'll get uncomfortable. 
It's funny because expats are either super Republican Texans, who are all retired or retiring now, or they're newbie yuppies who make homemade almond "milk." 
I've been really fortunate to not meet anyone terrible. I'd imagine that the people in Aramco were the worst, in the 90s. 
The 90s were just a weird time. 
There was probably a Golden Age for Republicans to come here. I'd say now it's more balanced. The expat community that I've met in the Eastern Province thus far have been really sweet. 
Oh that's good.
I haven't had any issues. I mean they're not perfect human beings, I'll tell you that much. They've been fairly progressive and culturally sensitive and generally interested, which is cool. For me, on a personal level I'll never get over the fact that nobody learns Arabic. That annoys me.
Just as someone who was born and raised here... 
It's impossible right?
Yeah, I mean from the very first moment that you begin your life here, from the age of 6 you're segregated, and I'm purposefully using this word here, from one another. You're enrolled in to different schools. The Saudis are required to attend Saudi schools and the expats attend Aramco schools. You have next to no interaction unless you're neighbours or on the same sports team. And that's more than the Saudi community here in camp. The Chinese community stays together, the Indian community stays together, you know? I mean you can learn Arabic as a "foreign language" here in middle school, which is hilarious, but I learned it in university. I'm not apologizing for the way things are here, I'm just...
Yeah yeah I know. For me I think I'm intolerant of it because my mom lived here for 21 years and didn't learn it. She learned some basic shit like me, yes, and no, stuff that I learned in Sri Lanka when I was there for a week. I'm like WTF Mom. She said that she'd learn Arabic when my Saudi family learned English and they actually did, to a comfortable degree, within 10-15 years because of technology or globalization. We never foresaw that, but she's still not wielding any Arabic. But that's part of the American essence - they'll learn me, I'll never learn them. 

That's a good segue into my next question. Is any of your comedy genetic? Are there any jokers in your family?
Yeah my dad's really funny. My dad's hilarious. He's the funniest, most sarcastic... His timing's so good. I just start giggling when I see his eyes shift and he's about to comment on something. Even if it's like predictable, you love hearing it. I wasn't able to inherit it directly, I inherited a weird inversion of it. I play on opposite space. My dad is more like a machine gun whereas I'm more silent. Now my sister's just hilarious, I've gotten a lot of humour from her. She's younger so she's hip.
Yeah, hahaha. I'm trying to stay relevant. I wrote something to her the other day: "Hey this shit's on fleek," spelling it with an 'a' instead of with an 'e.' She's like, "You're a dumb ass, you don't know anything." My sister and I do comedy music together. We're definitely on the same wave length.

What do you think the difference is between the American and Saudi senses of humour?
Ali Kalthami and I probably talk about this weeks on out, we're trying to get that essence to write shows and movies. Of course my disclaimer before we even begin, I won't be able to answer it, it's impossible to know an entire nation. I would go more Freudian in analyzing the American sense of humour and say that it's all based on sex. In Saudi it's status I would say. The switch from high to low status. I play a lot on that, that's why I think I'm semi-successful. I play low status and people love that low status shit. It's an objective of mine to learn how to play a high status role.

How does your mixed heritage play a role in you being able to make fun of Saudi society?
I would be very sure that most people don't know that I'm American. The reason why I can make these jokes is because I'm one of them. The big elephant in the room in American civil or racial discourse right now is that America is a melting pot. When brown kids in America grow up and say this is what's wrong with you A, B, C, D, it can't just turn around and say "Well you're not American!" The country built itself on the marketing campaign that we are all Americans. That comes to bite you in the ass once you are a third or fourth generation American and these first generations are coming up and talking back to you. There's nothing you can do. This is the building block of the American Dream or identity. But yeah, when it comes to comedy Americans are OK with a comedian saying "Americans are stupid." In Saudi you can say "We are so stupid." Or "I'm so stupid," that's even better, that's more ideal. You can't say "Saudis are stupid," they'd be like, "Speak for yourself!"

Who's your number fan?
I wanna be cliche and say my wife Raneen, I'm trying to think if she laughs... Yeah we laugh at stuff together, stuff that only we think is funny. I think she's hilarious too. We have this new thing where when we meet somebody terrible we just sit it out and laugh about it later. It's a nice way to reconcile meeting terrible people.
I can't wait to get married one day then!
You have a lot to look forward to. It's really awesome. I am really lucky to have found someone that I can call my best friend and travel partner. She never gives me a hard time. There are no cultural differences, despite the fact that we're culturally different. We understand each other. We're from the same school of life.
Two peas in a pod. 
Yeah yeah.

Hisham Fageeh Raneen Bukhari couple portrait Saudi Arabia blog
Hisham and his wife Raneen. Photo taken by Chndy. Tumblr

So my mom has a friend who claims that she dated Seinfeld when they were teenagers and that he would call her up in the middle of the night with joke ideas. Apparently they were never that funny. Do you ever do that to Raneen?
Yeah yeah. She's seen me screw up jokes, that she knows are funny on stage. I'll say cancer instead of diarrhea by accident. It ultimately makes us laugh so that's good. She's definitely someone I run jokes or ideas by. Ali Kalthami taught me that he runs his jokes by his wife and she won't laugh or crack a smile and he says, "It's funny, trust me!" He taught me that some jokes she won't find funny because she finds other things funny. I recently told Raneen about a script and I was waiting for her to crack up laughing and she didn't, but I love it anyways. I run a lot of stuff by her and I appreciate her input. A lot of times she gives me a good segue.

How do you think your comedic style has developed?
I fear that I'm no longer developing new realms of comedy, but just sharpening the ones that I have, does that make sense?
Yeah, yeah.
That's a big fear of mine. I'd like to think that the more comedy I consume, the more comedy I can produce. That's a philosophy that I abide by and believe in, romantically. I'll go to Vine for a lot of inspiration. It's constantly renewing itself and moving so quickly. You're almost seeing the inverse of what was just happening. They're playing in irony a lot. Songs are the next thing. If you play a song now from 2006 ironically, it's hilarious. Think about what you were bumpin in on in 2006. I recently saw someone put a clip of a wrestler. He said, "You're not even a real journalism." And like, breathes in a really funny way. He just exhales with confidence. And I was like, "Oh my God I had no idea that there was such a thing as breathing comedy." I had such a moment of clarity like, everything is comedy.
I have literally never gone on Vine.
But you know some good Vines right?
Ok, this is how bad it is. I didn't think I was out of touch, but I have friends that are literally one year younger than me and they would play "best of" clips from YouTube for me. I had no idea what was going on. I did notice some Viners(?) that were popular, like, there's that guy who pretends he's Lil Wayne, which I'm sure is so old now. 
I've been lucky enough to have certain people, Chndy is one of them, who revives my spirit with culture. Which is how I like to think of myself when I joined Telfaz. I gave them a new perspective and access to resources they didn't know existed. And then that quickly dried up so we're looking for new souls to suck in. Vine is a very humbling thing, it teaches me how old and irrelevant I am. Which is good, to keep your humility, because you keep on seeing comedians that seem like they have no self awareness.

Well we have four more questions left, just let me know if this is going too long.
No no it's good. I don't know if it's obvious, but I like talking about myself.
And we were just talking about humility so...
OK well. My favourite movie is Wayne's World, I don't care what anyone says. My favourite comedy shows are Community and Parks and Recreation. What are your favourite English language movies and shows?
Parks and Rec is just freakin brilliant. I graduated from UCB Theatre, which is the school or institute that Amy Poehler founded.
Oh wait, what does that stand for again?
Upright Citizens Brigade. Aziz Ansari came from there, so has Aubery Plaza, Ben Schwartz, they all did it before they became gigantic. Nobody knew who Chris Pratt was and then boom! He became an up and coming A lister. Chris Pratt is the perfect specimen for playing the comedic protagonist, he has a full on straight comedy background and then he was able to become sexy. He's perfect, he's killing it now. Aziz Ansari was a good comedian before, but he just sold out Madison Square Garden twice. That's huge. They had a such a strong team. It's one of the important comedy shows. And Mike Myers created the character of Wayne long before Saturday Night Live and that goes back to answer the question about comedic sensibilities, sharpening your style rather than taking on a new one. UCB is cool because you invent characters. It pushes you to have a better resume. There's also something to be said about the charisma that an actor carries. Some people can't sustain the attention of an audience for more than ten minutes. I think that I'm about to do the same for myself. I know that I'm a good second guy. Can I be a first guy? That's the question. As far as comedy movies, Judd Apatow is king. His entire crew is amazing. And he's been in training since he was a kid. At the age of 6 he was transcribing SNL shows. He's like a Chinese gymnast. As far as shows go, I love Childrens Hospital, that's a really good one. They make fun of Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs, and it's done in a farcical way.

What do you see in Saudi Arabia's comedic future? I hear festivals are the big thing, whether it's music or movies. 
There have already been comedic and film festivals here. But I think these things are just semantics at this point. You can't fake this type of culture. People have to be at a point where they're accepting comedy, unconditionally, where it's part of the cultural paradigm. Festivals have to create a space alternative to the mainstream. We're just grabbing at straws at this point. I'm praying to God that this isn't just a phase right now. What's cool is cities like Abu Dhabi are creating a perfect incubator for creative life. And somewhere like Saudi where you have an abundance of these people, you can't find a nurturing environment. I don't know what the solution is. It's easy to say that it's the responsibility of the state, but it has bigger, more important things to do. I mean comedy is the most important thing to me. For now it has to be personal initiatives and then after a while there will be governmental or non-profit organizations that will be sponsored by the state to create this perfect industry.

Do you have any upcoming English language projects?
I have to give a shout out to this awesome guy I'm going to work with, Shaan Baig. We found each other through this community we're a part of called Mipsterz. We've been writing scripts and we're hoping to meet up and shoot a couple. There's only so many hours in the day. I feel like I can't catch up sometimes. I wish I didn't have to sleep.
That's when you know you've found your life's passion. 
I say that, but then I'll go take a nap.

Last question: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Let's see. Um...
This is your ultimate test as a comedian. If you answer it incorrectly then that's it.
I'm just going to diffuse it with some philosophy. The egg, that's my answer.


  1. Interesting but why not give credit to Bob Marley, a Jamaican who originally create and sang the song back in the 1970s. He "heard in America" which is misleading because everything musical is allowed in America.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Anonymous! The beginning part of his video was actually meant to be a satire of activists and how they present themselves. He's not a social activist (like I said in the early part of my interview) and he knew of the song way before he "heard it in America." It's meant to be funny.

  3. Loved this interview Nadine. Very interesting hearing from Hisham and how he bridges american and saudi sides of himself.

    1. Thanks Todd! Yeah the interview covered a lot of topics including identity and the different aspects of it. Very insightful.