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Ahmed Ahmed’s Leicester Square Questionnaire

11 Oct 2023

Determined to move to Hollywood to become a serious actor, Ahmed Ahmed pursued a career in stand-up after being typecast in consecutive roles. He unites with fellow Egyptian comics for The Egyptian Trilogy Comedy Tour on 25 October.

Hi Ahmed, is this your first time performing in the UK?
I’ve performed in the UK several times in the past but it’s been almost a decade. I believe it was 2014 when I did a run at Soho Theatre as well as having the pleasure of performing at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall on The Islamic Relief Tour back in 2010. I’m excited to be performing at the legendary Leicester Square Theatre for the first time.

What brought you to the world of comedy?
Good question! I believe the world of comedy got into me. It’s something I never thought I would pursue when I was younger, at least never professionally. I was determined to move to Hollywood to be a serious dramatic film actor, but after several years I was always typecast because of my name and background… cab driver, terrorist, sleazy Arab guy, etc. I felt stuck and wanted to have a voice so I quit acting, started from scratch and transitioned into stand-up comedy.

I grew up in America watching popular sitcoms and comedy films. My Dad (God rest his soul) was an extremely funny man and could always make people laugh on demand. Plus, Egyptians are naturally funny and we have what we call in Arabic “Daam Khafif” which translates as “we’re light blooded,” so I guess it was all around me growing up.

Where and when did you last perform in Egypt, and what’s it like to perform there?
I’ve performed in Egypt many times and the crowds are always great! Egypt is like the Hollywood of the Arab world so they really appreciate good entertainment. I was just there in March to perform at the American University of Cairo in Tahrir Square.

What’s your most memorable heckle?
In 2008, I was showcasing at a comedy club in Hollywood for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The crowd was predominantly urban and a bit rowdy. As soon as I hit the stage my first two jokes bombed, then a woman at the back of the room yelled out “say something funny!” The whole audience started booing me until I walked off stage. I did end up getting booked on The Tonight Show, but not from that showcase set.

Had you not chosen a career in comedy, what would you have done with your life?
I’d have probably been a chef or restaurant owner. I really enjoy cooking and think I’m pretty good at it. It’s still not too late!

What’s been the most standout moment of your comedy career so far?
One of the most memorable milestones in my career is directing award-winning documentary Just Like Us about American stand-up comedians performing in the Arab world. It’s really entertaining and educational!

What’s one thing you’d like the audience to take away from your show?
I want them to have fun and laugh hard. I’m not trying to preach, get too heavy or deep. It’s entertainment at the end of the day. Laughter is one of the most powerful ways to heal the body, mind and soul and that’s the objective for me.

The Egyptian Trilogy Comedy Tour featuring Ahmed Ahmed, Mohamed Salem, Fady Rizk and Chris Wegoda plays Leicester Square Theatre on 25 October.