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Mohamed Salem’s Leicester Square Questionnaire

3 Oct 2023

A pioneer of Egyptian stand-up, Mohamed Salem launched his comedy career on the stages of schools and universities in the port city of Alexandria. This October, he joins a trio of top Egyptian comedians for a one night only laughathon in the West End - the Egyptian Trilogy Comedy Tour.

Hi Mohamed, is this your first time performing in the UK?
This will be my first performance in the UK, and I must say, I’m absolutely thrilled about it!

Other than performing at Leicester Square Theatre of course(!), what are you most looking forward to during your trip to London?
While I’m certainly excited about gracing the stage at Leicester Square Theatre, I’m really pumped to check out all the cool tourist spots in London and can’t wait to hit up the comedy clubs. I’m gonna learn a ton and have a blast experiencing the culture!

What brought you to the realm of comedy?
My journey into the world of comedy began in 2007. At that time, Arabic stand-up comedy was virtually non-existent in Egypt. Being known as the funny guy among my friends, I received their enthusiastic encouragement to pursue a professional career in stand-up comedy, and ended up becoming one of the very first Arabic-speaking stand-up comedians. I’m very proud to have been among the pioneering few who started the Egyptian stand-up comedy. The experience has been truly rewarding, and I cherish the role we have played in shaping the landscape of the Egyptian stand-up comedy scene.

Where and when did you last perform in Egypt, and what’s it like to perform there?
As I’m based in Egypt, I frequently perform there. In fact, within a single year, I had the privilege of delivering 48 shows in Cairo, engaging in weekly residency performances that were all met with great success. The venue was consistently sold out, and the energy from the audience was electrifying. It’s an incredible feeling to connect with my fellow Egyptians through laughter and witness the shared joy that comedy brings.

What’s your most memorable heckle?
Honestly, I’ve had my fair share of tough shows as they are part of the game. But one of the shows that sticks out in my mind was when I performed in front of 4,000 people in Alexandria. They weren’t feeling my jokes at all, and they started shouting, “Get off! Get off!. It was like a protest against me! Can you believe it? Remarkably, I persisted and continued to engage them in conversation trying to win them over but things got wild when they started throwing a lot of empty cans at me. That was my cue to gracefully exit the stage! I still have the video of that incident, and I occasionally watch it for a good laugh.

How do you like to relax after a show?
After a show, I don’t have any particular rituals. If I have the energy, I enjoy spending time with my friends, sharing laughter. Alternatively, if I’m feeling tired, I’ll just head home and do my usual everyday stuff to recharge and get ready for the next adventure.

Had you not chosen a career in comedy, what would you have done with your life?
Honestly, it’s hard to picture doing anything else, but if comedy wasn’t in the cards, I’d probably be drawn to some kind of performance art like acting or singing. Show business has always fascinated me, and I’m sure I would’ve found a way to express my creativity in that world.

What’s been the most memorable moment of your comedy career so far?
There have been so many incredible moments in my career. One standout is definitely being one of the pioneering figures in Egyptian stand-up comedy. Another highlight is producing and performing the first-ever Arabic stand-up comedy special in Egypt’s history. The special called “Stand up Masr” which means “Egypt’s Stand up”. The videos of the special have racked up over 90 million views on my YouTube channel. It’s a remarkable accomplishment that I’m really proud of.

Finally, what’s the one thing you want the audience to take away from your show?
Some comedians aim to deliver deep messages or make people think, but for me, I just want the audience to laugh their hearts out. If I can make them forget about their worries and troubles for an hour and go back home with big smiles on their faces, then I consider that the ultimate success.

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