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‘Weapons of Mass Hilarity’ comedy show fires up again

DUBAI: Born in the UK to a Palestinian father and an Iraqi mother, Jenan Younis is a colorectal surgeon by day and a stand-up comedian by night.

“I think I see creativity as escapism,” Younis told Arab News. “I like being able to switch off and do something completely different and be someone completely different.”

Comedy is just as much a calling for Younis as medicine. From telling jokes in her living room to her childhood friends, she is now the founder of a unique festival called “Weapons of Mass Hilarity,” which began in 2017.

Its seventh iteration will take place between June 2 and 4 in London and will be a showcase for comics of South-West Asian and North African origins, whom Jenan feels are under-represented in Britain’s alternative-comedy scene.

Its seventh iteration will take place between June 2 and 4 in London. (Supplied)

“I’ve been searching online to see if this has been done before and I can’t find anything in the UK, not even in Europe. . . I think this is going to be a first and hopefully not the last,” she said.

The featured comedians will take on a variety of topics, from the personal to the political. “One thing that I used to worry about is that the title’s quite an outdated political reference, but when I think about it, it’s just as relevant now as it was when that expression first came out,” she said.

The upcoming edition will feature Irish-Palestinian and British-Surinamese duo Shirley & Shirley, Egyptian-American entertainer Maria Shehata, Iraqi-Syrian performer and writer Yasmeen Audisho Ghrawi, and Younis. The festival’s founder believes that comedy can help soften the edges when speaking about serious matters, like war and identity.

“That’s something I’m exploring with a new show that I’m writing at the moment: How do you present difficult topics in a way that doesn’t sound like you want to preach your opinion? I think the one thing that I’m trying to do is find those themes in my own personal experiences every day and present that in my comedy,” said Younis. “I think people are much more likely to listen to something if they think it’s a personal story and you can subliminally get your point of view across.”

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