The first ever U.S. Consulate-sponsored comedy festival in Jerusalem and the West Bank, “1001 Laughs,” was a huge success with more than 1,700 attendees, and seven sold out shows in Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem.
The American Consulate General in Jerusalem brought seven Arab-American comedians from the United States to perform, coach, and inspire. Through stand-up comedy, these comedians not only demonstrated the shared values of freedom of speech and expression – they showed us that humor can be a critical element in our collective efforts to deal with the most difficult subjects. Moreover, five of the seven comedians are Palestinian-American and remind us of the deep cultural ties between the two countries.
These Arab-American comedians not only performed, but coached young Palestinians on acting, performing, and how to use humor to express their convictions and beliefs. They hosted workshops throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem involving more than 370 young Palestinians – even connecting with actors and comedians in Gaza through video conferences.
1001 Laughs Festival took place during the week of August 10th and brought together some of the biggest Arab-American names in comedy including Amr Zaher , Ahmed Ahmed, Said Durrahm, Ramy Youssef, Mona Aburimshan, and Mike Easmeil. They were joined by Palestinian comedians Raneen Bisharat, Ibrahim Sakallah Nidal Badarneh, Ayman Nahhas, Sami Fanous and Rwsan Hallak. U.S. Cultural Attaché Robin Solomon stated in an interview, “These comedians showcase the values shared by Americans and Palestinians to speak freely and expressively, and to find creative outlets to confront and overcome hardship.”
The overwhelming positive response from the 1001 Laughs Festival already has organizers talking about next year’s festival. It represents one part of a series of cultural exchange programs sponsored by the American Consulate General that cement the bonds of understanding and respect between Americans and Palestinians.