"La Yekthar: Comedy and Commentary on Saudi Arabia," uscpublicdiplomacy.org
Sep 22, 2016
Saudi Arabia is not the first country you think of at the word "comedy." But a YouTube sketch show might be changing that. Led by Fahad Albutairi, the first Saudi comedian to appear professionally onstage in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, La Yekthar (colloquially, "put a lid on it") is a comedy show that touches on socio-political issues within the kingdom, from corruption to unemployment. Despite Saudi Arabia's conservative media environment, La Yekthar has escaped any censorship thus far, and continues to grow in popularity with each monthly episode. The most popular episode drew over five million hits, and the show's success has been slowly but surely changing the comedy landscape. “We got sponsors and signed on Google in Dubai as a partner channel,” says Albutairi, adding that the little project quickly spawned a franchise and gained fans as wide-ranging as the Saudi royal family and Wes Anderson.
La Yekthar is currently one of the most successful Saudi YouTube channels and enjoys a huge following across the region, particularly in Egypt. With the subtitling of the first season in English, it is now reaching more international audiences and promoting an image of Saudi Arabia beyond mainstream media narratives, as well as introducing audiences to the unique brand of Saudi humor. All episodes are currently on YouTube.