The Wonder Of It All

Today we traveled to see the Egyptian pyramids, the only remaining ancient wonder of the world from the original seven. Our group was traveling from Cairo to Alexandria for our next show and, on the way, we stopped to visit the pyramids.
It was breathtaking to be standing next to ancient history. Of course, many of the locals try to scam you by selling you souvenirs, basically throwing them at you and insisting you take something.
One thing we did partake of was a camel ride. Myself, Ahmed Ahmed and Angelo Tsarouchas each decided to take advantage of the rare opportunity to ride a camel next to an ancient pyramid. Angelo was first and watching it unfold was one of the more memorable experiences of my life, much less the trip.
Angelo is a big guy, as he says “between 325 and 350″. The skinny whip of an Egyptian man prodded Angelo to climb aboard the camel, so he did, thinking he would just sit on the camel for a picture. Angelo had on a native headwrap, as well, adding to the fun. Once Ang was aboard, the camel yet out a yelp like I’ve never heard from any animal as he straightened to a fully upright position.
I should mention that Angelo is one of the most fun, silly, good time guys I’ve ever met so he immediately started laughing; half nervous and half excited. The camel started trotting and Angelo started howling with laughter. He looked like a big kid having the time of his life. He couldn’t believe that he was riding a camel and he continued to laugh the whole time, his whole face lit up.
Myself and Ahmed climbed aboard our camels and followed behind Angelo. Here we were, three comedians; one from New York, one from L.A. and one from Canada, riding camels in Egypt by the pyramids.
Once we got to the top the shakedown began as the local guys who own the camels began asking for money. We each gave them 100 pounds, which amounts to about $30. The Egyptians who were with us were aghast, saying we had been robbed, but to us it was completely worth it, something you couldn’t put a price tag on for those memories.
We went on to Alexandria after that and, due to very heavy traffic, arrived at the venue at 5:55 for a 6pm show. The crowd was filing in when we rushed in towards our dressing rooms. We felt like a rock band, moving en masse with all our equipment and the people working for the tour accompanying us. I felt a strange satisfaction and pride in the fact that we, as comedians, can arrive and flip the switch almost instantaneously.
We all washed up and changed, still pulsing with excitement from our trip to the pyramids, and proceeded to give the wonderful people of Alexandria an incredible show. This was the first live standup show in Alexandria and the crowd couldn’t have been more appreciative and excited.
It was an amazing cap to an amazing week. A week that started in Kuwait, a beautiful land of gracious and hospitable people; they presented each of us with a rare set of Kuwati commemorative coins from the Kuwait government as well as a special commemorative dinar celebrating the second anniversary of Kuwait’s liberation.
Cairo was energetic, hectic, busy, crowded, alive and dizzying. It was like New York on crack. Drivers are truly insane and don’t seem to abide by any rules of the road. Pedestrians walk wherever and whenever they please, even out into speeding, oncoming traffic. And nobody seems to get irritated, either. If a person walks out into traffic the car barely slows down and almost hits them but nobody reacts, it’s all just part of the ebb and flow of Cairo.
But the people are joyous, demonstrative, gracious and incredibly welcoming. Like the Kuwaitis, they treated us like dignitaries the entire trip.
Alexandria was right on the Mediterranean and much less cacaphonous than Cairo; less populated and less whirlwind. Though we only spent an evening there I found the people to be warm, gracious and wonderfully appreciative.
In all of our meet and greets after shows the people were so thankful for our trip to perform in their homelands. The people expressed such sincere gratitude to all of us and asked that we please come back again soon.
Because live standup comedy is in its infancy in this region of the world the crowds are not nearly as nonchalant or cavalier about seeing a show. They are thrilled to be there; attentive, excited and appreciative, start to finish. And I don’t think we had one interruption to a performance the whole week, other than perhaps a baby crying.
In two hours I take a cab to the airport. I am ready to fly back home after a beautiful journey, one that has educated me, buoyed me and nourished me. I am grateful for the incredible experiences I have shared with my fellow comedians and the many wonderful people of Kuwait and Egypt who went so far out of their way to say, in word and deed, “Welcome!” I thank you, one and all.

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