Funny business is on the forecast for Dubai this weekend. The annual spectacle of sniggers that is the Dubai Comedy Festival is back for its 3rd edition from May 12-21. This third time is set to be full of charms and chuckles and you can catch some world-class stand-up comics performing across the city at a host of venues. Dubai Opera, The Theatre Mall of the Emirates, Coca-Cola Arena, and more locations have made the cut.
The shows this year are a mixed bag of formats, so you can expand your humour horizons. Stand-comedy shows are a given, but you’ll also get to give theatre, improv, variety shows as well as live podcasts a try. Dubai Comedy Festival 2023 also has a good blend of international crowd-pullers who boast specials on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and talented local comics on the up-and-coming who’ve made a name in Dubai comedy club circuits with memorable punchlines and acts. With so much happening, it’s hard to navigate your way through all the acts and decide which ones deserve your attention.
1. Global guffaws
Over the next 10 days, the funniest of the funny from around the globe will have you rolling on the floor in laughter cracking jokes in Hindi, English and Arabic. International comedy stars from every corner of the world, right from UK’s Jimmy Carr, India’s Zakhir Khan & Amit Tandon, Australia’s Jim Jeffries, Lebanon’s John Achkar and the UAE’s Ali Al Sayed will leave you in stitches.
2. Witty women
Ladies lay down the laughs with multiple special acts. American female comics Beth Stelling (‘The Standups’ and writer on popular TV series Crashing) Rachel Feinstein (finalist on Season 7 of Last Comic Standing) and Atsuko Okatsuka (Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch for 2022) team up for a special show at Dubai Opera. After that trio, comedy duo Joanne McNally and Vogue Williams make light of dating, social media and more during their show My Therapist Ghosted Me. Egyptian comedian Ola Roshdy, Palestinian American Muslim comedian and boxer Nina Kharoufeh, Indian comic Saaniya Abbas and a host of others will break the glass ceiling and break out a barrel of laughs at their gigs.
3. Comedy Bizzare
This year, the Dubai Comedy Festival has introduced a special segment called Comedy Bizzare. These intimate comedy club sessions will have regional breakout stars and overseas talents crack up audiences at Paparazzi Tuscan Restaurant in Paramount Hotel. Tickets to the shows can be purchased separately. But ticket holders to shows at MOE and Dubai Opera get free entry to these gigs. Just show your tix at the door. Who’ll be bringing the roof down, you ask? Yash Bhardwaj, Tabarak Razvi, Miqdaad Dohadwala, Brownyn Byrnes, Reem Edan, Simeon Goodson, Natalie Friedman and Mona Aburmishan are just a handful of the 33 comics performing sets. Find tickets here
4. Social media stars
From Tik Tok “youth pastor” Ryan Kelly to Twitter-famous funny woman Abby Govindan, rip-roaring social media sensations are part of Dubai Comedy Festival’s line-up this year. These folks will jump off your phones and under spotlights at a string of shows throughout the 10-day festival. Australian viral hits Sooshi Mango will tickle your funny bone in Coca-Cola Arena with their brand of sketch comedy. Salama Al Qubaisi & Bin Swelah band together with other digital Emirati comics for a show. And Iraqi-American comedian Paul Elia and actor Dave Merheje (from Hulu show Ramy) bring their pandemic-era LowKey Comedy Show from screen to stage.