My take on the “Searching for Nemer AbouNassar’s Sense of Humor” article

I recently came across this article:

Allow me to differ and share some thoughts:

“Defining, establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women” is very noble. I respect that. I live in Lebanon and I have worked in the HR Department of 2 big group of companies. I know the kind of discrimination, harassment and  violence women have to go through every day. I’m a woman. I’ve been there.

When giving an opinion or attacking a person, it’s useful to spell the name correctly in order to help readers know who is the person concerned. Using an online search engine would not have harmed anyone. As a matter of fact, misspelling someone’s name is nowadays considered an offense since the name is directly linked to the identity of the person. The person I believe is concerned in that article is not “Nemer AbouNassar” but “Nemr Abou Nassar”.

For those who are worried about Nemr’s psychological state, you can rest assured. Nemr is more balanced and mature than many people out there. He is also the most humble artist I’ve ever met: He takes the time to listen and answer to all of his supporters wherever he goes.

Nemr is a stand-up comedian, a person who speaks directly to his audience seeking to entertain by making them laugh. “This might be through jokes or amusing situations, or acting a fool, as in slapstick, or employing prop comedy.” So the ultimate aim, whatever the mean used, is laughter.

Concerning the gender joke, the quote should have been: “Only a woman would be retarded enough to think that there is a difference between a fight and an argument.” What was failed to be noticed is that in this joke Nemr was highlighting the general character differences and reactions between men and women. Well, he is totally right. In general, men and women have different approaches to relationships and they express themselves differently. There are influences by both nature and nurture.

Then after that, is not the number 1 sexist joke. He said: “Chou bi 3arefneh, noss 3a2el djejeh, betkoun jeyeta w 3am betfech khel2a fiyyeh…Trekneh.” People who live/lived in Lebanon,  must have heard it a lot. Nemr here is reflecting a sad reality, that’s how some men react when they are in confrontation or confused by their women. This does not mean that Nemr approves. He is here making fun of the man who can’t have a descent conversation with a woman without falling in the self-defensive aggressive cliché.

Also, many women give themselves the right to be aggressive during their periods. Others, do it without noticing because it’s a hormonal response to which we have no control. Yet, we demand the men to be patient and comprehensive.

Why deny it? Relationships are a two way highways and what works for some might not work for others.

Considering “Shut up, bitch” an offense but not the rest of the curses? That’s selective. Moreover, “Bitch” is commonly used when cursing both women AND men.

Concerning the second quote: “No man should have lips as if you are sucking a dick.” He was here making fun of Jad Choueri. Exaggeration is part comedy.

The part where Nemr defines sexy was completely blotted out, buried, bygone, consigned to oblivion, left behind and obliterated! “Sexy is a man who cares about his woman. Sexy is a man who stands by his woman. Sexy is a man who dies for his woman. Sexy is a man who breathes an lives for his woman. Sexy is a man who comes home to his woman every single night.” This was a love declaration to women! Here, Nemr was making fun of men who spend the day looking at the mirror to shave their chests instead of spending it with their women. Hairy men with a keresh being more manly is considered to be an Arabic stereotype. We also have proverbs in that sense: “Zalameh bala keresh byeswa eresh.”

My point is that there are many types of humor including sarcasm, exaggeration and dark humor. Before making jokes about anyone or anything, Nemr is the type of person who also laughs at himself  (The story about how he got his name: “Chou badna nssami la hal 7ayawen?”, makes jokes about his dad (The story about why he doesn’t come the shows: “Lachou baddeh rou7 o7daro? Ta esma3o 3am byetmanyak 3leyeh?”, his sister (The story about the “I miss u” sms: “How did she write You? One letter U or You?” and the rest of the family (The story about the prostitute aunt, the one about the uncle who kisses too much and the Armenian grandmother who doesn’t cook well.)

Nemr is inspired by life situations whether they happened to him or to others. He could take a regular story, add a few things to it to make it funny.

Nemr will never run out of jokes. “Cheap joke” is a subjective claim. Again, what sounds cheap to you may not to others.

Actually, I’m so upset that this article featured on Sawt Al Niswa. I don’t even understand how a respectful organization could have accepted to have such an article featured on their website.  What gives the writer(s) of the above mentioned article the entitlement to think they are the voice of the women that way? Why not attack the Lebanese actors who impersonate husbands who beat their wives in local sitcoms on TV while at it? Because they are ACTORS… They ACT by impersonating whomever they are supposed to impersonate and act like him.. Does that mean that they ARE the character? Does that mean that they are violent and sexists and etc…? OF COURSE NOT!

I’m really surprised and confused to see how they missed the fact that Nemr was actually doing feminism, gay rights as well as minorities a HUGE favor!

HOW, you ask?

Well simply by making jokes about reality, facts, stereotypes, the everyday life etc..  People realize and laugh at their own stupidity and ignorance. That’s awareness too!

“One Love” is a message of tolerance.

You should be thanking him instead.

Sources:

  • Wikipedia, for the definitions.
  • Nemr Abou Nassar’s Facebook page, for the pictures.

17 thoughts on “My take on the “Searching for Nemer AbouNassar’s Sense of Humor” article

  1. Well said! Instead of the lack of sense of humor and deciding to talk on the behalf of every woman, it would’ve been nice if you appreciate what this man is giving us; “a laugh” that we really need in this country, and be supportive at least, as Rita said, he makes the time to reply to his fans so I don’t think he could be more down to earth.
    I really like what you wrote.

  2. I am a woman, I have watched Nemr’s show live at the Casino du Liban, and I did not feel offended for a second!
    You want equality with men yet you don’t accept jokes about women. Don’t we (women) joke about men? Everyone does! It makes our day!
    If you really want women’s rights and equality than stop relying on the argument of being marginalized and discriminated against (most importantly not through jokes!!!) and focus on more important facts (such as physical abuse against women for example!).

  3. Its called a Comedy Show, U need to get out of the box that U live In & get a life!! Nemr’s jokes were balanced. Since you are a woman activist you should be familiar with whats called; Freedom Of Speech!!

  4. I was the one who originally posted the article on Nemr’s page and got banned, and of course received all the violent comments from Nemr’s “fans”, so I sent him this message which I hope he’ll reply to:

    “Dear Nemr,

    I had no idea you’re the kind of person who bans and silences fans with critical voices just because they have certain remarks on your jokes, and call them haters/scum (and other names). So basically you want your fans to be stupid followers who only send stupid comments like “I loooove you” and “you have balls of steeel” or watever.. ok great, at least Im glad that we’re not friends:)

    But anyways the reason why I am writing you- and I don’t care if you don’t reply or if you send back more hatred- is to say that I was really surprised by the way you reacted to the post on Sawt Al Niswa. First I am not the one who wrote it (I am part of the feminist group of course), but I wanted to share it on the page just to start an interesting discussion dude! Walaw don’t take it personally, and what’s wrong with engaging in discussions with you fans? Even if they have remarks, you should encourage that and not censure them! And in fact, I do like your shows a lot, and I consider you the george carlin of Lebanon! you have great humor and broke many taboos on stage and revolutionized stand-up comedy in the region!

    However, I think -as the article tried to highlight- your jokes on women and homosexuals (and men also of course), even if you mean by it to represent the “sexist” patriarchal society in Lebanon that you disapprove of, you are using the sexism/homophobia to be the center of some of your jokes and thus to perpetuate them even more (they are everywhere anyways), rather than to be sarcastic and critical towards the sexist society and those people, since Lebanese society is sexist and homophobic. But if you were making your shows in a more progressive country, my reaction would’ve been completely different. If you’re familiar with the comedy central (which I adore), Lisa Lampanelli for example became so famous because of her homophobic insults and racist humor, she’s one of my favorites! Perverted sick humor is awesome. But she’s doing it to a liberal western audience, which has moved beyond those outmoded stereotypes that she’s satirizing; unlike Lebanon, one of the least progressive countries in the Arab world on women’s rights issues (and Im not even gona try to go into feminist issues).

    So in a nutshell, I do find your work inspirational, you already are demystifying many stereotypes about Lebanese culture and its hypocrisies, which is great, you are doing social change. but because you have this influence on so many people, bigger responsibility comes. I would love to hear you breaking taboos about the concept of femininity/masculinity and gender roles, and about sexuality (not just sex), and religion, sectarianism, God,… It’s good and easy I would say, to have fans that adore you and agree with everything you make fun of, but it would be a breakthrough (like famous comedians did) to actually challenge entrenched beliefs among your audience, to make them feel uncomfortable, about things they maybe never thought of. This is black comedy, that makes history and social change, rather than reinforcing the existent stereotypes.

    I hope you consider what I said.

    One love.”

    • Although the message is not addressed to me, this is what I think:

      You are accusing a man of being a sexist, homophobe, chauvinist etc… not on a personal blog as a personal opinion, but on a collective’s blog, a collective that is supposed to stand for something, represent people…and you are asking him not to take it personal? Seriously?

      As far as the rest is concerned you have my answer above. (I don’t know if you read it.) If your aim was to engage a discussion, it did not work because simply this was not the way to do it.

      It seems that you have a problem with the way the jokes are presented? You think that our society is not ready for Nemr’s style of jokes? Why didn’t you try to talk it over with Nemr? You could have invited him over your premises shared thoughts and even discussed ways to collaborate. Nemr is actually a fierce defender of all rights (women, gays, lesbian etc..you name it).

      I believe that you have made more damage than good to the cause you represent.
      Well, at least, that’s my opinion.

  5. GIRLL is that hater s…tupid she made me laugh of sadness so hard!!! Stand Up Comedy is laughing about day to day issues that occur all around u in Lebanon, Africa, Zimbabwe, timbaktu… Ma3leh it’s jokes shou badda yi naket nekat “LOL” or “Kalamanji”!!! Nemr feminist hahahaha God she cracked me up if she and other haters have the slightest smart spark in their brains they would realize that all he talks and jokes about in his shows have hidden messages in them they just have to be smart enough to read between the lines! He is shedding light that all those issues exist everywhere in the world and we should put an end to this mentality wherever u live!! Don’t u joke about urself with ur friends etc jokes r influenced from around ur atmosphere! 2eno his job is to create laughs mish jeyeh ya3melna wa3za w leçon de morale ma3leh tshed 7alla shway!! It’s a wa3za if u think of it but in a form of a joke bass ta ma nfout bi depression 3al 2awda3 well situations we live in everyday!!

    I praise u Rita and Nemr u r my savior of laughter hehehehe XOXO

  6. you must have a real mental issue going in ur head! how can u be offended by a joke?!!!

    so you’re into this feminist thing and you’re at ur office and got nothing to do but watch Nemr’s shows and start writing those nonsense blogs against him probably got nothing else to do!! if u really want to defend women, comedy shows or any entertaining shows are not the right place 4 u dear, try to think of another place, a place where women are extremely suffering and abused! those are the ones who need your support, so chill about the jokes, Nemr jokes about himself and all his family and friends and all people including men, women, black people, white people…. no one takes it that personal except those with psychological problems, probably just like you 🙂
    so i suggest you visit a psychologist, or simply change your job, because YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!!!!

  7. @Nisrine
    You state that Lebanon is the least progressive country well go to KSA then that’s 1 and 2 in order to break those stereotypes and whatnot and become liberal such avthe western countries we do have to start somewhere and if it’s through jokes then why not and it’s through words that shed the brutal reality if our country why the hell not those r the true facts that we live in and to overcome them we have to be able to talk about them straight forward without beating behind the bushes! And change should not always have to be done through talking about politics and sectarianism etc…fi Marcel Ghanem and others for that we don’t have to feel depressed when we talk about those issues all the time!

    No religion no politics one love coz they r te ones that create all those conflicts that we face daily.

  8. This is what all comedians do 🙂 they take stereotypes and make fun of them, I know he sounds harsh sometimes, but not really a reason to assume he has psychological issues.

    I would like to add, that maybe rita and I, know nemr in person, this helps us know for sure his jokes are just jokes… perhaps 🙂 trying to be objective here, but if these ladies knew nemr, they’d know how much respect he has for our gender.

    Either ways, I think this is a great example of how social media allows people to voice their opinion, it is her opinion anyway, and Nemr should tackle this, and am sure he will, and he will do it well.

    Nice post Rita.

  9. really well said Rita, and Nissrine you really have no sense of humour! this is a joke for God’s sake, this is what Nemr does, he’s a stand up Comedian if you ever heard of it! and since you can’t handle these kind of jokes then don’t don’t attend a STAND UP COMEDIAN’s show! and I read your comment over here, you say if he said those things in an other country that would be okay? come on girl are you listening to yourself?? Lebanon is considered so conservative and you are making that even worse! our society is trying to have an open minded especially our generation, but again people like you come and destroy everything we’ve been trying to evolve! and of course we, as Nemr Abou Nassar’s fans, are defending him because we really didn’t expect that retarded people still exist in this country.

    peace dear, one love.

  10. @Liliane: Nemr did indeed tackle it with the grace and wit expected.Nemr Abou Nassar says:
    April 23, 2011 at 6:08 pmHello haterZ! So lovely to meeet you all
    Just so you know this is Nemr and I am offended by this article, not because it is full of shit and lies and of course you are all psychotic and insane which is not unusual in the world of haterz, but my name is spelled NEMR not NEMER and abou and nassar are separate, that would be ABOU NASSAR.
    I hope your stupidity can digest all of that if not I will be sure to remind you.
    Everybody reading this please visit http://www.youtube.com/enjoylifeingeneral and check out my videos you’ll love them! Also tune in every Tuesday and Thursday to the Comedy Revolution on Mix FM Lebanon’s number 1 afternoon radio show!
    One Love,
    Haterz fuck off.

    I think this has gone far beyond what was actually in the show. Nemr’s response, and the responses of his fans have been nothing less than offensive and violent. When you are a public persona, you should expect public criticism. Some of it may be fair, some of it not. The way you choose to deal with that criticism speaks volumes. The author actually paid money to see the show in good faith and then outlined why she was disappointed. Others have voiced the same opinion. Instead of engaging her about what seems to be a common perception of his work, he chose the basest, most juvenile attacks as a response, calling her stupid bcs she spelled his name wrong. This could have been an interesting discussion about comedy, performance, and social responsibility. This is what happened instead. What a class act he is.

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