2017 Funny Women Awards Regional Finalist and 2017 So You Think You’re Funny finalist Esther Manito has another honour to add to her growing list of accolades, in July the Anglo-Lebanese comedian will be the first woman comedian to perform at the Dubai Opera House as part of Arts Canteen’s Arabs Are Not Funny night. We caught up with Esther before she jetted off to carve a path for women comedians in the United Arab Emirates…
Funny Women: How does it feel to be the first woman to perform comedy at Dubai Opera House?
Esther Manito: I feel excited. I always adapt my material according to my audience, but I love playing to an audience that I know will get my [Arabic] cultural references. I do feel honoured that in the future my kids will be able to say “Mum was the first female comic to perform at Dubai opera house…she is so mortifying.”
FW: Why do you think it’s taken so long (two years) for a female comedian to be booked?
EM: Dubai opera house has only just begun to book these types of events. I am lucky to be working with Arts Canteen. They are so progressive for the Arab community. Aser El Saqqa (the founder) is determined to promote Arab women in comedy. He never hosts a line-up without at least one woman on the bill. He even hosted the first Arab female stand-up night at rich mix cinema, which sold out. Just saying.
I hope after my performance that more women are booked… if I’m hated then I may be responsible for setting women back in the comedy world!
FW: Is Dubai your first gig abroad?
EM: Yes. I used to live in Dubai and if you told me then that I would be coming back as a stand-up comedian I would have told you to jog on.
FW: How would you describe your comedy style?
EM: Angry. I’m taking my frustrations out on stage. I love my family, my kids my husband… but on stage, I get to rant about all the things that drive me crazy. I’m in the centre of my family, but the cultural clashes and gender clashes are something I manage daily, so comedy is an outlet.
FW: How did you get into comedy?
EM: I did a course with a friend when I was on maternity leave with my, at the time seven month old son. I had no intention of doing stand up. It just happened.
FW: Who are your favourite funny women?
EM: Tiff Stevenson- see her show, it really articulates a lot of what’s happening at the moment and Zoe Lyons, love her!
FW: If we don’t happen to be in Dubai next month, where else can we see you perform?
EM: Grow comedy preview of my show But I’ve Got One 14th June
Glee Birmingham 15th June
Hastings palace 16th June