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Wed 24 Jul 2019 10:00 AM

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Comedy Central working with Middle East comedy clubs to find emerging stars

A senior Viacom executive said that the company hopes to ramp up its production of stand-up specials in the region

Comedy Central working with Middle East comedy clubs to find emerging stars
Comedy Central Arabia has already conducted open mics and workshops across the UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and has expanded filming of stand-up comedy specials to Jeddah, in addition to the UAE.

Comedy Central Arabia hopes to expand its production of stand-up in the region and is working with local comedy clubs to identify emerging talents, according to Tracey Grant, VP of content and channels for Viacom International Media Networks in the Middle East.

Viacom International is the company that oversees the production, broadcasting and promotion of Viacom brands outside the United States, including Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike and Paramount Channel.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Grant said that Comedy Central’s stand-up specials produced in the region “are just a small scratch on the surface of people that have stories they want to tell.”

“We’re not massively oversaturated. There is an appetite to capture stories and that is what comedy really is. There’s always room for growth,” she added. “Ultimately, there is lots of opportunity and that’s a great thing.”

Emerging talent

Comedy Central Arabia has already conducted open mics and workshops across the UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and has expanded filming of stand-up comedy specials to Jeddah, in addition to the UAE.

As part of its efforts to promote stand-up in the region, Grant said that Comedy Central is increasingly working with local comedy clubs to find emerging comedians and understand the region’s comedy scene.

“One of the integral parts of our strategy is to align with and support the comedy clubs,” she said. “Without comedy clubs, it’s very hard for a Comedy Central to understand the nuances of a region and understand the emerging talent that’s coming up through the region.”

However, Grant said that Comedy Central does not see it as the channel’s duty to help “create” comedians in the region.

“We support the foundations that are already there as much as we can,” she added. “Giving a large stage to those comedians is what we really want to do.”

Additionally, Grant said that Comedy Central is also exploring the possibility of increasing its output of other genres of comedy, including scripted comedy and reality TV.