Archive for the ‘Stand Up and La Danse Macabre…!’ Category

Hala Wain 3ami by Sardine

Celebrating Halloween in Jordan is no longer legal or so they say!

So I guess the Jordanian government now can move on to solving bigger issues!!!

Ah, well! We always need a little more backwardness with all the progress we are making.

Please note that this is coming from a man who hasn’t worn a costume for Halloween since 1990.

Another please note: This design dates back to 2 – 3 years I just re-modified it after hearing the news about the ban yesterday.

Hala Wain 3ami and welcome to Jordan :-})

Sardine

 

 

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Satan wept and wept.
Death’s scythe through his beloved earth mercilessly swept.

His black crystalline tears tore through the scorched earth upon which he knelt.
All the monsters, hydras, ghouls, djinn and demons, in his realm his anguish felt.

“I have no part in this! Do you hear me? I have no part in this! You have created monsters of your own!” his vociferous voice echoed.

No answer was returned.

Silence prevailed as Death gleefully cut through men, women, and children … young and old.

Satan wept and wept.

Were they tears of joy or sadness?
None dared ask!

When Satan Wept Humanity
by Manuel V. Derida, 1989

Good day all. I wish to thank those of you who still read my words; the words that are not echoing within the corners of this blog as much. It has been a strange year, and in the past few weeks it has become stranger.

The world is burning and one cannot but try to find some sanity through work.

When I have more words to add here you will be the first to know.

For more of Manuel V. Derida’s writings please visit Thoughts from within a Sardine Can Facebook page http://on.fb.me/1mAwzgM

Art: Satan by Mike V. Derderian, pencil and ink on paper, 2014.

 

Nachos of the Living Dead

From the depths of the guacamole dip they rise and they have one thing on their worm filled dead minds:

Your brainzzzzz!

No! This blog post is not sponsored by Doritos ;-})

Consider this an absurdist blog post in an ever increasing absurd world.

Thank you for following and reading my blog  :-})

Mike V. Derderian,
A Homo sapien, a writer, a comic artist and a fierce windmill slayer trying to get a hold of a banana in a world governed by apes ..
Also known as Sardine

Illustration by Sardine

By Mike V. Derderian

If a mouse has the fastest heart rate in the animal kingdom  then I always morph into a furry twitchy creature before a stand up show. I get so nervous that I try not to eat or drink anything.

No, I am not afraid, or lack confidence, as I’ve spent three days working on my material. I don’t memorize. I merely link the keywords that connect my stories and punclines. Wish I had Yousef’s actor’s memory. Yousef Ziad Shweihat, who is with me in our 3al Wagef Comedy Troupe. Our third accomplice is Hamzeh Jabri.

The anxiety doused nervousness has become my stand up comedy pre-show ritual.

For the past few months I’ve been performing at Murphy’s Pub, where I feel comfortable shoving the envelope in the faces of its frequenters as a disgruntled Jordanian, who has an existential-socio-political agenda.

Mind you I said disgruntled because I am one of the many Jordanians who smile at a hot loaf of bread at any bakery in Amman, Jordan, my city, my country.

Now back at Murphy’s [No they haven’t paid me to mention them twice].

A few minutes in the toilet and I am ready to go, after I went of course and fulfilled nature’s call. A comedian with a full bladder is bad karma for himself.

I am now officially ready for my 15 minutes or less (usually 1o), where I will face the eyes of strangers and hopefully receive some of their laughs.

So as I said earlier, for the past two years I’ve been performing stand up comedy part of a local troupe that comprises of Yousef Shweihat, Hamzeh Jabri along with Bassam Alassad, our biggest supporter, semi-for-free-agent and fan since day one.

It is very hard to find people whose humor you understand let alone humor you can work with. I am proud to say that in Hamzeh and Yousef I have found my comedic soul mates.

On April, 28th,  I along with Yousef and two other Jordanian comedians opened for international Comedians Rami Salame and Rehman Akhtar, at The Landmark Hotel.

After the show I realized that I am forever hooked to this mind and psyche breaking practice.

Why would a person want to narrate stories that end with punchlines to a crowd of strangers, who might or might not laugh at his routine?

I have no fuckin clue! Its not the money – at least not at this point. You know what I am lying. I know why I do it. I do it because I love to be heard. I do it because it makes me feel good after a good show. When it doesn’t it makes me feel like crap flushed down a toilet. I do it because I wanted to do it ever since I saw Robin Williams’ Good Morning Vietnam, that also made me end up behind two outdated mics at Radio Jordan’s 96.3 FM for the past six years.

I don’t do stand up on a nightly basis. Amman is a small city and writing material on a daily basis would prove herculean. This is why Yousef, Hamzeh and I decided to hold a monthly show at Murphy’s Pub (third mention – I seriously should ask for money) with new material [from scratch] with every show.

Back to the show at the Landmark. There were familiar faces in the crowd. Of course these faces made me scrap my show’s opener and half of my adult themed jokes. There were freakin babies in the crowd; babies, their momies and daddies and grandparents. Yes, to the discomfort of them all, I rubbed it in their faces big time. As a comedian I had to.

Had three adult themed routines about the art of cuss words. I begrudgingly had to scrap it though when I realized there were old ladies and children. Again why the fuck would you bring children to a stand up comedy show? Why?

Performing in a pub is not like performing in other places. The crowd plays a big role in keeping and discarding bits of your routine.

Still loved every minute of that evening. Some jokes click and some don’t. That’s the equation. It is a trial and error aspect and in our cases, comedians, performance, trial and error.

To the surprise of everyone I decided to do my routine in Arabic. I am known for my stubbornness and insistence on performing in English because I am constantly told: Jordanians don’t get it when it is in English.

Bullshit I say. Anyways that’s cow fodder, God willing, for the next post of So You Faced the Crowd … Then What?

I arrive to a show with a set of lines and stories that I adapt to the faces I see. You try to predict what is the best show opener.

When facing the crowd and hearing the laughs directly you know you did it; you see it in their eyes; you feel it through a tap on the shoulder from someone you don’t know after the show. The laughs are the likes and comments.

So You Faced the Crowd … Then What?

We bid the organizers goodbye and if there were any friendly faces we salute them. We cross our fingers that we get paid on the same night. Usually not the case. Hey you are in the Middle East. They have to give you that extra mile long run after your money.

So after the Landmark show I wished Yousef and his wife Deema, and Hamzeh good night. Every post show night is the same for me. I head home. Best feeling ever: Extremely hyper, the result of the laughs!

“Hey I am taking Rami and Rehman to a place. Want to come?” a comedian asks. I jokingly say while forming a hand gun using my fingers at my forehead, “the Mrs. would kill me! Time to go home for this comedian!”

Heading home I try to remember if the fridge is empty. I head to Abdoun Supermarket where I used to hang out as a kid back in the 80s when the term Street Children was still in use, and you actually ran wild with children in the streets, part of a silly bicycle gang. Nowadays you get a sense that Amman was visited by the Pied Piper.

Abdoun Supermarket now has a new management yet it still feels like the old place that I ran into whenever I could during the hot Amman summers.

Abu Yaqoub the owner fell ill and all his employees left: Some died and some had their legs amputated. Life is a bitch! One mean bitch!

I walk in and greet the clerks, who in turn greet me. Always shop near your home so as to build trust with the supermarket owner. Try it. Whenever you are short on cash they’ll just say, “Later man! Later!”

So I quickly run towards the packed shelves. Pick up a box of local Labaneh, Turkish Labaneh for Nesrin [I am not anti food. I am anti-stupidity and the other stupid human crimes that were committed on the face of the earth for various stupid reasons] and Keri for my little mouse Amie.

Knowing that my grandmother is sleeping over I pick up a small can of Anchovis. I don’t know why but I remember my grandfather used to eat them. I automatically assume my grandmother loves them too.

Picking up a three pack economy Fine tissue boxes and roast turkey I find myself at the cash. “Are we done man!”  “Yes!” with a hyper tone I answer.

On that night I picked up two Amstel beet bottles. I tell the man working there. “Are these cheaper from the cans?” He says no. The cans are 2.25 JDs and the bottles are 1.10 JDs. I take the bottles. My approach to drinking is rather minimal like my illustration. Lots of black line lost in white spaces. Meaning I drink a bottle a month at the best. When I do I make sure I don’t have radio work the following day.

Tomorrow is Friday and I no longer have morning shifts on that day. I constantly use my working at 96.3 FM part of my routine and introduction. Whenever I tell someone that I work there they instantly say, “right! Are they still alive!”

My fingers curl in a fist but instead of throwing a punch I throw a punch-line, “Yep we’re still walking with dinosaurs!” Don’t you just like sensitive people! Idiots! They laugh. Mission accomplished.

The guy at the cash forgets to put the Amstel bottles in a bag. “Hey don’t be fooled by the Pampers! I drink!” I place the beer in a black bag and head home, where my wife experiences my hyper activity first hand by telling me, “Lower your voice!”

I run to my grandmother, Georgette, my mother’s mother, who doesn’t smell of Jasmine like Marajane’s grandmother [read Persepolis]. Mine smells of her. One gentle kiss from her sends me back to my days of innocence that were spent at their home in Damascus.

I tell my wife some of the evening’s highlights and if she smiles it means the joke is still working. The hyper activity stays so I write a little and if I feel like it I illustrate. [I just yawned. My brain wants more but my body is giving in].

Until 3al Wagef’s next show …

And if you’ve reached this far … thank you from a Homo sapien, a writer, a comic artist and a comedian trying to get a hold of a banana in a world governed by apes …

You are a Jordanian if you …

… have eaten Mansaf for lunch on more than one occasion….seven times a week (وبعدين منسف من عند جبري).

… cross a street filled with rushing cars instead of using a crossing bridge or tunnel. [Why did the Jordanian chicken cross the road? Because it doesn’t want to use the crossing bridge or the pedestrian’s tunnel ]

… go out with a girl you met a week ago instead of your male friends of 20 years…oops…sorry this if for the, “YOU ARE A CHEAP ASS ARAB MAN LIST … WHO WOULD SELL THE WORLD FOR A WOMAN!”

… hail a cab on Thursday believing it will stop for you.

… curse the minute you set foot in Shmesani [On a Thursday … Dream on!].

… call a girl a lettuce or a big busty camel…emphasis on Busty.

… buy Al Ghad newspaper just to read and watch Emad Hajaj’s comic.

… got tossed out of a taxi because the taxi driver refuses go to Rainbow Street [The PUSSY – No Sense of Adventure Whatsoever!].

… find 3am Ghafel painstakingly funny.

… you think that the Lebanese dude or duddette working in Amman are occupying a position you think is yours…work for it Asshole.

… are still living with your parents.

… are standing in a wedding where everyone is shooting a firearm like the Loco Mexicans in The Wild Bunch. If you are rich you can do the very same thing using annoying firecrackers and fireworks and with less casualties.

… are only from Karak, Irbid and Al Zarqa. Apparently Ammanites don’t count as Jordanians. Dang!

… think you are the most creative and clever person in the brainstorming session and that your opinion is the only one that matters. Sometimes you are!

… are underpaid.

… owned a Kia Sephia.

… had a lunch combo that consisted of Zaki Juice and Cannary Biscuits because you were short on money.

… laugh at jokes by American, French and German comedians especially with jokes that are followed with the now Lebanese trademarked expletive  ك* اختك.

… used to admire Sadam Hussein but refuse to admit that now after what happened to Iraq. [I know you had his poster on your car’s window … confess].

… are willing to give your ID for a complete stranger to vote for his parliamentary cadidate. Please stop doing that…you are hurting democracy. [Actually you are screwing it big time …].

… sell your vote for Mansaf. [Sometime you give it for free … sorry facts of the democratic life in Jordan].

…you vote for your cousin

… hate this blog post because it is too frank.

… are a disgruntled teenager who is sitting in his room bitching about Tawjihee.

… survived Tawjihee. [Russel Crowe has more chances of doing Gladiator II: The Return than passing Tawjihee].

… sitting with friends and family and all you can do is bitch about how life in Amman sucks. Just shut the f**k-up and go to Dubai…

… still call Radio Jordan 96.3 FM to answer a question – Respects to the best DJs in Town. Seriously. They rock. E7em At least they know how to pronounce Faisaly and We7dat on the air unlike one foreign DJ, who should ask how it is spelled correctly before he goes on the air ;-})

… been to Hashem and ate there … Hashem is not for pansies …

… are chatting with a girl in Amman online for seven years and still haven’t met her. What are you waiting for?

… listen to Mohammad Al Wakeel.

… pretend you like Al Wakeel so that the taxi driver wouldn’t give you a hard time. [You actually like Isam Al Omari more like I do].

… shot your wife, sister, cousin, grandmother, aunt and daughter because you got angry over some lame excuse. “I saw her standing with a male.” Best part is that you get away with it you bastard: Seven years in prison and you are out. I hope during that seven years you become someone’s bitch.

… watch Jordan Television because it has re-runs of (العيال كبرت) and (مدرسة المشاغبين) during Eid.

… have any of Me’teb Al Saqar’s or Omar Al Abdalat’s songs as a ring-tone. [Too embarrassed to admit you have Funky Town or Abba’s Dancing Queen as a ring-tone!].

… have seen Al Manahel.

… hear people telling the Awad Burned the Factory and Sold the Land to Buy a Car or a Mobile joke over and over again in social conversations yet laugh your heart out.

… think you can bed a foreign girl the moment you say, “Hi my name is Khaled and…” [actually this one applies to most Arab men].

… want to shot your sister for seeing her with a male friend.

… are walking with a girl, who is probably someone else’ sister, yet you want to shot your sister because you just saw her with another male. Double standards mother fcuker …

… drink to get drunk. P.S: The same applies to those who go back home after drinking like a fish and spend the night throwing up. Savor it you piece of shit! Savor it!

… believe the best holiday destination is Dahab, Sharm El Sheikh and yeah Aqaba.

… only go out on Thursdays. There are six days a week! Why stick to one day?

… go to Amsterdam to try magic mushrooms.

… think smoking pot and getting high is going to make you forget your grim reality. Wake up dude you are still in Amman or just got back from Europe, America, Dubai, Lebanon, Syria… or e7em … Amsterdam.

… think Amstel is the best beer. It is! Heineken my ass! [No I am not on Amstel’s payroll…not yet ;-}) ]

… know what a Fareeda Beer tastes like. Not bad but not as good as Amstel!

…came across a Petra Beer can that read … The Authentic taste of Petra. Didn’t know Petra actually tasted like beer. I always thought it tasted like dusty rose-colored stones.

… are a member of a secret society whose members like to refer to your sister’s vagina every time they see you! [Don’t ask!]

… never would contemplate visiting the opening of an art exhibition unless you were invited by a girl.

… your father tells you that he has you when you ask for a dog or a kitten. [Why should I buy you a cat or a dog when I have the three of you!]

… your mother thinks you are the most handsome and successful man in the world and tells everyone that—while you are there sitting next to her during a wedding or a funeral.  Armenian mothers do that…trust me…they do… [Honey get the magazine that our boy writes for! Love you Mom & Dad!]

… know entire episodes of Adnan wa Lina, Sasuki, Al 7oot Al Abyad, Jonkar, Calimero and Al Ragheef al Ajeeb by heart.

… played football in the streets. Wait here is the punch-line: You either used a real ball or crushed Pepsi cans.

… got beaten up by a guy called Hamodeh because his annoying kid brother told him you are not allowing him to play with you.

… you drive bad [more like an asshole who thinks he/she know how to drive].

… got your driving license through wasta. Sorry meant License to Ill and t3il other drivers and pedestrians.

… told a police officer what tribe branch you come from to get your way out of a ticket. [Saw it with my own eyes].

To be continued … or not …

(Photograph: Mike V. Derderian, Broken Street Sign, Paris Square, 2009)

If you’re not fast, you’re food

I am assuming that you all saw the new Timberland running shoe ad!

If you didn’t here is the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgH0GxRyP5c

Here is my take:

Jim was confident that he was fast enough and that his new pair of Timberland shoes won’t fail him. It was a clear day when he decided to go running in the woods.

Suddenly and out of nowhere a roaring Grizzly bear sprung from behind the bushes, a pack of wolves crawled out of their hidden burrows and wild boars sprung from mud-holes.

Heck even a beaver that was busy building a dam joined in on the chase.

“Oh, damn. I’ve been building this dam forever. Let’s stretch them short legs…wait for me. I want his nuts,” the beaver, whose mother was a squirrel, yelled.

Minutes later it was all over and a cry of pain echoed across the wild.

“Son of a bitch. I didn’t see that stiff leg coming. Should have warmed up…nahhhhhhhhhhhhh…ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” Jim yelled in utmost agony before a bear ripped his head off and ate it.

The snarling wolves disemboweled him, while the boars ate his arms and feet, and the beaver gnawed on what was left of the torn torso and the nuts.

It is not the shoe, or the socks or the aerodynamic shorts…it is how much you warm up before you run.

So obviously the Timberland ad should have been as following:

“If you don’t warm up and stretch…you’re food…”

On a final note:

Jordan’s is devoid of bears and wolves, and we only have wild boars that come from the other side of the fence according to disgruntled farmers in the Jordan Valley.

Ok maybe there are some skinny assed retired Russian circus bears that are kept in Debeen with a starving lion that is fed fruits and vegetables.

Misleading بس في عنا ضباع جربة فخذلك هالإعلان شو انو

If they used Hyenas I would have believed the ad and bought the shoe….

(For more go to my comedy group, or stay here, The Loco Local: Jordanian Stand Up in English & Swahili: http://www.facebook.com/inbox/readmessage.php?t=1166697733038&f=1&e=-12#/group.php?gid=32018417138&ref=ts)

Escape from Shmesani

May, 27, 2009

The following was inspired after standing under the sun in Shmesani for half an hour. Shmesani is the one place that I truly and most emphatically abhor in Jordan.

I am afraid that the new detour and ongoing construction plans are not adding to its lackluster charm.

So as you have noticed by now, and again, I love everything about Jordan but Shmesani is the one place that I truly and most emphatically abhor.

Not a single Taxi in sight. It was a waving marathon between over-heated, sweaty and tired citizens, who were unfortunate enough to be in Shmesani.

Flying fingers, curses and verbal abuses were everywhere. All this was happening in the congested area where I stood, with my hands in my pockets.

The abusive words would find their way into the ears of shy maidens pacing the scorching asphalt in search for a ride.

Suddenly, another man approached the spot, where I stood. How dare he stand before me assuming that he can beat me in the waving contest?

“This is my spot you idiot. Move over,” I barked in my dogged mind.

Don’t you wish at such situations that you were allowed to mark your territory the same way an animal would do?

Sniff…Sniff…

Time is running slow and the sun is not getting any colder. Who will wave first for the salvation that comes in colors of yellow and green, and that are driven by men like you and me?

Alas the brigand most probably realized that I was preoccupied with my fussy and over-calculating mind. With all of the above gyrating within my balding head, it was like stealing candy from a baby, or in my case a taxi from an overgrown man.

He waved, he opened the door, sat down, closed the door, and thus escaped the hell hole I call Shmesani.

Dumbstruck I stood there…vanquished. I came and I saw but it was I who got conquered.

Another man who had his hand ready stood next to me. “No. This is not happening. Not again,” I said to myself. After gazing at the man defiantly, I walked as fast as I can to the upper end of the street, where an old man took pity on me and decided to take me where I wanted to go: Out of Shmesani.

As you can see a single idea germinates into a number of ideas. Mind you no Swine or Bird Flu in here; so no need to cover your nose with a Fine tissue.

So here is the second part.

Drum rolls…

John Carpenter’s new movie will be:

Escape from Shemesani

Starring Mike V. Derderian as Snake Bala-Skin (Haya Bala Jeld)*

Here are other John Carpenter, or Hanna Al Najjar, movie titles that I used to describe some of the things that we, Jordanians, have to experience in Amman, Jordan (My Hometown).

Vampires (1998)

Vampires are everywhere in Jordan. Haven’t you guessed? They are the employers, who underpay you and expect you to lick their boots in gratitude because they hired you in the first place. So shut up and be grateful, and, yes, count your blessings.

Escape from L.A. (1996)

Escape from somewhere is on everyone’s mind. But this particular escape is the story of Habib, a young Jordanian, who, and as I write down these words, is still trying to escape from Jordan. Every night Habib experiences wet dreams about going to Dubai. He is so desperate that he announces it through his blog, Watwet and Facebook.

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

I am referring to the mouth of the asshole, above you, who thinks he or she knows everything.

Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)

Jordan is filled with invisible men and women. They are the talented people who are overshadowed by the assholes, who know shit about anything but sadly have good PR connections. The French, and Americans quoting the French, would say, “C’est La Vie.” Well, I say C’est La Arab Monde…”

Such men and women become visible thanks to the nepotism and favoritism card. So if you have any don’t keep them up your sleeve….

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Did you ever try to go to a Chinese restaurant here? Jordanians don’t know how weird Chinese Cuisine is. The majority is unaware that they are eating commercial Chinese cuisine.

The Thing (1982)

The Thing is found within us. It is the monster that we all try to hide until an R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) asks for a blood sample. Who are your friends and who are not? You never know.

Escape from New York (1981)

This is the title that started this piece of writing, as I have mentioned in the prologue. Habib, the Jordanian young man that we talked about earlier in Escape from L.A, is still dying to escape from Jordan, and embrace Dubai with what it has to offer. If things get desperate he will go to Zanzibar.

“Must escape…at any cost…” a desperate Habib thinks to himself every night before he goes to bed.

Now why does Habib and many like him want to escape?

Hmm, I wonder.

Taxes from A to Z, preposterous prices, the University support 1 JD tax that they take from your mobile without your permission, very-imaginary apartment and rent prices (literal translation from Arabic), unattainable and over-priced vehicles, brilliant public transportation systems, wonderful career choices and yes, a future-wrecking-thingy called Tawjihee.

The Fog (1980)

Fog is the result of the asshole sitting next to you in a car or at the office. The asshole who is smoking even though there is a sign, the size of his stupid head, hanging over the wall and that reads, “No Smoking.”

Don’t get me wrong I am into the passive smoking aspect of smoking so I really don’t mind. I say, “Why buy a pack of Lucky Strikes when you can inhale the smoke of others?” This method saves money you know.

Someone’s Watching Me! (1978)

We all have that eerie feeling that someone is watching us; and the question that haunts writers and bloggers alike in Jordan is: Will the Jordanian Big Brother read this e-mail or not?

If you have reached this far then this note must have made some sense.

One final note: My roots are so deep in the soil of this country that I never contemplate packing my bag and heading to anywhere.

Have a good day,

A Jordanian Homo sapien, a writer and a comic trying to get a hold of a banana in a world governed by apes.

*The real name of John Carpenter’s protagonist is Snake Plissken.