Theater of Cruelty

Can black humor make life easier?

If the people of Gaza breathe in some black humor, it can fuel the belief in change through popular resistance, a Palestinian humor writer believes.


"Some live in tents, others in schools and caravans, while unity and reconstruction may be possible in dreams."
With this sarcastic and popular lyrics, comedian Ayoub sums up the situation of the Palestinians on the Gaza Strip in an 4: 28 minute clip on his YouTube channel.
Ayoub's video clip, which was uploaded in November 2014, uses sarcasm to say something about the situation in Gaza as it is after the 51 days-long war last summer, and after loud promises of reconstruction that have not gone away.
Ayoub is 39 years old and a popular comedian who talks about the people's steadfastness during the Israeli aggression, and wonders if the rewards after such a war should be homelessness and a perpetually postponed reconstruction process. The song states: “People defied the aggression and challenged the bombs of the fighter jets. Why should they be tortured – were they guilty? "
The people of Gaza have long experienced a series of crises: power outages, fuel shortages, border closures, high unemployment and high poverty, as well as hopeless political and economic conditions.
"Comic songs aim to allay citizens' concerns, and urge them to express themselves without restrictions or fear of being arrested because of how they feel about a desperate reality," Ayoub told Ny Tid.

Depression. Actor and screenwriter Ali Abu Yassin believes that the people of Gaza want smiles and laughter after both of them have long shone with their absence. Therefore, there is room for the many artistic attempts to create black humor – which reflect Palestinian reality in a comical way, he believes. "Theater and other art in Gaza often treat material in a very serious way, due to the distinctiveness of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict over decades. But now, tragicomic works are emerging that have no strict form but are a mix of comedy and tragedy, ”says Yassin.
But it is difficult to plan the writing of such works, he believes. When comic pieces come into being, most often it happens on impulse. The impulsive is connected to the fact that everything that can facilitate the artistic creation process is missing. "Comedy and humor need political stability," he says.
"The comedians in Gaza want to make satirical comedy in full swing, and on a more regular basis, but the sad tragedy that dominates in real life, constantly breaks into their work and prevents them from creating the special works of art they want. to present, ”says Yassin.
The general mood in Gaza tends towards depression, despite comedians trying to keep the gloomy reality at bay by creating comic dialogue with them. But the suffering of the afflicted people is always needed.
Filmmaker Mahmoud Zuaiter (28), who also leads the band Tashweesh – "Interference" in Arabic – believes that mocking art depends on the way it is presented, in contrast to the reality of life in Gaza. The young artist believes that humor can lead to change in a country, and believes he has a responsibility to create a dialogue with the audience and present new thoughts and hopes to them.
On YouTube, Zuaiter's band has posted a parody of a truck commercial, in which the Belgian film star Claude Van Damme stands with his legs crossed between two trucks in motion.
In the Gaza version, Zuaiter repeats the feat – this time standing over two KIA cars being pushed across a road in a Palestinian coastal landscape, where chronic fuel shortages make empty tanks commonplace.
The lack of facilities, the lack of recording and editing equipment meant that the band had to rent a video camera to produce the first episode. "The decision to make a second episode in better quality meant that we had to wait four months for equipment in order to impress our viewers," says Zuaiter.

Humor Magazine. Satirical art in Gaza is also available in print: A group of young designers and writers have started the satire magazine Barem – which means "chat" in Arabic – which sheds light on the social and economic situation in Gaza in a sardonic way, characterized by comedy and comic scenarios .
Mohammed Qadadeh is a writer for the magazine, and tells Ny Tid that the idea of ​​making Palestine's first satirical magazine is based on a desire to show aspects of life that are not directly political. "The policy is boring to the people because of the stalemate in the attempts to resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict," Qadadeh believes. The magazine contains short stories that address various crisis situations, such as the crisis with non-payment to 45 public employees in Gaza, the crisis for fishermen and the constant breakdowns in public services. Qadadeh reveals that it all started with the desire to make short animated comedies. "But the cost of these clips was so great that we decided to make a magazine instead," he says. He believes the main challenge for the magazine is to show that sarcasm can attract audiences, and points to the growing number of readers: the magazine is printed in a circulation of 000, and is sold out in just three days. "Our magazine is aimed at young people, since they still have an open mind and are more inclined to believe that the magazine can create change through what is written. Jokes and sarcastic comments abound in Gaza – in the streets, in public places, in cafes, in taxis and in homes. It is part of the youth's own slang ", says Qadadeh. He believes that art is a powerful medium for the dissemination of thoughts and ideas, and that it has a unique ability to spread the ideas around society no matter how conservative the inhabitants of Gaza may be. Qadadeh refers to the American comedian Jon Stewart, who for 3000 years has criticized the reality of the American people in the famous The Daily Show. "Gaza is a source of art as long as the area undergoes constant periods of instability – but art must be developed and led in a direction that provides effective influence, without relying on political solutions – which the PLO lost its grip on after the Oslo agreement for 16 years. since, ”says Qadadeh.
"If my people can breathe a little black humor, it can convince them of the need for change through popular resistance in peaceful demonstrations against Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank, and show the world that they are victims of an eternal conflict among US allies. allies and Iran's allies. The Palestinian people have the right to live like other peoples. "
Difficult living conditions have changed the Palestinians' perception of joy and happiness: they believe joy and happiness are achieved by returning electricity to their homes, opening border crossings so that they can travel again, and gaining regular access to fuel. Happiness in Gaza is still something different from many other places – happiness is the dream and hope for many, and a challenge for the majority of the besieged poor. The dream of joy and happiness is not given up regardless of whether conditions worsen.

Alkabariti is a New Age correspondent in Gaza.


You may also like