Samir Ghanem: to Make People Laugh is an Art in Itself
Egyptian comedy star Samir Ghanem does not discuss politics, preach morality or satirize customs in his comedies. His themes are always simple and often traditional: humor is the main thing.
"The play, which showcases the disappointments of a popular singer, is the wittiest farce ever," Ghanem told al Ahram Weekly.
"My role is to make people laugh, which is an art in itself," he maintains. "I usually convey a little message through my comedy, but that is never the main point. Once people laugh, I feel I have been successful: that is my message as a comedian."
Ghanem is currently costarring with popular singer Shaaban Abdel Rehim in a musical comedy Do Re Me Fasolia which is based on the French story Le Chanceux.
In contrast, his contribution to film, while not inconsiderable, is more a matter of quantity than quality. He has starred in a plethora of commercial films, most of which have no theme and no plot, and are poorly directed to boot. They simply depend on his popularity and wit to generate laughter.
That, however, is precisely why he regrets none of them: "Because they ultimately made people laugh, which is the most important thing." The cinema, he explains, was already in the doldrums when he began taking on such projects in the late '70s and throughout the '80s. "Film directors had no resources other than the abilities of box- office stars," he points out.
He concedes, however, that while ambition led him into the theatre, it was the need for money that took him into film. His late brother Said was receiving medical treatment for kidney failure in the US, and Ghanem took care of the expenses.
"Anyway, those films were no worse than the sort we have now," he says bluntly. "The only difference is that directors now are young and ambitious; they are qualified and have access to better resources than we had in our time."
He is not giving up, anyway. He is preparing a "new smash hit comedy" for the summer, which, he says, "will bring the house down." This summer, he will also release a new comic film with young actress Nermin al Fiqi. He predicts it will induce "hysterical laughter."
What about television? "TV officials have taken an oath never to let people laugh," he says. After almost a decade of low-key activity, he has returned to the small screen nonetheless, with a comic soap opera, Qutt wa Far Five Stars (Five Star Cat and Mouse), which was released on satellite channels. The series pokes fun at untalented actors who shoot to fame after finding LE1 million. "The series should have been released during Ramadan: look at how tragic the programs were. Every single character died!" Ghanem exclaims. "I guess even the director passed away and didn't notice," he adds, then dissolves into laughter at his joke.
Despite his disenchantment, he is pleased with the success his wife, actress Dalal Abdel Aziz, and their daughter, Donia, had this Ramadan. The holy month marked Donia's debut: she starred with her mother in a series titled Liladala Wugouh Kathira (Justice Has Many Faces). Ghanem is proud of his daughter's performance. "She was gorgeous and is very natural, like me; you don't feel she is acting at all," he boasts. "She also has a very nice voice and I'm sure she will make a good actress." – Albawaba.com
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