IT MAY BE a first foray into television for Dubai resident Samantha Hamadeh, and on Comedy Central Arabia no less, though you wouldn't think it judging from the positive reaction Ridiculousness Arabia has been notching up since its launch earlier this month.
Co-hosting a Middle East version of US candid camera and prank show Ridiculousness, Samantha's role on only the second piece of original programming upon which the regional Comedy Central has embarked is extensive and, most importantly, spontaneous.
"It's not scripted, so that makes you nervous, but you also don't hold back," Samantha told us after the first show went out. Main host Mohanad Alhattab introduces the amateur clips which have been sent in while Samantha and Khalid Sheriff's job is to react to the submissions as many of us at home are also doing.
"We were hired for our personalities and the way we are," Samantha continued. "We didn't see the videos before. So we filmed real reactions."
Samantha has already shot the 15 episodes in which she appears. It took six days of filming in Madrid over the summer to complete her segment, which meant a breakneck schedule in front of a Spanish audience.
"They understood us," Samantha said about the studio crowd. "Many of them were Moroccan Spanish so spoke Arabic. It was so much fun.
"We had such a good time we would forget there were cameras and the audience was around. It ended up being three friends hanging out."
It has been six years since Samantha moved to Dubai to be close to her brothers. A Lebanese national, she was brought up between Riyad and Beirut during her school years before moving to Los Angeles to attend film school for a year. 2011 heralded a move back to the Middle East.
"When I first got to Dubai I found it very difficult getting into the industry. I'd go to an audition here and I'd hear, 'you're good on camera, but your Arabic is not perfect.'"
Samantha diverted her attention to marketing where she met Comedy Central producers over the course of her work who were looking to launch Ridiculousness.
"I'm a huge fan of the US show and this show's producer saw something different in me. The hosts need to be different.
"Only in Dubai could something like this happen. It's a new city and young and I'm excited to be part of the Comedy Central family."
Where is it?
Comedy Central is on OSN and Ridiculousness Arabia appears on Sunday evenings with re-runs later in the week. It is sandwiched between US programming, which Samantha feels is a dream come true.
"I never thought I'd be on a show between Trevor Noah and John Oliver's," she said. When you're a kid you wish really big, but I never thought I'd be on a show on Comedy Central between two of my favourite comedians."
Like the US version, Samantha's Ridiculousness features guests, although not for each episode. The last show had style icon Maram Zbaeda on the couch, who was suitably outraged by some of the clips. It makes for great TV.
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