Pranks are popular in the Arab world, and they are often known by the name "Hidden Camera". Egypt is often the best place to pull such stunts, as their people have an unmatched sense of humor in the Arab world. But in most Arab countries, filming such a show might be a risky business. When the Palestinian Authority was first formed and they had a state TV network (but no state), they produced such shows which the public have come to enjoy.
I vividly remember a few of their pranks, like when a guy took his donkey into a barber shop and asked the barber to give his donkey a haircut. Another time, they had an actor dressed like an inmate running around a local prison with handcuffs, asking random strangers to free him from his cuffs. Most people ran away, but one guy grabbed him and refused to let go of him until he had handed him to the police.
However, Al-Aqsa TV, a TV network close to Hamas, has also dabbled in pranks in Gaza where their operation is based. In the video below, the TV hired amateur actors to set up a prank where a would-be suicide bomber walking into a beachside shack carrying a bag, while an undercover actor is pretending to be communicating with other officers about the suspect. The moment the youngster open opens the bag and the undercover agent speaks, all those beachgoers run for their lives. As if Gaza needed any more scares--everyone is already on edge.
Last year I saw a humorous video of a TV crew who was interviewing random young Saudi men in the streets and they had one question for each of them: "What's your Mother's Name"? Most were caught off guard by this question, and the majority refused to answer it. Not because they were afraid someone would be able to hack into their bank account, but because the name of the mother is a taboo as a well guarded secret in that conservative society.
But a random video just surfaced of an attempt to pull a prank on some Saudi poet. They had him in the studio waiting for filming, and the host of the show was next door and had his microphone turned on so the guest could hear him. The show's host was telling his producer that he didn't know the guy, and he did not think the guest was worthy of being on his show. The guest flipped out and a guy had to hold him back, and then at minute 3:43, the guest reaches for his gun and attempts to face the TV host and maybe shoot him. For real, Saudis do not joke around, not even a poet who is supposed to be sensible and sensitive by virtue of his trade. He reached for his gun while on camera--now it makes sense why Saudi Arabia and the United States have a special relationship.
Such shows are often popular during the month of Ramadan. I have to hand it to the Egyptians for making the best practical jokes and having a great sense of humor; the other Arabs have to catch up and just learn to chill.
[hat tip: Kellee Koenig]
Follow Hani Almadhoun on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@hotarabicmusic