Fahad Albutairi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Fahad Albutairi
فهد البتيري
Fahad Albutairi at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Film Festival (cropped).jpeg
Albutairi in 2014
Born (1985-05-12) 12 May 1985 (age 35)
Khobar, Saudi Arabia
MediumStand-up, YouTube, film, television
Alma materUniversity of Texas at Austin
Years active2006–2018 (detained and imprisoned by Saudi authorities)
GenresObservational comedy, Satire, Character comedy, Improvisational comedy
(m. 2014⁠–⁠2018)
(rumoured to have been pressured into divorce by authorities)[1]

Fahad al-Butairi (Arabic: فهد البتيريFáhád al-Butáyry; born 12 May 1985) is a Saudi stand-up comedian, actor, screenwriter and political prisoner. Albutairi became the first comedian to perform on stage professionally in Saudi Arabia and in the GCC, following the relaxation of stringent laws against criticism of certain aspects of Saudi society. He is also one of the most notable YouTube personalities from the country.

In March 2018, he was arrested in Jordan, reportedly "handcuffed, blindfolded and put onto a plane for Saudi Arabia." His wife, women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, is also under arrest.[2][3]

Life and career[edit]

Fahad Albutairi was born in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Albutairi began performing stand-up comedy as a student at the University of Texas at Austin, from which he graduated in December 2007. His first material dealt with his identity as a Saudi foreign student studying in post-9/11 America. He considers his real start to have been at the open mic nights at local comedy clubs in Austin.[4] His debut as a stand-up comedian in the Arab World was on 2 October 2008, opening for Ahmed Ahmed and Maz Jobrani in Bahrain alongside a host of other local comedians as part of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour.[5]

Since then, he has shared the stage with the likes of Gabriel Iglesias, Sebastian Maniscalco, Bobby Lee, Erik Griffin, Dean Edwards, Angelo Tsarouchas, Aron Kader and Dean Obeidallah. Albutairi performs regularly in Saudi Arabia.[6] Although he was initially worried about how audiences in Saudi Arabia might receive stand-up comedy, his first performance in Saudi Arabia was in Riyadh in February 2009, which attracted over 1,200 audience members.[7] On 3 November 2009, Albutairi was chosen out of 65 English-speaking contestants as the winner of the "Be a Part of the Amman Stand-up Comedy Festival 2009" Contest.[8]

On 18 March 2010, Fahad Albutairi took part in Yemen's first-ever stand-up comedy showcase along with fellow Saudi comedians Khalid Khalifa and Ibraheem Alkhairallah and Egyptian-American comedian Ahmed Ahmed.[9] He also took part in the "New Faces of Arab Comedy" showcase at the 2010 New York Arab-American Comedy Festival and was one of the "New Faces" to be chosen for the "Best of the Fest" night of the festival.[10][11]

In March 2013, both The Washington Post and The National named Fahad Albutairi the "Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia."[12][13] Fahad was also chosen to be on the panel of judges for the largest online stand-up comedy competition in the region, "The Kit Kat Comedy Break Show."[14]

On 15 January 2016, Fahad Albutairi performed at the Hollywood Laugh Factory with Maz Jobrani, Tony Rock, Steve Hofstetter and many others. He was the first Saudi professional stand-up comedian to perform at the Laugh Factory.

La Yekthar Show and Telfaz11[edit]

In 2010, Fahad Albutairi has started his own show on YouTube entitled La Yekthar Show, which is a Saudi colloquial term that roughly translates to "put a lid on it." Discussing the fact that his show is created solely for distribution on YouTube, although he initially considered moving to acting on television following the success of his stand-up comedy, Albutairi explained that "the Hollywood dream is not really applicable in the region, especially with mega-networks." According to Albutairi, this is because, "in Saudi Arabia, a lot of stuff is done in-house, the casting, the production, the writing."[15]

He started the YouTube channel with fellow Saudi comedian Ibraheem Alkhairallah, who writes the show with Albutairi, and Saudi directors Ali Kalthami and Alaa Yoosef.[16] So far, it has been one of the fastest growing Saudi Arabian YouTube channels, getting more than 4,000 subscribers in its first month, and reaching one million subscribers in its 3rd season of the show.[17] It is currently one of the most subscribed Saudi channels on YouTube. La Yekthar's most popular video has received over five million views.

In terms of content, Albutairi has explained that the show deals symbolically with some socio-political issues in Saudi Arabia: "Each character kind of represents a socio-political issue." These include corruption, symbolized by "a tall guy who wears a shemagh;" unemployment represented by "a guy who wears a ragged thobe and carries a green folder;" and traffic problems symbolized by "a guy chained to a concrete block, the sort found in road works."

The success of the show has allowed for the foundation of Telfaz11, a network for distributing online entertainment content, and the creation of a spin-off YouTube show entitled Temsa7LY, created entirely for the crocodile puppet character that was first featured on La Yekthar.[18] Temsa7LY now has over 1 million subscribers and over 100 million video views.[19]

Since then, Albutairi has worked on many of the other YouTube channels within the Telfaz11 network, including Khambalah and Folaim. In 2016, Albutairi left the Telfaz11 network and discontinued his work on YouTube to concentrate more on his TV and film career.


Year Title Role Notes
2015 From A to B Yousef 'Jay'
2019 Rashid & Rajab Fahad
2020 A Love Above the Law Writer In development
Year Title Role Notes
2012 Night Shift / شفت الليل Unnamed Shopper Episode: "In a Supermarket Very Very Soon / في سوبر ماركت قريب جداً جداً"
Channel: Rotana Khalijia
2017 American Dad! Bear Grylls (Arabic) Episode: "The Bitchin' Race"
Uncredited voice
2017 CUT Abdulrahman Channel: MBC 1


  1. ^ Nicholas Kristof 2019 "She Wanted to Drive, So Saudi Arabia’s Ruler Imprisoned and Tortured Her" NY Times
  2. ^ ‘Our Hands Can Reach You’: Khashoggi Case Shakes Saudi Dissidents Abroad, by Ben Hubbard, Oct. 8, 2018, New York Times
  3. ^ Saudi Arabia: Reveal Fate of Jamal Khashoggi: Evidence Points to Saudi Responsibility, October 11, 2018, Human Rights Watch
  4. ^ "TEDxAjman - Fahad Al Butairi - Haha. Wait, what?". Retrieved 2013-04-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Kings of Comedy: Stand-up comedy takes centre stage in Bahrain Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine". Jazeera Airways Inflight Magazine. 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2009-10-30.
  6. ^ "Standup comics leave Bahrainis bewitched". Arab News. 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2009-10-30.
  7. ^ "TEDxAjman - Fahad Al Butairi - Haha. Wait, what?". Retrieved 2013-04-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Be a Part of the Amman Stand-up Comedy Festival 2009 Contest Archived 2009-10-27 at the Wayback Machine". www.ascf.jo. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
  9. ^ "Stand-up comedy comes to Yemen Archived 2010-04-12 at the Wayback Machine". Yemen Today. 2010-04-06. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
  10. ^ "'Jerry Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia' stands up in New York". The National. 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
  11. ^ "Performer Bios: Fahad Albutairi Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine". www.arabcomedy.org. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  12. ^ "Video: Meet ‘the Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia’". The Washington Post. 2013-03-27. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
  13. ^ "Fahad Albutairi, the Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia, is back". The National. 2013-03-21. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
  14. ^ "Meet the Judges: Fahad Albutairi Archived 2013-03-10 at the Wayback Machine". www.kitkatcomedybreak.com. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
  15. ^ "TEDxAjman - Fahad Al Butairi - Haha. Wait, what?". Retrieved 2013-04-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ Ritman, Alex. "Fahad Albutairi, the Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia, is Back". The National. Retrieved 2013-04-10. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ YouTube - layektharshow's Channel. YouTube. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  18. ^ Ritman, Alex. "Fahad Albutairi, the Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia, is Back". The National. Retrieved 2013-04-10. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ "YouTube - Temsa7LY's Channel". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-04-10. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]