Skip to main content

Egyptian troupe revives art of musical sketches

Egyptian troupe Masr al-Qadimah aims to revive the sociopolitical wisdom of musical sketches of the past.
Read in 

Wearing a jilbab and striped cap, Mahmoud Shokoko dominated the 1940s as Egypt’s top comedian. His monologues and sarcastic song lyrics oozed with harsh sociopolitical criticism that hid important messages. His musical sketch on the dangers of drugs, in a monologue called "Hashish," is still considered a reference to Egyptian musical sketches. In memory of Shokoko, on the occasion of his 102nd birthday in 2014, Google created a regional Doodle.

Shokoko monopolized Egypt’s comedy scene until Ismail Yasseen came on the scene in the late 1940s. Unlike the singing and dancing of Shokoko, Yasseen was known as a tragicomic figure. He excelled in monologues that tackled the woes of the middle class. He also carried the art of monologue to the silver screen in famous films such as “Aini Alayna YaAhl al-Fan, YaAini Alayna” ("In Praise of Art Lovers") and “Al-Dunya Di Moutiba” ("This Life is Hard"). 

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.