Egyptian Sarcasm Society

by Hamdy El-Gazzar  and translated by Nour Abdelghani  /  April 22, 2013  / 4 Comments

Black humor on the Internet makes free speech go viral

A series of logos for the Asa7be Sarcasm Society based in Egypt. Photo: Asa7be Sarcasm Society via Facebook.

On the streets of Egypt’s low-class urban communities, youth call out to each other, whistling and yelling, “Hey pal” or “Hey buddy.”

It’s natural that these adolescents communicate with their friends in the language of their generation: They use a compassionate call, a welcoming voice, and lend an ear that listens attentively to their friends, hearing their news and future plans.

  1. Off-Screen
  2. “From Egypt” attempts to draw a cultural map of Egypt and the Arab world by profiling the artistic, literary, and political issues that affect the region via on-the-ground coverage of current events, publications, and the fight for freedom of expression.
  3. Hamdy el Gazzar
  4. Hamdy El-Gazzar is an Egyptian writer and one of the 39 young Arab writers included in the Beirut 39 Project. His first novel, Sihr Aswad (Dar Merit, 2005) won the prestigious Sawaris Award, and was subsequently translated by Humphrey Davies (Black Magic, AUC Press, 2007). His second novel, Ladhdhat Sirriyya (Secret Pleasures) was published by Dar al-Dar in 2008. He is currently working on a third novel.

Not surprisingly, this close way of referring to each other has found another home in the public sphere of the Internet and its memes. In this way the internet brings together people who know each other personally and others who have never met, becoming a social and artistic phenomenon in the process.

The first page devoted to dark humor in Egypt is called “Egyptian Sarcasm Society” and it appeared on Facebook in April, 2012. It was founded by two college students, Hossam Hamed from the Faculty of Mass Communication at Cairo University, and his cousin, Mohamed Abdelmoneim, from the Department of Information Technology and Accounting. The page quickly gained popularity among students and the youth of the Revolution and now has three and a half million followers. In interviews with television and newspaper reporters the two students have said that they created the page to reflect on their participation in the Revolution and the political scenario, while adding a new element to the mix: Humor. Thus they came up with a character named The “Brince Atef” (Hey Buddy), the steady icon and the supposed administrator of the page.

On the page “Hey Buddy” and his friends comment on multiple issues in the country using the raw materials of dark humor: Sarcasm and jokes. They take a picture of any public figure and add sharp captions in Photoshop. Depending on the case, these phrases appear in formal Arabic, spoken dialect, or misspelled foreign languages.

Though in a short period of time, around 600 imitations of “Hey Buddy” have appeared on the web, to the extent that viewers cannot distinguish between the original and its replicas. However, this doesn’t matter very much since “Hey Buddy” has become a public Facebook character whose original creator remains anonymous. A group of Moroccan users claim that it’s really a Moroccan character that was stolen by the two Egyptian men. However, perhaps because of the repetitions of these accusations, Hossam Hamed and Mohamed Abdelmoneim will remain free of Bassem Youssef’s scrutiny.

I can’t finish this article without presenting one of the jokes from the Egyptian Sarcasm Society’s page:

A man asks a woman for a photo of herself; she says, “Sure, but give me one of your sister in exchange.”

The devil put his cigarette out and clapped.

About the Author

Hamdy El-Gazzar is an Egyptian writer and one of the 39 young Arab writers included in the Beirut 39 Project. His first novel, Sihr Aswad (Dar Merit, 2005) won the prestigious Sawaris Award, and was subsequently translated by Humphrey Davies (Black Magic, AUC Press, 2007). His second novel, Ladhdhat Sirriyya (Secret Pleasures) was published by Dar al-Dar in 2008. He is currently working on a third novel.

View all articles by Hamdy El-Gazzar

4 Comments on "Egyptian Sarcasm Society"

  1. Ramy April 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm ·

    Hello,

    This article contains misleading and incorrect information. How can we get in contact with the administration? The Asa7be charachter was created on 29th of March 2012 by Amr Alim, a member of ‘Egypt’s Sarcasm Society’ which is a crowd sourced platform founded back in 2009, Asa7be Sarcasm Society was created in the late of April, breaching the intellectual property and created the page using the name, gaining the fame upon ‘Egypt’s Sarcasm Society.’ popularity. Please, either remove this misleading, incorrect article or, if you need the true information, along with clear and obvious evidence, just e-mail me.

    Thank you,
    With all respect,
    Ramy.

  2. Sampsonia Way May 2, 2013 at 10:02 am ·

    Email sent by Dina Helmi.

    Dear Sampsonia Way team,
    I’m contacting you regarding an article published on your website on the 22nd of April, 2012. It’s written by Mr. Hamdy El-Gazzar under the title of Egyptian Sarcasm Society. And here is a link to the article on your website. http://www.sampsoniaway.org/fearless-ink/2013/04/22/egyptian-sarcasm-society-hamdyelgazzar/

    The article contained false, misleading information that require correction.
    For starters:

    “The first page devoted to dark humor in Egypt is called “Egyptian Sarcasm Society” and it appeared on Facebook in April, 2012.”

    This is inaccurate on so many levels. The first page devoted to humor/sarcasm in Egypt is Egypt’s Sarcasm Society. which was founded on February, 2009. There is an obvious difference between the name “Egypt’s Sarcasm Society” and the name “Asa7be Sarcasm Society” and by no means can the be accidentally mixed.

    Another piece of false information is: ” Thus they came up with a character named The “Brince Atef” (Hey Buddy),”

    The character “hey buddy” or “Asa7be” was created by Amr Alim, a member in Egypt’s Sarcasm Society. The illustration originally belongs to a Moroccan series released in 2011. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/bouzebal

    Later on it was used as a meme. A meme which Amr Alim has taken and created a whole new character using it on March 2012. Below are some posts from the page EGypt’s Sarcasm Society dated in March,2012.

    http://https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150642310882919&set=o.153853541340197&type=1&permPage=1

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=424607007554546&set=o.153853541340197&type=1&permPage=1

    Thus, claiming that Hossam Hamed and Mohamed Abdelmoneim are the creators of “Hey Buddy” character is a copyright infringement against the original owners, whether it was the illustrator who drew the meme or Amr Alim who created its character or Egypt’s Sarcasm Society the platform that originally introduced the character.

    I am positive an esteemed magazine like yourself supporting some respectable morals wouldn’t like any sort of deception or misleading information to be presented through it as much as I’m positive you care enough for your credibility to properly correct that mistake of an article.

    Thanks in advance for your time and I hope to read from you as soon as possible.

    Yours,
    Dina Helmi.

  3. Sampsonia Way May 2, 2013 at 10:06 am ·

    Answer by Hamdy El-Gazzar.

    “Egyptian Sarcasm Society”

    I would like to thank Ms Dina Helmy for her comment and valuable information .Many thanks also to Ramy who comment in the column.

    First of all I want to mention that the main idea of the column is to illustrate the phenomena of”ashaby “Hey buddy” in the internet and facebooks pages and its effects. So I did not write an investigation aroun the founder and the creator of the “Hey buddy” character, and I mentioned that there are a bout six hundered pages in the name of Asahby in the internet.

    Secondaly, It is very obvious that the page of http://www.facebook.com/asa7bess?fref=ts
    Is the most popular page in the internet and have more than three and half milions fans, so I mentioned it in my column. I do not know about the page Egypt’s Sarcasm Society. Which Ms Mona said that It was founded on February, 2009 and when I visted it I obseved that it is less popular anypages has Asahby name.Anyway it is not my point.

    Hossam Hamed and his cousin, Mohamed Abdelmoneim gave talks to many newspapers Like Al youm el saba and Masrawy website,and claimed that the character of prince Atef is there owns,and Nobady had claimed that they were lieing , and when I wrote I did not know about Mr Amr Alam, It is not my case here again.

    I mentioned the statement of the Moroccan origin of the character too. My case is very clear ,Please read this again:

    Though in a short period of time, around 600 imitations of “Hey Buddy” have appeared on the web, to the extent that viewers cannot distinguish between the original and its replicas.

    However, this doesn’t matter very much since “Hey Buddy” has become a public Facebook character whose original creator remains anonymous. A group of Moroccan users claim that it’s really a Moroccan character that was stolen by the two Egyptian men. However, perhaps because of the repetitions of these accusations, Hossam Hamed and Mohamed Abdelmoneim will remain free of Bassem Youssef’s scrutiny.

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