Definitely a good bet for Best Egyptian/American Comic in the Caves at this year's Edinburgh Fringe, Maria Shehata is performing a thoroughly enjoyable show called Wisdomless every day at 20.20, "which is about my whimsical move from LA to London for love" she says, "and the realities that followed."
The reality following her Fringe run is that pretty much straight after getting home she'll be heading back out for a couple of nights at the Stockholm Fringe, which looks rather good.
"Then I get to reap all the benefits from all my hard work at these festivals, right?"
A bar called Scarlet and Grey Cafe on Ohio State University's campus. It was an open mic with about 30 comedians on the bill and maybe 10 actual audience members. I had been going to that open mic without signing up for over a year, and the MC was annoyed with me, so he signed me up against my will. I went on after 25 other comedians and for a drunken late-night college crowd, I actually did ok. Not great, but ok.
Favourite show, ever?
Le Gymnase in Paris a few years ago. It was one of the first gigs I ever did in Europe. I have always wanted to go to Paris and I was so excited to be visiting and performing there. The audience was a mix of locals and ex-pats, and it was one of those shows where they're 100% with you, they pick up every little facial expression, and you can do no wrong.
Jongleurs in Birmingham. Just the most awful gig, no one was listening let alone laughing. It was one of my first UK gigs outside of London, I got 12 minutes in and could not see the point in carrying on. One of the other comics in the back said I was trying so hard to get their attention, with my American accent and my female voice, I just sounded like a high-pitched ringing noise to them.
The weirdest gig experience?
In Norway, me and a few other comedians were placed in different apartments while executives from corporations toured the apartment complex. It was the complex's way of promoting their apartments as housing for out-of-town executives. They'd come around in groups to have food, drinks, and I'd be waiting in the wings like a circus performer to entertain them.
Who's the most disagreeable person you've come across in the business?
The options are endless but let's go with... the LA comedy room booker. They ask for a tape even though they're your colleague, and it is just a show at a bar, and it is unpaid. They book two token females or PoC [person of colour] per show to demonstrate they are not just booking one token female or PoC, and after a few months of doing the show, they have someone else book it because they feel "overwhelmed" and then on occasion reappear and make everyone clap for them that they're back.
Is there one routine/gag you loved, that audiences inexplicably didn't?
I have a joke about my mum having a shopping addiction, and my therapist asking me if I've tried to help her with it. And I say, "No, how do you help someone with a shopping addiction? How do you help someone who buys you all the gifts you could ever want? They have to want to help themselves."
What's the biggest difference between gigging in the UK and US?
The size! Doing the road in the US and doing the circuit in the UK are two totally different beasts. Gigging in the US can be an adventure, you book a few gigs and take a road trip with your friends and you'll always be somewhere you've never been before. The UK is like being stuck in one US state and touring the same cities over and over and over again. But UK comics get to branch into Europe, so...
The most memorable review, heckle or post-gig reaction?
"You're very brave." Said by a Palestinian man to me after a gig in Ramallah. And not in the "I wish I could do that!" sort of way, but in a way that suggested I was being harshly judged.
How do you feel about where your career is at, right now?
In a way, I feel like I've started over when I moved to the UK. I am in a new scene, I have to re-establish myself, people don't know who I am yet. But still, I feel like my career is in a great place and things will only get better, if I stop publicly complaining about bookers.