June 20, 2015
In 2009 while on tour with Arabs Gone Wild, I booked my first Egypt show. I had grown up watching National Geographic specials about King Tut and the curse of the pyramids so I was super excited. I couldn’t wait to finally see the Sphinx up close and in person. I arrived in Cairo and was whisked straight to a fancy-schmancy five-star hotel. When I walked into my room, I found a beautiful basket of fresh fruit awaiting me. Like Snow White, I grabbed an apple and bit into it. I remember very little about my trip to Cairo after that first bite. I have never been so sick in my entire life. I threw up my own shoes. When I looked in the mirror, my face was actually green. I looked like Kermit the Frog in a Cher wig. The apple was poison. My food poisoning even had a name; the Pharaoh’s Dreaming Death. I believe it is called that because if you have it you dream of dying just so the diarrhea will stop. The hallucinations were the upside of my digestive dilemma.
The show must go on and the next day I headed to The Cairo Cultural Center trying desperately not to vomit on my fellow comedians en route. Cairo is overflowing with people. In my mind they looked like Smurfs and I really enjoyed watching them scurry about. I was determined to find Smurfette, like a Where’s Waldo in Cairo and was annoyed that the other comics refused to help me. They kept insisting there were no Smurfs and begged me to go to the hospital. For obvious reasons I have hated hospitals since the day I was born and I certainly was not going to voluntarily die in one in the third world.
The only time I went outside my bathroom in Egypt was when I walked from the hotel to the car service and from the car service to the theatre. I was only outdoors for a total of ten minutes and still managed to get groped by half of the male population of Cairo. In the end, vengeance was mine. I barfed on one of the creeps who rubbed up on me. Somehow I managed to get on stage and do a coherent set in front of two-thousand people. They were not Smurfs. They were Fraggles and they seemed to be having a fabulous time. We had booked back-to-back shows so I had one more set to do. Between shows I went back to puking. Dean found me shortly before show time, lying in the fetal position on the floor of the dirtiest bathroom I have ever witnessed. The show must go on, so he dragged me up to my feet and I hit the stage for Round Two.
This time there was a very angry Fraggle in the audience. I was doing a joke about Egypt Air, the country’s national airline. The word “air” in Arabic means dick. My joke was questioning why any Middle Eastern Airline would call itself “Air” instead of “Airlines”. Unbeknownst to me the angry Fraggle in the audience was Fayza Abu Naga, the Minister of Tourism and she did not appreciate my blue-collar comedy. She charged the stage and attempted to hit me but two other comics held her back. I was quickly shuffled off the stage and escorted to the airport. The next thing I remember was waking up at Newark Airport still wondering why they chose to name that airline just Air. I never got to see the pyramids and after my dalliance with the Pharaoh’s Dreaming Death, I was also never able to digest meat again.
Shortly after our show, there was a revolution in Egypt and I thought that I would finally get to go back and see the damn pyramids. Unfortunately, the Minister of Tourism survived the revolution, the elections, the ousting of the new leadership, and the new regime, which means no Sphinx for me.