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RIYADH: Saudis took the stage one by one to poke fun at the world – and themselves – introducing a hissing, cackling audience to an art form widely unknown in the conservative kingdom: stand-up comedy. Chuckles and squeals ran through the crowd at a rare amateur comedy festival last week in the capital Riyadh, organized by the official General Entertainment Authority, the main engine of social reforms sweeping the kingdom.The authority is boosting entertainment options like never before, from a Comic-Con festival to concerts by female musicians, helping shed the kingdom's austere reputation and introducing many Saudis to a new concept – having fun in public.The festival would hardly be unusual if it weren't in Saudi Arabia, typically stereotyped as a nation of stern, unsmiling hard-liners.The festival, a talent-hunt of sorts for Saudi Arabia's own version of "Seinfeld," was a rare attempt to introduce stand-up comedy to the masses in the country.The audience was only mildly amused by cringe-worthy jokes and low-brow humor from some performers.
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