Lebanese sarcasm: A powerful token of defiance

Lebanese sarcasm, during a revolution or even on mundane days, has the ability to bring together the totality of the Lebanese masses.
by Salma Yassine

9 December 2019 | 15:18

Source: by Annahar

  • by Salma Yassine
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 9 December 2019 | 15:18

(Source: @livelovebeirut)

BEIRUT: Whether sprayed on walls, printed on clothing, scribbled on posters, coiled within Arguileh smoke emanating from the streets, screamed in chants, sang in melodious tunes, or even jubilantly spread in spoken words, Lebanese sarcasm is rendered the emblem of an unconventional way to revolt peacefully.

Sarcasm is bluntly and effortlessly woven within the mundane daily conversations of the Lebanese, wherein Arabized memes and stickers are other forms of colloquial expression they resort to when chatting for instance.

These depictions often reflect tragic realities, such as economic crises and harsh living conditions. They also entail powerful messages intended to be voiced at the ruling class either in a direct or an indirect manner.

Iyad Al Hout, a stand-up comedian, stated that sarcasm can be a very significant tool to ridicule or undermine something or someone in a seemingly polite manner. It can also be a token of defiance, especially when ingrained in a culture that is obsessed with social norms and etiquette.

“Humor is an important tool that subverts and undermines structures of power. One of the reasons power structures work so well is because people fear them, but you can’t fear something that makes you laugh. People can either find clowns funny, or scary, it’s never both. Our society still mostly fears the clowns that are our politicians, but a lot of us comedians are trying to change that perception,” he added.

This expressive tool is perceived to be an escapade from the daily troubles that burden the people in times of difficulty, especially when bombarded with the current revolutionary situation.

One example of this would be the online platforms, such as Sarcasm Beirut and Overheard Beirut that receive submissions and post original and authentic material that reflect the crux of the Lebanese nature. Their content consists of jokes and moments that a plethora of Lebanese people experience.

Even when these platforms fail to make their audience laugh, they merely remain an unconventional and bizarre outlet for a bundle of statements that unifies the nation under the parasol of comedy.

“Despite the troubles that have been clouding Lebanon up until this very moment, we have earned the epithet ‘happiest depressed people,’” the founder of Sarcasm Beirut noted.

This comedic and sarcastic sphere has built a “safe haven,” as the founding team of Overheard Beirut told Annahar, “in the form of a community that welcomes glimpses of people’s realities, those we aim to share with members of the Lebanese society as well as neighboring Arab countries.”

Lebanese sarcasm, during a revolution or even on mundane days, has the ability to bring together the totality of the Lebanese masses. Sarcasm helps the people scatter the untold truth; it helps them deal with that which is expected to be left unsaid.

"Lebanese humor gave us a great advantage during this revolution. Those elements played a pivotal role in its viral spread across the globe. It has, in a way, become our coping mechanism too,” Farrah Khatib, a journalism student, told Annahar.

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