Egypt’s TV show crisis boosts cast member’s profile

 While half of the Egyptians seem to be upset about the suspension of the satirical Egyptian television show “Al Bernameg” hosted by Bassem Youssef, one cast member is acting on the momentum trying to turn the program crisis into a personal win.

Stand up comedian Khalid Mansour, who has been part of the show since season one, is gaining wide publicity these days thanks to his social media efforts and the few statements he made to the press.

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 John Stewart posing with Al-Bernameg’s cast member Khalid Mansour (right). Photo Courtesy of Khalid Mansour’s Instagram 

Mansour’s popularity has been rising thanks to his tweets, which keep the press updated on the program suspension, while providing comfort to the fans who are eager to show support or even critics  who wish to express  discontent .

After the last episode was pulled off the air, the show host, Bassem Youssef, flew to the UAE where he made few cautious statements that did not say much about why the show stopped.  In return, Mansour has been denying and confirming media speculations on the suspension.

The episode, which aired on Oct. 25 mocked Egypt’s President Adly Mansour, and Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, deposed President Mohammed Morsi, in addition to artists and media personalities.

Mansour’s twitter profile  indicates that he is a lawyer, stand up comedian, and voice over artist. Yet, not much else is found on his personal life or career before the show on the internet, except for few YouTube videos of stand up comedy acts he made and an interview he gave with the rest of Al-Bernameg cast to the Egyptian CBS’s Lamies El-Hadidi.

Mansour usually plays different segment characters that supports Youssef’s mocking of Egypt’s political key players including Muslim Brothers and most recently the Egyptian army.

However, Mansour’s most popular segment was his portrayal of Gamheir [the masses], a recurrent female character who recaps the political scene in Egypt through a comical rhetoric of a married woman complaining about her ex-husband to Osama, who in the segment plays the role of  the show host who deals with relationship issues.

 

In reference to the toppled president Mohammad Morsi’s political incompetence, Gamheir, in the last episode, ridiculed her ex-husband’s sexual impotence while praising with vigorous passion her cousin, the officer who helped her divorce her ex. [Watch video of the segment  below]

In one part of the segment, Osama asked Gamheir if she was happy with the new man whom her cousin chose for her, in reference to interim president Adly Mansour. “He is a good man but I prefer someone who can keep my emotions “on fire” like my cousin, the officer” Gamheir replied, in reference to Gen. Al-Sisi.

Gamheir also touched upon the army’s control over Egypt’s successive governments. She tells Osama over the phone, “While many families are known for marrying their daughters to doctors or engineers, women in my family over the past 60 years are known for marrying officers”.

Local media reports claimed that the sexual connotations in Gamhir’s segments, and her mocking of the army were behind CBS’s decision to suspended the show.

Gamheir’s fans have been posting comments on the show’s Facebook page and tweeting Mansour about Gamheir’s “stud” cousin. A twitter hashtag that has Gamheir’s name in Arabic (جماهير#) is still trending by her fans including famous Egyptian actors.

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Egyptian actor Lotfy Labyb tweets about Gamheir

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Talk show hostess Mona el-Chazely is another fan of Gamheir.  

Mansour who is also active on Instagram seems to be putting into practice a golden public relation rule that says: “there is no such thing as bad publicity”.

The reasoning behind such rule is that when people raises a big stink about something they dislike, they are giving it attention, increasing its public recognition and arousing people’s natural curiosity about it. In some cases, depending on how good the PR staff is, the negative publicity could become a positive one especially if few people have heard of you or your brand before the crisis.

In Mansour’s case, those who sharply criticized the show or Gamhier, whether Islamists or army supporters, for crossing some red boundaries, are in a way helping people like Mansour in getting noticed, particularly when the show star, Youssef continues to remain silent on why the show was pulled off the air. The more people talk about the show and its crisis, the more publicity it gains.

Mansour is now the only connection the fans have with the popular show. Many fans especially those outside Egypt, claimed that they only became aware of Mansour’s name after the show was suspended. Before that they knew him as “the actor who played Gamheir”. Headlines in the early days of the show crisis used to refer to him as “The actor who plays Gamhier”, while nowadays, they are using his full name.

While Mansour’s social media efforts are commendable, his “personal branding” project requires that he acts on the momentum and arrange for one-on-one interviews with the media. He also needs to spread some background information about his career and personal life over the Internet. It certainly would not hurt him to create a Wikipedia page under his name or have an official Facebook page.

There is no question that the recent crisis of the show and the absence of  its star has boosted Mansour’s visibility.   Yet this sudden  fame of Mansour could fade away quickly if its not coupled with serious  personal branding effort.  To do so, Mansour, or anyone else in his position, needs to answer to  three key questions : Who needs to know about you?  What need are you best-positioned to fill? And lastly, what differentiates you from others in your field or space?

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