Hanif Hamgam

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A brief biography/ 2018

December 21, 2018: The Hindu

One of its most treasured celebrities, comedian Hanif Hamgam, is known for ridiculing the powerful in a region where poking fun at warlords is no laughing matter.

Mr. Hamgam’s daily show Zang Khatar (The Dangerous Bell), which aired on Afghanistan’s largest private TV channel Tolo from 2007-2013, was so popular that squadron leaders on the front line against the Taliban would demand televisions so as not to miss an episode.

A need to laugh

The fall of the Taliban and the influx of funds from the international community paved the way for a media surge in Afghanistan.

In a country rife with corruption and battered by war, many turn not to officials or MPs for justice but to the media and satire such as Mr. Hamgam’s.

According to the Afghanistan Media Support Center, NAI, the country now has 100 television channels, 250 radio stations and nearly 200 newspapers, enjoying better freedom of expression than some of its neighbours.

“In many countries, there aren’t many jokes directly targeting senior officials but here almost all our jokes are political,” said Nabi Fakhri, another of Mr. Hamgam’s associates.

Mr. Hamgam spared no one: not the Taliban, American military, politicians or businessmen — even his own boss.

“We would get threatening calls after each show, but we were determined to target them with our comedy,” Mr. Fakhri said. “That is how we tried to solve people’s problems.”

“We need entertainment in Afghan society, we need comedy,” said Shir Khan, comedian on Arezo TV.

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