Arabic jokes from Ahdam Shi

Ahdam Shi (أهضم شي) is a comedy show on the Lebanese channel MTV. They spend about 2 hours going back and forth telling jokes with a little bit of dancing and music thrown in. I believe that if you can understand comedy in a language then you've mastered the language which is why I watch a lot of comedy shows. Also they're just more entertaining to me than the soap operas that most of Arabic TV is saturated with. A lot of the jokes on Ahdam Shi are rated R and have to do with sex which might be surprising to most people learning Arabic. After all, Arabs are supposed to be very conservative, right? Lebanon is different. At least parts of Lebanon are. That's another reason why I like this show. It's not as stuffy as a lot of Arabic media. Here are two jokes from the most recent airing of the show along with the translation and explanation of some words.

قال مرة, وحدة واقفة على طرف الطريق ناطرة سيارة و ما حدا عم بيوقّفلها. بعد شوي بيوقّفلها شب. بيقلها "فضلي مدموزيل إطلاعي." بتطلع. بيقلها "ليكي. ما تخافي. أنا مهذّب. أنا جنتلمن. أنا كتير محترم. ما تفكريني مثل هول الشباب يللي ما بيوقفو إلا للبنات الحلوين."

Once there was a woman on the side of the road waiting for a car and no one was stopping for her. After a while a young guy stops for her. He says to her, "Please, mademoiselle, get in." She gets in. He tells her, "Look, don't be afraid. I'm polite. I'm a gentleman. I'm very respectable. Don't think that I'm like those guys who don't stop except for pretty girls."

قال مرة - I take this to mean "once" or "one time". Lots of jokes start with this. It literally means "one time he said", but you wouldn't translate it like that.

طرف الطريق - "side of the road"

نطر - "to wait"

راح زلمي فاتح محل بطاطا. إجا لعنده صاحبه. قاله كيفك. قاله ماشي الحال. قاله قديش صارلك فاتح محل هالبطاطا؟ قاله شي 3, 4 سنين والله ما بيع غير بطاطا. قاله احوالك منيحة؟ قاله الحمدلله. قاله معك تديّنلنا شي 500 دولار؟ قاله لا بقدرش. قاله كيف ابتقدرش؟ عم بتقلي احوالك منيحة؟ قاله ايه بس ابقدرش. قاله ليش؟ قاله شفت البنك بالواجهة هنيك؟ قاله ايه. قاله في كونتراكت أنا وياهن. لا أنا بقدر ديّن مصاري و لا هن فيهن يبيعو بطاطا.

A man went and opened a potato store. His friend came to him. He said to him, "How are you?" He said to him, "Fine." He said to him, "How long has it been since you opened this potato store?" He said to him, "About 3 or 4 years. I only sell potatoes." He said to him, "Are you doing well for yourself?" He said to him, "Thank God." He said to him, "You have about $500 you can loan me?" He said to him, "I can't." He said to him, "What do you mean you can't? You're telling me that you're doing well for yourself." He said to him, "Yes, but I can't." He said to him, "Why?" He said to him, "You see that bank across the street there?" He said to him, "Yes." He said to him, "There's a contract I have with them. I can't loan money and they can't sell potatoes."

إجا لعنده صاحبه - "His friend came to him." He says this in a strange way. He doesn't pronounce the إ in إجا

ابقدرش - "I can't." In some places of Lebanon and Syria they will put an ا instead of ما before the verb to negate it. This means the same thing as ما بقدر . Some places also put the ش at the end to negate verbs just as Egyptians do.

واجهة - "face" as in the face of a building or shop.

وياهن - "with them"

مصاري - "money". The way he says it sounds like مشاري.


ley said...

Nice place to improve Syrian Colloquial.. I've been studying Syrian for over 4 months now but when I watch the show it's hard for me sometimes to pick up their words.

Anonymous said...

Hi there!
Thank you for an entertaining and informative Blog. I must say that you are so good and so lucky being able to understand jokes in Arabic (Lebanese). English is not my mother tongue but I am interested in learning foreign languages because it is one of the ways to learn and understand other people culture, tradition and moral values.
Keep it up and thank you once again.

Anonymous said...

as 4 the second video, i think he said jay (جاي) instead of ija (اجا). thats whay he didnt pronouce the alif... what do you think?

Pedestrian said...


coming across this blog was like hitting a goldmine! I've been studying arabic for a while and was looking for just the place to provide explanations on tv shows, expressions, etc.

I had a question. In the first joke the woman is telling, i don't hear her say "بيوقّفلها" in either instance. Does she use a shorter expression?

The Arabic Student said...

Pedestrian, it's there. It sounds like bee wa' if la. The ق is not pronounced since it's Lebanese.

Pedestrian said...

Thanks! Got it this time around :-) My instructor is Egyptian, and I have a hard time discerning what he says :-S Never mind a different dialect all together ...