Though recently performing on national television in the UK, Fatiha El-Ghorri could not see past her circumstance five years ago. Living in a shelter for women, Fatiha had been divorced twice. Life had to come to a turning point.
“So, I have been married and divorced twice; one, I ended up in the hospital and the other I ended up in the hostel. I re-evaluated my life and comedy was always something I was thinking about and liked to do.”
“I like performance arts, I like making people laugh and so I enrolled in a course for comedy.”
When the course finished, that was it. I just carried on doing it and here I am now.”
Growing up in a Moroccan household we always tease each other or we’re always joking and there’s a lot of banter because we’re 13 siblings. That’s the Moroccan culture, we are like that. So I’ve grown up with comedy and perhaps that has influence.
And for Fatiha doing comedy provides the perfect opportunity to break down stereotypes; for one, it’s not often you see a Muslim British woman wearing a hijab cracking jokes about divorce.
“Breaking down stereotypes and cracking jokes comes hand-in-hand. I want to make people laugh but I also want to start a narrative and show a different side to Muslim women. But not in a way where I am like, ‘hey, look at me we are the same’ but I want to be me, Fatiha who is a Muslim, Moroccan, a North African Arab female comedian and hijabi; all of that.”
Using comedy as a tool to dismantle stereotypes is one way she breaks them down and the Muslim community in the diaspora have been welcoming of her outbreaking craft.
“It’s been great. The muslim support has been good from both and female which is nice. I get a lot of messages from female muslims saying it’s so refreshing to see me talk about this stuff and it’s so nice to me to talk about divorce on stage.”
In some Muslim communities, divorce can be a taboo. While Fatiha says it’s not so much of a taboo in Moroccan muslim socety, it is in others.
“So people from those communities will say things like ‘I’m divorced and it makes me feel so much better to hear about it and I get judged a lot’. It’s nice to know.”
For anyone who wants to get into comedy, Faitha has some advice.
“Do a course and then go for it. You have nothing to lose. If you try it and like it, carry on. If you try it and don’t like it, you stop. But until you try you never know.”