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About Esther Manito
A rising star in the comedy world, both nationally and internationally, Esther Manito has enjoyed a startling ascent as a performer in the last four years. Thrown in to the fields of writing and stand-up after completing a short writing course at the Camden Comedy Schoolin 2016, a wealth of accolades and rave reviews have followed. These include BBC New Comedy Award nominations four years running and achieving a finalist spot in both the regional Funny Women Awards and So You Think You’re Funny awards in 2017.
In 2018, Esther received the honour of being the first woman comedian to ever perform at the Dubai Opera House as part of the Arts Canteen’s Arabs Are Not Funny night. Manito’s topical, observational comedic style has been praised for its fearless take on what life is like for an Anglo/Lebanese mum of two, her caustic wit often exposing ignorance and racism. After a successful run at the Edinburgh festival in 2018, performing a split show with Ryan Dalton, Esther returned in 2019 for her solo hour debut with Crusade. Manito is also a published author in the satirical collection, Don’t panic I’m Islamic.
WATCH ESTHER MANITO: CRUSADE
Wife, Mother, Arab, British, Muslim…Esther is on a mission to show you what life is like when you can’t meet the expectations of your identity. From battling ridiculous comments online to facing head-on confrontations in person, in this assured and witty debut Esther asks what happens if you decide to reject the role of the Crusader.
Reviews and Awards
2019 Sussex Comedian of the Year
2018 Comedy Store’s King Gong
2018 Natwest Woman of the Year Finalist
2017 Funny Women Awards Regional Finalist
2017 So You Think You’re Funny Finalist
2017 Bath Comedian of the Year Finalist
Arab Woman of the Year Finalist
BBC New Comedy Award 2016-2019
‘Esther Manito: Lebanese British woman, wife, mother, incredible comedian’Edfest
‘Ms Manito is a confident comic with a likeability factor which can do her no harm. Her stage presence and delivery enhance her well written material and it is easy to see why she is doing so well, both nationally and internationally’One4Review
‘Still a relatively new comic, she’s got her wired persona nailed down hard. Manito is a performer with undeniable stage presence’The Scotsman
‘Manito is an engaging and promising comic who will staunchly stand up for what she believes, and that alone makes her an interesting proposition’Chortle
Esther Manito Tickets
Latest information on Esther Manito’s live gigs and shows can be found here
Born to a Geordie mother and Lebanese father in the small town of Saffron Walden in Essex, Manito grew up feeling like a fish out of water and struggling to consolidate what her cultural and racial background meant to her. Her parents moved from Lebanon in the early 80s amid growing tensions between Lebanon and Israel. She reflects that as a teenager she clung to her Lebanese heritage. She tells TheNational.ae; ‘I became really protective of my Dad and obsessed with this side of my identity – “I’ll marry a Lebanese man, I’ll be a practicing Muslim” and so on – I felt the whole shebang. It took a really long time for me to be OK with being British and Lebanese and being really happy I was born here”.
After secondary school, moving to London was a particularly liberating experience for the young Manito, studying a BSC in Politics at London Metropolitan University followed by a Masters in Communications with a special focus on Middle East Media. A few years down the line, however, she found herself at home with two young children, grappling with the challenges of motherhood and the pressure she felt to be ‘fulfilled’ by this new role. She tells Arab News; “It can be a lonely and isolating experience…I had lost a lot of my sense of self”. It was at this point that a friend suggested Manito join her on a six week writing course at London’s Camden Comedy School. Within weeks, she had performed her debut stand-up gig, igniting her writing and comedy career.
One of Esther’s main themes in her shows is championing the idea that Muslim women can be powerful figures. She is confounding the stereotype of Arab women as submissive and oppressed. She discusses these issues of representation in Arab News; “I’m trying to show we are not a culturally subservient race of women and our men are not aggressive and dominant. The culture is misrepresented.” Funny, fresh and original, Manito is exploring what it means to be an Arab Muslim in the UK alongside the traditional role of ‘mother’. Her conversational style humourously tackles prejudice head-on. Meanwhile, she juggles her comedy career with caring for her kids and spent two weeks of the 2019 Edinburgh Festival with both of them in tow. Speaking on the honour of being the first woman comedian to perform at the Dubai Opera House, she tells funnywomen.com; “I do feel honoured that in the future my kids will be able to say “Mum was the first female comic to perform at Dubai opera house…she is so mortifying.”
Get More Esther Manito
Want more of Esther Manito? You’re in luck – her full stand-up comedy special is available to watch on NextUp – a digital comedy club where you can stream instantly over 160 comedy specials from some of the exciting names in comedy. Start watching free, no credit card needed.