Shawn Chidiac: Not Just Another Funny Guy

Shawn Chidiac – Master of Mirth
BY Editors

A well-known comedian in the Arab region, Shawn Chidiac is a poster boy for humour and laughs. Popularly (and hilariously) known as My Parents Are Divorced on Instagram, he is adept at character skits and impersonations. Renowned for his incredible ability to mimic a variety of accents, he has found success in drawing genuine laugh-out-louds with his accurate and reliable portrayal of both people and situations.

Since a young age, Shawn has found the appeal of comedy and the art of making people laugh mesmerizing. He cites his mother as the most resolute and difficult person to get to crack up. Once he managed to pull off said impossible task, he took the decision to turn his passion into his career.

To Shawn, comedy is not just about hilarious punchlines and isolated jokes, but also about narrating compelling and relatable stories that make people laugh, while also allowing them the opportunity to think and introspect. This approach has brought him much success, with his innovative skits perfectly embodying this aspect of the art. He aims to make his viewers tap into locked memories and understandings through their funny bones.

Shawn is wearing Les Benjamins full denim look and his own cowboy hat and santiags

Shawn is wearing Les Benjamins

Shawn is what one would call a maestro of laughs, having had the passion for comedy since a young age. “My dream job was in between comedian and soldier. My only options were the Lebanese military or being a comedian. Both of them are a joke,” he says with a laugh.

Over the years, he has finessed the art of comedy to become one of the most versatile and realistic comedians in the region, developing a creative process that is both rigid and dynamic. “I don’t think – that’s the beauty of it,” he says. “I don’t think, I don’t prepare. I think preparation gives me massive anxiety, so whether it’s like, my comedy shows or it’s creating content, I like to prepare as least (sic) as possible. It’s basically your own mind – like which pocket you put something in. I think we all have different types of pockets.”

A question one often levels at comedians is how they feel when surrounded by people like them, people who are just as funny as they are.

Shawn has been surrounded by many funny people in his life, some even in his family. “I think I grew up with a lot of funny people,” he affirms. “My sister is quite funny, my mom is hilarious, not intentionally (sic). She does dad jokes as a mom, but I guess she’s a single parent, so she had to play both roles, so she got confused, I think. My uncles are hilarious, my cousins are funny, and in my friend group, everyone wanted to always one-up each other. At home, you’re trying to one-up each other. With your friend group, you’re trying to one-up each other. Even teachers at some point would allow me to joke a little more!

Shawn is quick to point out that while he wasn’t necessarily the most hilarious person, he was always involved with people who inspired him to tap into his comedic side. “I don’t think I was the funniest. I just think that I grew up in an environment where everyone was funny, and then I just happened to double down on it and take it as a career path.

These people may have inspired the comedian, but he is keen to highlight the idols of his life. “Dave Chappelle, for sure, hands down,” he says with a smile. “He’s one of my favourite comedians of all time. He has a gift of speaking. I think he’s been given the gift of storytelling. So easy and natural. Russell Peters, for sure. Meeting him was like, I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t speak. He was a big inspiration for me getting into comedy, like a massive inspiration. A lot of my characters are based off what I grew up with from Russell Peters. Bernie Mac – I used to love Bernie Mac and Eddie Murphy.

Shawn also paid tribute to the heroes in his personal life, crediting his mother for inspiring him. “She had her own business, and she was working another job at the same time, while taking care of us. I already saw her juggling the world from when I was a kid. Her brother, my uncle, was a very strong father figure for me growing up. Without him, I’d have been lost in many situations.

It’s like music – you hear the accent and it goes. But most of the time, it’s a tangible experience – it’s someone I’ve met, someone who’s done something in front of me. It’s a big reflection of that. I literally just mirror what I hear. I love hearing accents.” Naturally, for a man with a variety of characters in his arsenal, he is biased towards some. “There are some characters that I just can’t break from,” he says, before proceeding to seamlessly switch into Egyptian and Persian accents. “My favourite, I think, might be Filipino or Indian. I don’t know why, I love them. I love hearing it. It’s such a specific way of speaking. You can never confuse an Indian accent for anything else. It’s very unique.

Shawn makes a living out of making people feel good and light, but he is quick to point out the biggest irony in comedy, coincidentally the one thing that makes him laugh the most. “Depression,” he chuckles, before proceeding to drop a comedic truth bomb.

If you think about it, when you’re in a constant sadness, everything can become funny. So the thing that makes me laugh the most is, in a version of itself, depression, because everything is so compressed with sadness that the smallest crack can leak out with so much joy.

Most people know Shawn from his comical Instagram username ‘myparents_are_divorced‘. Its origin story, according to the comedian, comes from a place of finding humour in the otherwise difficult situation. “I used to make jokes about it all the time,” he admits. “It was funny to me because it didn’t affect me emotionally. I always find something funny that isn’t necessarily supposed to be funny. One of the things was divorce, especially during the early 2000s – if your parents are divorced, don’t mention it. So I found it funny to mention it with my friends, which they obviously didn’t find funny. For some reason, it just became my joke.

There was a New Year’s countdown,” Shawn recalls, “when instead of saying ‘Happy new year!’ I was like, ‘My parents are divorced!’ And it was at that moment I kind of thought this was funny for me. And then I put ‘my parents are divorced’ (on my social media handles) for some reason, and voilà!” He admits that not everyone has found it funny over the years, stressing on the importance of timing and situational awareness in his line of work. “So far, the feedback has been positive,” he says. “But obviously, with comedy, you’re always dancing a very fine line, and it’s very easy to step over the line for someone, and someone else can look at it and be like, ‘He’s not even next to the line!’

According to Shawn, getting people to crack up through the smartphone and in real time are night and day. It’s a transition that has been stressful for him, but one that provides him with a rush like no other.

It’s a different world entirely. It’s such a huge contrast to being behind your screen. There are very few things in life that I think can compare to being on stage trying to humour people. Speaking to people, motivating people – I’m not going to say it’s easier, but it’s very different. So being on stage to make people laugh versus being on-screen to make people laugh are two separate worlds, and I don’t think there will ever be a phase where I get my nerves to fade away. Before every show, I feel like I’m going to throw up, whether it’s 20 people, 30 people, 300 people, 400, 500, 600, that entire range – I’m always nervous, the same level of nervous (sic). So it’s very gut-wrenching, but it’s also the only thing that allows me to remind myself that I have the ability to keep pushing myself to do different things.” However, the fact that he is ultimately doing what he loves – making people laugh – keeps him going and striving to do better. 

Shawn is wearing Les Benjamins

As the age-old saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. Shawn will be the last person to call himself a doctor, but he is more than happy and willing to improve his audience’s health, if you will. Indeed, as he will affirm, he loves to bring people together with his comedy.


TALENT: SHAWN CHIDIAC (@my_parents_are_divorced)

LOCATION: 25 HOURS HOTEL IN DUBAI (@25hourshoteldubai)

PHOTOGRAPHY: Raghe Farah (@raghefarah)