Tuesday, July 19, 2011


A Goodbye to Ambien in Dubai

I look in the mirror one more time to see if I can get away without wearing a bra, and decide it's fine. Then I'm in the back of some sweaty cab that smells like chicken noodle soup, suggesting alternate routes and half-yelling at a cabbie. I need to get to JFK in under an hour. Fuck, why do I always do this?

I don't plan well. I think it's because secretly I hope I miss my flight. Actually, I'm mad I ever have to go anywhere. I got this offer to perform one night in Dubai at the Palladium theater about a month ago. Images of different rap videos flashed through my head: Puffy on a tank in the desert. Kanye in a Range Rover with dunes behind him. Biggie in Bed-Stuy, standing in a sandbox. Plus, my layover is in Istanbul. Scenes from Midnight Express appear in my mind and then I remember how delicious Turkish delight sounded in The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe. Food wins."Yes" I say.

This is a new thing I’m doing. My first instinct is always to say no (which certainly isn't reflected in the number of people I've had sex with). But I was ready for this. I was in the mood to see some shit, to hand someone my passport in a foreign land and feel alive. About three days before I leave, more paperwork comes in. I sign a contract saying that while on stage I won't talk about their political leader. Um, no problem. I don't know who their leader is. Don't talk about religion. Done and done.

Still, it’s a foreign concept to censor my material, and it takes traveling halfway around the world to understand just how oppressive that country can be. It literally and figuratively keeps me up at night, too; in the coming two weeks, I’ll struggle with an Ambien addiction while claiming my independence in a country that treats women as possessions.

First I have to get there. My cab arrives at JFK and I immediately walk to the biz class lounge, putting cheddar wedges and water crackers on my plate the way I think a rich person would. The goal is to match everyone else’s silent snobbery and act like I'm always in these privileged shit holes. I now realize I should have worn a bra. I'm trying to look regal balancing chardonnay, cheese and a laptop and flopping all over the place near children and possible diplomats. I open up my computer after a healthy sip of vino, deciding now will be a good time to Google the places I'm going. This is my normal routine. Like I said, I don’t plan well. I don't look at the weather of my destination until my bags are checked, which has meant borrowing coats in Denver and buying gross bathing suits in Virginia Beach. It’s 120 degrees in Dubai, and apparently I have to cover up all my lady parts. Oh well, too late. Other topics pop up, and the one that catches my eye (other than the indoor ski slope) is the one with the words, "Arrested for Ambien.”

My stomach drops. I specifically Google “Ambien in Dubai.” I discover it's illegal there. Of course it is. Even people who come with their pills in the prescription bottle and a note from their doctor? Jail time. It's a gray area, some people say on the message boards. I am pretty sure “Gray Area” is not a term used in Sharia Law. (I have been following Amanda Knox since day one and she is innocent.) I’d rather not do a real life reenactment of Brokedown Palace. I don't want to be a story people learn from.

Why is this alarming? Amy, don't you know you're not supposed to take Ambien every night? Yes, yes I have heard that. But no one ever told me that if you take it every night and want to get off of it, the withdrawal is comparable to that of heroin.

I started taking this tiny little white guy 11 months ago. I have always struggled with insomnia — well, that's not true. There is no struggle. It always wins. I had just booked my first TV show and broken up with my boyfriend even though I still loved him. Heartbreak + new job = anxiety. I was not sleeping at all. I went to my general practitioner, and as soon as I started talking, the tears came rushing. There I was, spilling my guts to a 60-year-old Polish GP with a bowl haircut the Beatles would be jealous of and an Adam’s apple the size of Wendy Williams’. He keeps handing me tissues. That's what’s great about crying at a doctor’s office. They have all the necessary hardware.

He let me know that his receptionist Talonda says "Men are like buses, one pulls away and another one pulls up.” I laugh picturing the two of them having intimate conversations about love and life. I see a tiny hesitation in the Ambien giving, but he can see I'm in a bad place and hands it over. "Don't get hooked on this stuff." He hands me the prescription. "I won't," I reply, feeling a huge wave of relief knowing I will sleep that night.

The first night I break it in half and take it. Of course, it doesn't occur to me I will be doing this every single night for the next year. I wake up eight hours later — groggy for sure, but ecstatic. Sweet relief. I feel a little out of it on my first day at the show. But cool. I’m already daydreaming about taking the other half of that pill and dozing off early, cuddling up in bed with my newest co-dependent relationship. I think I will just take it for days when I'm filming early in the a.m. I take it every night.

Talonda was right: Men are like buses, and Ambien, my new boyfriend, has pulled right on up. My parents will be happy — he’s white.

In the JFK lounge, just as I realize I won’t be taking my little friend with me overseas, a mother yells at an eight-year-old tap-dancing on America’s Got Talent. “You suck!” I like this lady’s style, so I take a chance: “Excuse me, do you know anyone who has gone cold turkey off Ambien after almost a year?" She laughs at me for a little too long and then says, "You're fucked."

Nine hours, three bad movies, and lots of wine later, we land in Istanbul. I hand my bottle of pills to the flight attendant and ask her to toss them for me. Can I get a witness? I feel like a female, white, entitled Tiny Tim. How will I walk?

During the five-hour layover, I hatch a plan: I will just be tired. I will be really positive with myself. I won't expect to sleep at all, I will just be grateful for the sleep I do get. I am excited to be off this stuff, and I convince myself this is the perfect excuse. But I can't lie, this drug has been good to me. I had no sleepwalking or -eating or hallucinating on it. The only problem was that I was in a constant haze. I didn't feel as sharp as I usually do and wasn't able to access my emotions as readily. It had turned me into a nihilist.

As I'm enjoying a Turkish beer — which, by the way, tastes like beer — I Google "How long until I can sleep after Ambien?" Thousands of postings flash before me. Withdrawal. Withdrawal. This can’t be right. I have seen a million Interventions on A&E. I am not a candidate. It lists the symptoms: sweating, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, stomach cramps, panic attacks, hallucinations, vomiting, tremors, seizures. Again: heroin. There is no going back. I don't sleep on my second flight. I thought I was just going to be a little tired and all of a sudden I'm starring in Trainspotting.

I land in Dubai at 1:30 a.m. It’s 95 degrees, but a cool 95 degrees. It doesn’t look all that different from JFK. I somehow manage to find my driver, who wastes no time. "Is your husband here already?" "No." "Is he meeting you?" I realize this dude needs me to be married. He can't fathom that I would be as old as I am and not be wed. "He's coming tomorrow," I say; let him and my mom have their fantasy for a minute.

I come to discover that in Dubai less than 20 percent of the population are locals, or Emiratis as they are called. Everyone else is an expat. Everything is in English. All the street signs, the television shows, everything. Dubai looks as if it was constructed by a nine-year-old’s erector set — no real rhyme or reason. “We have some extra oil money laying around, lets build a 50 million dollar building… Nah, I don’t really care where it goes. Just build it. People will come.” And they did, for the tax-free living, the exorbitant salaries, the lifestyle.

I learn that following the Global Economic Crisis, a lot of people jumped ship. I notice abandoned cars all over the place with months or years of dust piled on them. This is not a place you are allowed to be in debt. They will throw your ass in jail. The mystic surrounding Dubai seems to be a memory. It doesn’t feel like the exuberant young city people used to talk about, it’s a 30-year-old who hasn’t figured out what he wants to be when he grows up. Which also seems like the type of crowd it draws to live there. It feels like everyone I meet has escaped something or is running from someone. Just like in Key West. It’s a city with a third-world attitude and a first-world face. It's The Twilight Zone. Damn, I knew Kanye filmed “Jesus Walks” in Scottsdale!!

I get to the hotel, which is gorgeous. My suite is huge and lavish. I throw my bag on the bed and look around and realize I've just checked into rehab and it has a bidet. Dubai threw me a surprise intervention in the Turkish Airlines business class lounge and this is my facility. After 11 months on 5 mg of Ambien a night and 24 hours of travelling without sleeping a wink, I sleep. For four hours, but I wake up grateful that it felt like a lot. Maybe withdrawal won't happen to me.

Incorrect. I get in the shower and feel it come on like a monsoon. My head starts to hurt. My hands hurt. I can feel the blood pumping through my veins. Everything aches. I feel sick. I turn off the water and sit down in the empty tub. I feel like I'm dying.

I head out to meet the promoter of the stand-up show feeling like complete garbage. He warns me yet again not to talk about religion, but I’m thrown off by how much he looks like an Ethiopian Chris Rock. I nod. I apologize for my lack of energy and declare I'm getting off a drug. I tell a lot of people about it throughout the week. Anyone who will listen, really. Just like a breakup, in the hopes that just one person will say, "That happened to me, too." Nope, never. Everyone's reaction is the same, they raise their eyebrows and think, Gross.

We’re headed to do promotion on a show called Dubai One. We pick up another comic, my friend Matt from London. I know I won't have to explain my low-energy crackheadiness to Matt. He's the type that wouldn't ask you what was wrong if you were fully crying. Not because he's cruel. He's just oblivious. Perfect.

Dubai One is run and produced in the style of a local morning show — a format any comic is familiar with. The producer is a nice Englishman who is happy to have us. When I ask how he came to live here he mentions alimony and an ex. See: running. Before we go on they are interviewing Mr. Dubai. He won some sort of a competition. "What was your talent?" the Hugh Grant type host asks. To which Mr. Dubai responds by singing, "I'll be your dream, I'll be your wish I'll be your fantasy…”

After a chiropractor discusses the danger of sitting at a desk, we're on. We sit there being interviewed about our careers and the show we're there to promote. I get a tiny kick of adrenaline and am fine on the air. Only physically I mean. I say, "I just took my mom to a soccer game, because I wanted her to see what boundaries looked like." The hosts stare at me waiting for more. This is an example of a moment where ordinarily I would be quick on my feet and think of the perfect thing to say to get a laugh. But all my senses have gotten used to being dulled by the Ambien use. Whatever. I hope I make it to the car before I puke.

After a photo-op with Mr. Dubai, we leave and I get to my room for three more hours of sleep. Up for an hour. Sleep another two. By this time, I am enjoying chills so bad that I am sleeping on both of my arms for warmth, then waking up with both of them asleep. Then I need to pee like never before, but both of my arms are dead to the world. I struggle to pull my underwear off. I catch myself in the mirror. I look like a T-Rex. I feel worse. Feverish, disoriented. Yes that list didn't lie. I do my best to rest before my show that night. I will be doing 45 minutes, NO RELIGION JOKES!

I walk into the Palladium through the back door past six armed guards — not much different than the six guards at the front door. There are about 400 people sitting in a theater that seats 3000. I am led to the greenroom where I am greeted by three local comics — two guys and the host, a very tall gal who is married to one of the shorter comics. She looks like a combination flamenco dancer and Olive Oyl from Popeye. Her husband is a little plump and dressed like fat Joe. The other comedian and I get to talking. Actually he gets to talking, ignoring that I'm on my death bed and trying to write my set list. His name is Omar and he has the facial hair and stature of the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. I am going over jokes and I ask him if he thinks it would be all right to say a couple of them that seem iffy to me. We get to one and he says, “Well I could get away with saying that, but you can't.” I ask why. A huge grin spreads across his face as he announces proudly, "Because I am an Emirati."

What does that mean? Through the rest of my trip, I realize the ugly truth. Here, all men are not created equal. Nowhere are the class lines so distinctly visible than in the UAE. So being an Emirati means privilege and separation. Omar was above the law. The other local comics nod to let me know this is the way it works here, but they don’t comment. The class system in Dubai has been written about ad-nausem, but seeing it up close knocked the wind out of me. Especially when it came to comedy.

Comedy is supposed to be pure — you are either funny or you’re not. The stage is a place where class lines don’t exist. So I thought. I felt icky about my material being censored for a live show. But hearing that some comics are allowed to broach certain subjects and others aren’t was sickening. To add insult to injury, this guy had only been doing stand-up a year. But he got to walk around with a chip on his shoulder because he has his daddy’s blood. At breakfast one morning I saw an Emirati man scream at a Filipino waitress for not bringing him orange juice fast enough, and I thought he was going to hit her. Class systems exist in every country in the world, but nowhere is it abused so overtly as Dubai. After watching a local woman dressed in an abaya — the burka head wrap gear and dress — swoop by me at the mall followed closely by her Indonesian maid carrying Gucci bags and simultaneously trying to manage two young Emirati children, I realized the root of Omar’s smugness.

I know all about using an invisible crutch. I threw mine away in Istanbul. But here I was face to face with someone so proud of theirs. But what’s great about comedy is if it’s not funny, people won’t laugh.

And watching him bomb on stage made me smile through my sickness.

The host introduces me, but I don’t hear a word of it. I’m out for blood. I forget about the fact that I feel like the creepy leper from Braveheart and I kill. Flowing from start to finish. The first thing I say when I get on stage is, “If any of this stuff offends you don’t worry, I’m Emirati.” The room explodes. I was supposed to do 45 minutes. I do an hour 15, and I never lose them for a second.

I get off stage and collapse in the back. The withdrawal comes right back like it never left. Omar says “good job.” I look him right in the eye and say, “I know.” I get in bed that night smiling.

The next five days involve going in and out of nausea, shaking from chills and massive headaches. Still, I fit in local activities early in the day. I ride a camel and go dune bashing — where a stranger who says they are a guide drives you out in the middle of the desert, deflates his car tires, and drives like a maniac up and down the dunes until you start scream crying and you beg him to stop. I see the indoor ski slope. I eat the delicious food. I do Dubai. The sleeping gets better, though I’m plagued with anxiety while I lay awake. But a few hours of natural real sleep feels way better than eight of the fake coma Ambien allowed.

My flight home is at 6 a.m., and after being cut in line by several Emiratis, I stay awake during take-off so I can see myself leaving this place. I land at JFK on July 3rd. The following night, I’m standing right by the water on the Upper West Side watching the fireworks, next to my friend, Nikki, a fellow comic. The sky is lit up with the beautiful lights and the ooos and ahhhs from the crowd. There is a stillness and quiet despite all the explosions.

I glance around. A little boy on his dad’s shoulders. A couple holding hands, a woman with a dog in a stroller. We all gaze up silently. I feel the leftover anxiety caused by the Ambien fade, and realize I will be all right. The veil is being lifted. I can feel the breeze off the water on my skin like I haven’t in almost a year. The end of the show is nearing and the fireworks are coming faster and stronger, louder and brighter. Everyone breaks out in applause and me into tears. As the last firework burns out, a girl wearing a bikini top and the shortest denim shorts I’ve ever seen says, “Yo they look like sperm yo.” Nikki and I laugh, though I laugh a little longer. Because she’s right, and because anyone can say anything about whatever they want — and wear a denim diaper in public — no matter where their daddy was born.

Amy Schumer is a New York comedian. She would like to thank Steve Heisler for his help editing.

61 Comments / Post A Comment


I liked this, Amy. Do I google+ +1 all up on this to show love?


Yes, please please integrate the Google +1 button all over The Hairpin so I can mash the hell out of it! Especially on this article.




Amy! I fell in love with her on Last Comic Standing. This is amazing. Write more stuff, plz.


This was so awesome.


This is really beautiful. A pitch-perfect account of what it's like to withdraw from one of our country's many [legal] drugs while maintaining your humor and sense of self. What a great story-- and a very poetic one.


This was great. Thanks for writing.


This was good. Ahh, America - where you can sleep soundly with or without pharmaceuticals, spend yourself into debt with few repercussions (everybody's doing it), and dress like a tramp without fear. USA! USA! USA!


This is exactly why pretty much all prescription drugs scare the crap out of me! I can't imagine the combination of processing a tour of Dubai with Ambien withdrawals, especially that it sounds like something positive actually came out of the oppressive nature of the society. Must be a weird sensation!


"The entire cast of Aladdin?" How casually this woman is racist.


@kimkrypto Yeah, I was wondering why we had to stick in an obligatory "Oh yeah women in veilllllls!" too. Racism: still fun in the Muslim world.


@kimkrypto It boggles the mind, the ignorance and bigotry thrown around so casually above.

Edith Zimmerman

@kimkrypto There was an editing omission, and the piece has been updated -- thanks.


@cherrispryte My favorite is the one where she decides to go to Dubai because Turkish delight sounds delicious. !!! !!!! !!!!! (That is my internet language for raising my eyebrows really high.)

Kevin Knox

@kate.m And of course, a professional comedian would never say something that reductive and oblivious sounding just for effect, so...


@kate.m It was the "country that treats women as possessions" line that I found ridiculous. Whether its "for effect" or not, painting the entire Muslim world with the same brush does no one any favors, and is far more ignorant than it is funny. You're going to, say, Yemen or Afghanistan? Sure, make that joke. But Dubai and the UAE as a whole are so much more progressive.

dracula's ghost

love when she kills onstage! So triumphant!!

David Pinsen@twitter

An entertaining account of your trip (though Steve Heisler missed a few spots, e.g., "armored" guards). Any video available of your set in Dubai?

Edith Zimmerman

@David Pinsen@twitter Oops, that's my bad -- fixed, thanks.


First, I just want to say "word" to people calling out the racism. Aladdin jokes? Sorry but I didn't laugh. Humor is powerful, which is why it's the sort of thing that ought to be wielded against prejudice.

Second, I wanted to note something about the class system, as someone who has lived extensively in the Middle East (Lebanon and Jordan). If there is one complaint most of the Arabs I know have about their own society, it is the importance of "wasta" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasta). I have had soooo many conversations in which my Arab friends bemoan wasta and yearningly speak of the golden and pure meritocracy which is America.

Which usually makes me laugh. Cuz for real - hands in the air if you have a friend or family member to thank for many of your job opportunities here in the good old U. S. of A. I was reading the other day about a study which showed children of doctors are 14% more likely to get into medical school than comparable students who did not have a parent who was a doctor. Just saying, I bet that it has mattered where that girl in the denim diaper's daddy was born. We only seem to forget that when we want to be arrogant about our superiority to another country.

When Amy made the "I'm Emirati" joke, it killed not because Emiratis are terrible, nepotism-loving folk. It was true in that horrible self-deprecating way jokes have, and they appreciated that - as I'm sure did any of the expats who had used an Emirati connection to get official residency before they die.

Having said all of this, I've gotta say I at least find the public acknowledgment of how the system works refreshing. Here in the US we call it "networking", and even then it has smarmy connotations which make a lot of people uncomfortable with all of the relationship building that actually is necessary to make a career.

I mean, this is specific, but I guess that overall I'm just disappointed the author wasn't more bowled over by how alike we all are, rather than what different and barbaric people Emiratis are from her time in another country.

But probably it is kind of like when you watch a movie while miserable on the couch with an epic case of stomach flu - it doesn't matter if the movie is good or bad, you're going to remember it with intense dislike. And everyone else will be like "well what about this beautiful scene? and the snappy dialogue?" and all you will think about is vomit.

But the ambien bits were wicked funny.

Cat named Virtute

@MissMushkila This this this. I was disappointed by where this article went.

Amy Schumer@facebook

Thanks for reading everyone. For the people commenting on my "casual racism" I am offended by that my racism was not meant to be casual but full blown. Hahaha, I kid. There are a lot of jokes here but this is an honest account of what I went through and my experience. I liked a lot of the Arab people I met including some emiratis. But this is what I saw


@Amy Schumer@facebook But would they cut off your ear if they don't like your face?

El Knid

@Amy Schumer@facebook Try dressing up your casual racism with a blazer and ballet flats for a smart day-to-night look.

David Pinsen@twitter

@Amy Schumer@facebook I wasn't offended because you said you were an Emiriti.

Any video of your show in Dubai?


@Amy Schumer@facebook you say that this is not racism because it is what you saw, however, its its not what you saw, but your interpretations of what you saw that make it racist.

I find it interesting that you were annoyed that you couldn't say what you wanted to say. However, in the U.S., the land where you can "wear a denim diaper in public," there are certain subjects you also can't touch upon if you want to continue having a career. For example, Tracy Morgans' comments on homosexuality. The reason the Emirati can make these jokes and it is more acceptable, is because it would be less offensive coming from him. Similar to how a gay person can make gay jokes and it is more acceptable than if it comes from a straight person.

You also cannot make judgements about a country based on one offhand remark and your observations in malls. Needless to say, you didn't try to get to know the real Dubai or to understand the reasoning and motives behind the aspects of its culture you didn't like.

Finally, you mentioned in the fourth paragraph that the country treats women like they're possessions. Where do you back that up with observations in the rest of the article? I honestly do believe that you're just regurgitating stereotypes.


@Amy Schumer@facebook Why do you think that an "honest account" of what you saw would by nature not be racist? Lots of people on this thread are pointing out the issues with your statements. They aren't questioning that you believe what you say. They are questioning the fucked-upness of the statements themselves.

I'm sad that I left Jezebel for this same old bullshit.


Man, if I hear one more Jezebel refugee complain about how sad they are after fleeing from the bosom of the Gawker empire only to discover this isn't their Internet Feminist Paradise I'm going to turn into a giant copper robot with poison eyes and kill everyone. This is not Jezebel 2.0 and you should probably have left, like, two years ago with everyone else. Also, hi! Welcome to the Hairpin. Have a lemon square, they're really good.

Douglas Tatelman@twitter

Way to go Amy, great essay. Just ignore the racism stuff. Can't wait to see you on Redeye again.


This is why you should always wear a bra.

El Knid

I always cringe a bit when I come across writers/humorists I like relating anecdotal accounts of their personal experiences with pharmaceuticals and medicine in general. It's just too easy to forget how little we can generalize from our own private single-subject sub-clinical, un-blinded and un-controlled drug trials. There are too many factors that go into how we feel at any given moment to assume any particular cause from the subjective experience of effects.

I have no doubt that Amy felt like total crap during her time in Dubai, but it's pretty unlikely that her experience had the kind of direct causal relationship with her Ambien cessation that she suggests, unless she left key details out of her account, such as having steadily increased her daily dosage over the 11 months, or having a coincidental dependency on benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium, or other GABAergic substances, including alcohol.

If you Google around for withdrawal symptoms of pretty much any drug, you're guaranteed to find a lot of scary stuff. Most of it, however well intentioned, is pretty misleading. The FDA's threshold for having a potential side-effect listed in connection with a drug is pretty minimal, because the information is intended for the use of doctors, who can put the information in its medical context. In this case, pretty much all of the dire side effects of Ambien cessation that Amy read about have been reported solely in acutely supratherapeutic dosages (i.e. "You were taking HOW much!?) or are suspected to be possible because of Ambien's similarity to benzodiazepines. Even the commonly reported rebound insomnia after the cessation of Ambien has been called into question by studies in which Ambien-accustomed patients whose doses were replaced with placebos barely experienced increased sleeplessness.

Additionally, Ambien has an incredibly short metabolic half-life of ~2 hours. This is partly why it's prescribed for insomnia -- it's out of your system quickly enough that half of your nightly sleep cycles end up being pretty much unaffected. Consequently, it's unlikely it would take 24 hours for abstinence-effects to kick in, so if Amy were at risk for withdrawal symptoms, she'd likely have been experiencing them at the end of every day.

Again, I'm not trying to discount anything Amy felt, only suggesting that it didn't have cause she presumed. A combination of sleeplessness, 24 hours spent breathing dry, recycled in a pressurized cabin, jet-lag, and some real acute anxiety from the expectation of withdrawal is bound to make a person feel like ass. What's worse is that pretty much all of those things aggravate the symptoms of the others. Insufficient sleep, in particular, is being found to have more profound physiological effects than we'd previously suspected -- which is part of the reason that doctors continue to prescribe hypnotics like Ambien as often as they do.

Also, for anyone else out there worried about the possible side effects of forced Ambien abstinence, while it might not help you get to sleep at night, the a glass or two of wine w/ dinner would likely ward off any of the dire-sounding withdrawal effects (which, unless you were taking upwards of 40-50mg a day, you probably won't experience anway) much in the same way that drugs very similar to Ambien are used to prevent or alleviate many of the adverse affects of alcohol withdrawal.


@El Knid This is really interesting and informative and I thank you for posting it!


On the 'Casual Racism'... No one can help what comes into their mind when they are confronted with something they are not used to. I read this article post-Aladdin-edit, so I can only infer what was said, but in my opinion, comedy is one of the best ways out there to call out these biased things that just pop into our heads. Say it, identify it, and move on with your life. Anyone who claims to be 100% politically correct in every thought that pops into their heads is kidding themselves. All you can be accountable for is the way you act and the way you treat people.

Cat named Virtute

@KiraShea The irony of this last sentence is overwhelming. Nobody thinks 100% PC all the time. But people CAN be accountable for writing racist things about the citizens of a foreign country on a public website. Another name for PC is "respecting people who are different from you."


@Marika Pea@twitter Word . . . Not sure "making money off saying every thing that comes into my head, racist or not" is a good example of offering your opinions in order to be called out and educated.


Wonderful short story! Do keep on writing please. I am a writer as well (Spanish) and I just enjoy good writing!


Looooooooooooooove! This was wicked smart, perceptive, perfectly self-aware, and really funny. I can't wait to read more Amy Schumer!

Amy Schumer@facebook

I want that line back in.


Dubai is the Sun City of our time. As an artist and as a woman, why would you ever agree to play to these people on their terms?


-1 making a 25-year-old reference
-5 "these people"
-1 Oppression Olympics

Your score is -7. You win no prizes. But thanks for playing!


this was great, thanks!


As an American living in Dubai, I understand where Amy is coming from. I moved here a year and a half ago and was really surprised at my visceral reactions to things I saw. Especially women in abayas. Although here, they're a status symbol. If you're wearing an abaya or a thobe (the all-white men's national dress), that means you are Emirati and therefore at the top of the class system. (Don't get me wrong - as a white person/American, I'm pretty high up there as well. Wrong? Yes. But that's the truth.) Amy based her opinions on only one week here, and I must admit that mine were exactly the same. You do get away with stuff if you're Emirati. (Although if you ask an Emirati, they feel that white westerners get away with more stuff.) Buildings are built because some sheikh has money and wants to spend it - roads are built around buildings. There's little city planning. People do scream at service workers and maids and nannies. There is a class system - a big one. The hotels are generally stunning. She has it right. Are there good things here? Yes. It's the most diverse place I've ever lived. I get opportunities here I wouldn't get anywhere else. I learned that the version of Islam I learned about in the U.S. is actually wrong. Blah blah blah. But in general? She's right. Am I racist for saying that? Perhaps. Sorry.

On another note, if you bring a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor, you can bring in Ambien to Dubai. I did. And just ran out. I'm bummed.

And another another note... that comedy show was really poorly promoted. No one even know it was happening until after it happened.

Final thought: Amy, I've never seen Last Comic Standing, but I heard you on Carolla's podcast and I think you're awesome. Come back in the winter (if you can stand it). The weather's much nicer.


I'm an expat living abroad in Dubai. This follows in the same vein of so many articles about Dubai written by people who have done the tourist thing. Except this one attempts humor.

First, you can purchase drugs similar to Ambien over the counter at a pharmacy, just like you can other drugs that often require a presciption in the U.S. You can also bring a doctor's note with your prescription and bring it into the country. Side rant: Birth control is available over the counter, at a fraction of the cost it is in the U.S.

You're right about class systems and privilege, but when it comes to Emiratis - it is their country. You are a guest. But yes, there are serious problems here with race, class and politics, which are inexcusable.

"It’s a city with a third-world attitude and a first-world face"

Except the UAE is still part of the developing world, and the majority of Emirati's haven't yet had the access to education or ideas that allows someone like you to write comically or think critically.

But give credit where credit is due. They have opened their country to countless foreigners in ways that other countries in the region have been slow to do. They are fighting to keep their tradition and culture, but join and contribute to the rest of the modern world.

I work side by side with colleagues from over 20 countries. And many of the young Emiratis I work with are lovely people, who are working to improve themselves and their country.


I'm an ex-pat working in the Magic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We go to Dubai for a weekend of debauchery! Imagine how weird I'll be when I come home to the States for a visit over Thanksgiving, "Pass on the turkey, I'll take the chorizo and prosecco instead, please!" Any Hairpin parties in November? I'll bring my abaya as a conversation prop, (it's pretty cute, actually, and a little too sexy for Riyadh, but I'm a daring girl).


Loved this! I'm going to hunt you down on youtube after work...


I started to have a panic account at the thought of facing withdrawels in a strange country. Having been through them when going off prescription meds myself I can't even imagin. I was going off something different but it was so bad I didn't know how I would survive from minute to minute much less function in the world. Oddly enough I was on Ambien for 9 months and went off cold turky but never had any withdrawals. My quack doctor had me addicted to them. He would perscribe the FDA limit but tell me to take more. I would blow thourgh them in a fraction of the time I was supposed to and he would refill them every time. The 'funny' part is that I had all of the side affects-every single one. I would trip like I was on acid, I would sleep walk and call people at 3 am and then demand to know why they called me. (I had just started dating this guy that I really liked, so much for that relationship!) I would drive when I was so out of it I couldn't even stay on the road. It is a mirical that I didn't kill myself or someone else. It also screwed up my thought process and as a result I tried to kill myself by taking the whole bottle. 600mg. The doctors don't know why I didn't die. After that my quack shrink wanted to keep perscribing them for me!! I said no and dumped him as my Dr. I stopped taking them and all meds for many years. But I don't remember any withdrawals and having had withdrawals since then from something else I would remember!! Becareful people. Heed the warnings, "may cause dependancy" should be a big red flag. Getting addicted when you don't even realize it sucks! And I think Ambien is evil. Please be carefull.

Frank Boody@facebook

Though you hear all the hype about people performing actions they can't remember doing after taking ambien, I find that the only time the possibility of this even occurs is if you take the pill and then wait a long amount of time before you get into bed. All in all ambien has been really helped me sleep and I find that anyone who takes the drug responsibly would agree.

Velvet Foster@facebook

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Having said all of this, I've gotta say I at least find the public acknowledgment of how the system works refreshing. Here in the US we call it "networking", and even then it has smarmy connotations which make a lot of people uncomfortable with all of the relationship building that actually is necessary to make a career. snerydning nordsjælland


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Final thought: Amy, I've never seen Last Comic Standing, but I heard you on Carolla's podcast and I think you're awesome. Come back in the winter (if you can stand it). The weather's much nicer. dale buczkowski


Yes, please please integrate the Google +1 button all over The Hairpin so I can mash the hell out of it! Especially on this article.
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Dubai, and apparently I have to cover up all my lady parts. Oh well, too late. Other topics pop up, and the one that catches my eye (other than the indoor ski slope) is the one with the words, "Arrested for Ambien.”Tarot


Dubai, and apparently I have to cover up all my lady parts. Oh well, too late. Other topics pop up, and the one that catches my eye (other than the indoor ski slope) is the one with the words, "Arrested for Ambien.v seattle roofing


New York comedian. She would like to thank Steve Heisler for his help editing. contingency lawyer

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