The act of juggling many tasks or objects simultaneously is a talent few are equipped to handle. Yet there is a special breed of people who not only love it, but also excel at it and in so doing put on a great show! Claude El Khal, or as we have come to call him, The Mad Hatter, is a Lebanese writer, blogger, cartoonist, adman, and filmmaker whose work is as diverse and singular as his character. ArabAd got up, close and personal with him in this revamped 30-second feature.
What first sparked your interest in advertising?
Fido Dido, the cheeky rebellious character used by 7Up. I thought that when I’ll do a Fido ad, I would have succeeded and could happily retire. I imagined that happening after a long and fruitful career. But life has decided otherwise, and it happened much faster than I hoped. I worked on 7UP only one year after I started my career. Then did two Fido Dido films three years later. It was a blessing and a curse. After that, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. So I ended up switching careers and becoming a director.
What gets you up in the morning?
My very annoying neighbours.
What’s your motto in life?
Say what you think and do what you say.
What keeps you up at night?
Can’t tell you, you’re a respectable magazine. But if you insist, I’d say a lonesome but very pleasurable activity. Writing.
What would be your worst nightmare?
Lebanese politicians ruling the world.
What inspires you most?
Everything inspires me. And I mean it literally. Anything I see or hear, anything that happens around me can give me an idea. Ideas are everywhere. Hiding in plain sight. Waiting to be found.
What quality do you most look up to in a woman?
Intelligence. Because it’s the source of everything else: talent, sense of humour, culture, tolerance, broad-mindedness and of course being fabulous in bed. But most importantly, I need a woman I can admire.
Who would you like to sit next to on a seven-hour flight?
The woman I’m about to fall in love with.
What business tip would you give the newbies?
Make as many mistakes as you can as early on as you can. Never indulge in self-satisfaction. Embrace controversy and novelty. If something doesn’t exist, it hasn’t been invented yet.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Sharing ordinary moments with extraordinary people.
Who Are You?
I am... everything I want to be.
I like... everything that triggers my curiosity. I want everything I dreamed about when I was a child.
I have... much more than so many. And I’m very grateful for that.
I wish... for Lebanese to finally grow up.
I hate... hypocrisy.
I fear... being stuck in an elevator with sweaty men talking politics.
I Google... frantically. I wonder if aliens have porn.
I regret... not buying a flat in London when I lived there.
I love... laughing.
I need... to move to a new apartment. One with a view on the mountain and the sea.
If I ruled the world... I’d overthrow myself. No one should be allowed to rule the world. Ever.
I dream... for a living.
Dream Destination: A planet without men, only womewn.
Restaurant: Bergerac in Ashrafieh.
Hotel: Sanderson in London.
Meal: Hommos with olive oil.
Quote: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion” --Albert Camus
Book: “Samarkand” by Amin Maalouf
Movie: “Les enfants du paradis” by Marcel Carné and Jacques Prévert, and all Stanley Kubrick films.
Flower: “Les Fleurs du Mal” by Charles Beaudelaire.
Animal: All of them. I find them fascinating.
Poet: Omar Khayyam and Charles Bukowski.
Music/band: Jazz, Blues and everything derived from them. Well, almost everything.
Heroes: Cyrano de Bergerac.