Akmal Saleh (أكمل صالح) (born 1964) is an Australian comedian and actor. He was born in Egypt and arrived in Sydney, Australia with his family in 1975 at the age of 11. He has been performing stand-up comedy since the early 1990s and his live shows have toured comedy festivals both within Australia and internationally. He currently hosts the drive-time radio show The Wrong Way Home with Cal Wilson and Ed Kavalee on Nova, a slot he has held since early 2007. He has also made guest appearances on numerous Australian television shows.
Saleh was 14 when his father died of a disease contracted years earlier when swimming in the Nile River. Searching for something meaningful in his life, Saleh became very religious and joined the Coptic Orthodox Christian church. However, within a few years he says he grew resentful of the religion, finding it "corrupt and hypocritical". Saleh says that when he discovered comedy it "filled the void that religion left", and his disillusionment with Christianity became a subject of comedy in his stand-up routine from early on.
He began performing stand-up comedy in 1990, when he decided to take part in an Open Mike night at the Sydney Comedy Store. Prior to this, he started a number of university degrees and drove a taxi. Saleh is married; his wife, Cate, is a social worker. He has said that they do not intend to have children, a decision he says which is probably influenced by his father's untimely death.
Saleh also performs solo stand-up shows and has toured numerous comedy festivals in both in Australia and internationally. He commonly jokes about his own ethnicity and negative stereotypes regarding Middle Easterners. However, he says that he does not want to become known as an "ethnic comic" and likes to be able to talk about "broad range of stuff". He says that he is most comfortable performing stand-up: "It's the thing that I do best. I'm not a radio guy. I'm a comedian doing radio.
Saleh emerged on Australian radio in January 2007, filling in for Merrick and Rosso on Nova for three weeks during the summer before receiving his own drive-time show. He was initially contracted to co-host the show alongside actor Matthew Newton, but Newton was unexpectedly dropped after news emerged that he was facing assault charges involving a former girlfriend and instead Saleh made a solo debut. The show has since experienced several changes of co-hosts; as of February, 2008, Saleh co-hosts the drive shift with comedians Cal Wilson and Ed Kavalee.
Saleh has appeared on numerous Australian television shows, such as Rove Live, The Footy Show, The Glass House, In Siberia Tonight, Thank God You're Here , Big Questions, Spicks and Specks and Good News Week.
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