Entertainment

Keep the clock running like if Anthony Bourdain did TikTok Taxi Travelogues


Karim Rahma, a comedian in New York, jumped in the back of a taxi with two cameramen. One lens focuses on him, the other focuses on the taxi driver. “Take me to your favorite spot,” Rahma instructs the man behind the wheel as a percussion music plays, “and keep the clock running.”

This is the tagline and premise of Rahma’s viral new TikTok series, Keep the clock running. In it, the Egyptian-American comic praises the drivers who eventually took him to restaurants like Papaye, a famous West African and Caribbean in the Bronx; Dera, a Pakistani family venue in Queens; and, on a more bizarre note, Buffalo Wild Wings, the chain with 32 locations across New York state. (Rahma’s driver, Vinnie, insists that the one in College Point, Queens, is the best one.)

As they break bread, Rahma asks drivers questions about how long they’ve been driving and where they’re from, quickly forming a close bond and sifting through the usual gems of insight. . There is an Anthony Bourdain-like quality in his presence. Rahma, who has a thick mustache, curls, and Nolita Garbage Bag–mild aesthetic, always curious, never pretentious and often humorous. At the end of each episode, he pulled out a stack of cash and divided each driver hundreds of dollars—a welcome sight for taxi drivers after the Uber and Lyft siege—and received a generous tip. In a year filled with star-studded shows and big-budget fantasy movies, Keep the clock running, with its warmth, hilarious flourishes, and humanistic humour, has quickly become one of my favorite new shows of 2022.

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The idea was born just before the pandemic, one night when Rahma was taking a long taxi ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn, he said. Vanity Fair. At the time, he was having difficulty in his relationship and started chatting with his driver, who advised and comforted him. The driver also spoke encouragingly, the philosophy reminding Rahma of his late father, who immigrated to the US from Egypt and worked as a taxi driver for 5 years.

“I had a strong connection with his taxi driver,” Rahma recalls speaking to me over Zoom. “He really, really helped me. I was like, This guy knows everything. He knows the secret of the universe.”

At the end of the ride, he asked if they could actually drive a little more. Rahma recalls with a laugh: “He said, ‘I have to charge you’. “I said, ‘Wow, have a good day!’” But the idea stuck, and Rahma found herself typing the phrase “keep the meter running” in her Notes app. He mentioned the idea to a friend who is a producer Adam Faze of entertainment platform Mad Realities, who joined filmmaker and editor Ari Cagan. They immediately went there, collecting camera equipment and cash for gauges.

The idea is promising, but the execution needs to be effective. Rahma had no prepared words and was repeatedly rejected by drivers. He realizes that he keeps asking if they’re ready to be on his “television show,” which baffles them. When he switched to saying “TikTok shows,” they opened up. “They all have TikTok,” he said. Initially, he assumed that asking them to go to their “favorite place” would bring about all sorts of spontaneity, but they often just wanted to grab some food. Rahma is no foodie, but “I’m always hungry,” he says. “I’m not a foodie, because I haven’t eaten at any of the cool new restaurants. For me, what is more important is understanding the culture.”

In just seven episodes, he’s met a ton of drivers that comprise the city’s immigrant community. There is Abdur, the good Pakistani geologist and devout Muslim, who points out different rocks on the pavement and gently reprimands Rahma, who is also Muslim, for his lack of understanding. know about the Quran. There’s Ali, a Moroccan wildcard, who orders enough food for an army, then takes Rahma by helicopter. (That’s the closest he could get to a hint of his original favorite place: the moon.) Then there’s George, an introverted Ghanaian who cheered up when he taught Rahma how to eat. Traditional stewed peanuts properly. After a commenter on TikTok joked (threatened) that if Rahma didn’t bring the show to London, they’d do it themselves, the comedian and his team flew over the pond for the show’s finale. . They filmed a driver named Tony, an old Cockney man, who opened up with Rahma about his daughter’s rare condition and then took him to a restaurant in Lebanon.

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