“If I could do anything, I would have my own comedy show, and be like Jon Stewart. Make fun of New Jersey — whatever the hell that is. I would make fun of politics, the president. There’s only one problem. I live in Egypt.” — Bassem Youssef
In the midst of the Egyptian Arab Spring, Bassem Youssef makes a decision that’s every mother’s worst nightmare … He leaves his job as a heart surgeon to become a full-time comedian. In an ode to “The Daily Show,” he created the satirical TV show “Al Bernameg” to call out the hypocrisy in the government, media and religion. The weekly show quickly became the most watched program in the Middle East, with 30 million viewers per episode, reaching nearly 40% of the country.
A few years and regime changes later, “The Egyptian Jon Stewart” and his crew become persona non grata. The show is cancelled, death threats ensue and Youssef and family flee the country, eventually settling in the US. Tickling Giants (directed by “The Daily Show” producer) tells the remarkable story of Youssef’s meteoric rise and inevitable fall. These days Youssef is refining his brand of parody as an antidote for America’s current political climate. He hosts “Democracy Handbook,” a Fusion TV show that sends him across the country to satirize, cajole and make fun of his adoptive land. His new memoir, Revolution for Dummies, is a distillation of his humor and the competing agendas that imperil the Middle East.
Discussion follows with author, activist and comedian Bassem Youssef