"Hilarious and Heartbreaking. Comedy shouldn't take courage, but it made an exception for Bassem." --Jon Stewart
"The Jon Stewart of the Arabic World"-the creator of The Program, the most popular television show in Egypt's history-chronicles his transformation from heart surgeon to political satirist, and offers crucial insight into the Arab Spring, the Egyptian Revolution, and the turmoil roiling the modern Middle East, all of which inspired the documentary about his life, Tickling Giants.
Bassem Youssef's incendiary satirical news program, Al-Bernameg (The Program), chronicled the events of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, and the rise of Mubarak's successor, Mohamed Morsi. Youssef not only captured his nation's dissent but stamped it with his own brand of humorous political criticism, in which the Egyptian government became the prime laughing stock.
So potent were Youssef's skits, jokes, and commentary, the authoritarian government accused him of insulting the Egyptian presidency and Islam. After a six-hour long police interrogation, Youssef was released. While his case was eventually dismissed, his television show was terminated, and Youssef, fearful for his safety, fled his homeland.
In Revolution for Dummies, Youssef recounts his life and offers hysterical riffs on the hypocrisy, instability, and corruption that has long animated Egyptian politics. From the attempted cover-up of the violent clashes in Tahrir Square to the government's announcement that it had created the world's first "AIDS cure" machine, to the conviction of officials that Youssef was a CIA operative-recruited by Jon Stewart-to bring down the country through sarcasm. There's much more-and it's all insanely true.
Interweaving the dramatic and inspiring stories of the development of his popular television show and his rise as the most contentious funny-man in Egypt, Youssef's humorous, fast-paced takes on dictatorship, revolution, and the unforeseeable destiny of democracy in the Modern Middle East offers much needed hope and more than a few healing laughs. A documentary about his life, Tickling Giants, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and is now scheduled for major release.
Bassem Youssef, dubbed the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, was the host of popular TV show Al-Bernameg, which was the first of its kind political satire show in the Middle East region. Originally an online 5-minute show, Al-Bernameg became the most watched show in the history of Egyptian TV with an average of 40 million viewers every week, in addition to over 2 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.2 billion views on Bassem Youssef's own channel. In June 2014, the Al-Bernameg team held a press conference where Youssef announced the termination of the show due to pressure on the show and its channel about its incisive commentary and criticism of the Egyptian government and military. Although the real cause was ambiguous and never stated directly, Youssef cited fear for his personal safety and his family's safety as strong reasons for him to stop. Bassem is currently preparing for a digital series with Fusion TV called "The Democracy Handbook" where he is satirizing American politics through a Middle Eastern perspective. A documentary about Bassem's life is due to premiere in Tribeca Film Festival in April 2016. He now lives in the United States.