Bassem Youssef is a political satirist that truly has caused some waves. Youssef was a heart surgeon in Egypt before he quit and started a political comedy web series on YouTube. Youssef then became an icon for mocking the hypocritical tyrannical leaders that took over after the Egyptian revolution. His satire was never before done in that country and soon become widely viewed and became a television show similar to Comedy Central’s The Daily Show or HBO’s Last Week Tonight.
In a country where mocking a regime is not a constitutional freedom, Youssef and his show’s staff were under some heavy threats by government leaders. In America, we can call the President any number of foul things and suffer no government repercussions, but in Egypt, taking on a regime with jokes and mockery can soon lead to life-threatening results.
But when Youssef first started his Television show he was widely loved, no one was making the statements he was making before on television and with humor. His style of comedy has earned him the nickname “The Egyptian Jon Stewart”, yet when Stewart was on his show in Egypt he admired how brave Youssef is saying “I tell you this it (Stewart’s show) doesn’t get me into the kind of trouble it gets you in.” Click Here to watch more of this interview.
Click Here for a very funny and smart clip from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
This trouble became a reality when in General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was elected President. After the election, Youssef’s show was taken off the air and he was forced into exile due to fear for his family’s lives.He has now moved to California and has a new web series called Democracy Handbook with Bassem Youssef.
Youssef now speaks on the similar issues that both Egypt and the US both share: Civil Unrest, Wars, Government Corruption, and Religious Extremism. He has been very open about his opinion on our last election and his views on President Trump but his greatest fear is not the man but what he represents. He talks about how the hate speech and fear mongering Trump and his supporters are putting on Muslims are a scary thing. He talks about how this targeted hate has happened before or is still happening, with Jews, African American, LGBTQ, in a CBS interview he said this “People who use hate, anger, and xenophobia as a speech they need someone to put the hate one.” Watch the full interview click here.
The impressive thing is how resilient and brave Youssef and his show staff were and are. It truly is a great lesson for myself and others within my generations.
Lesson: If you know something is wrong and people in power want you to stay complicit, throw that shit in the garbage and start making some noise. Also if you can make it funny that’s a bonus.
Bassem Youssef will be at Hancher Auditorium part of the Mission Creek Festival, April 7th at 7:30 PM. I’ll be there and I hope to see you too!