A comical documentary about the ‘Egyptian Jon Stewart’, Bassem Youssef. During the Arab Spring, he trades in his career as a doctor for a life as a talk show host. Soon he has his own late night show on Egyptian television. Youssef’s fortunes and misfortunes appear to be very
dependent on the quirks of the leaders of the land. This makes Tickling Giants perhaps the funniest history lesson on turbulent modern Egypt.
Humour can banish any evil; that is the conviction of comical doctor Bassem Youssef. However, in his job as heart surgeon there is not much to laugh. As a release for his humorous side, and to make a difference in the protests against the regime, he starts a YouTube channel full of homemade movies in which he ridicules President Mubarak. The channel is a huge success, with scores of viewers each day. It encourages Youssef to make a bold move, quitting his job as heart surgeon to pursue a new career as a fulltime comedian.
Due to his popularity, he manages to get his own television show on an Egyptian television channel. He takes the format from his biggest role model: American comedian and satirist Jon Stewart. Al Bernameg (‘The Show’) soon becomes one of the best-watched programmes in the Arab world, with 30 million viewers per show. But the satirical programme is as controversial as it is popular, thanks to its criticism of the regime. After the dictator Mubarak is ousted, the tide seems to turn. But the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood also does not seem to be very fond of freedom of speech. Youssef and his team are under immense pressure, but still continue ‘tickling the giants’, using humour and satire to challenge injustice and hypocrisy.
Andeel worked as a permanent writer and cartoonist of the program until it had to stop in 2014. He will be present at the Movies that Matter Festival as one of the A Matter of ACT activists. Read more about him here.
Text: Annika Wubbolt