Bassem Youseff on the Arab Spring, Using Comedy to "Tickle Giants"

Mar 23, 2018

In 2014, Bassem Yousseff, commonly described as the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, was forced into exile after being accused of and arrested for criticizing the Egyptian government. His show "El Bernameg," which translates to "The Show" ran from 2011 to 2014; before that, he worked as a heart surgeon. 

"There is a mixture of celebration and fear. There were people who believed in what they were doing," he says of the mood in Tahrir Square during the Arab spring. "On the state run media, it was a different universe. They were calling everyone an operative or a spy... You get a glimpse of what it was like when the students at Parkland, Florida came out. The right wing media described them as being paid by the left wing politicians." 

Youseff currently lives in California. He’s released a book “Revolution for Dummies” to try to educate Americans about what it’s like to live in the middle East and is the subject of a documentary called Tickling Giants. He’s speaking in Iowa City as a part of the Mission Creek Festival on Saturday, April 7, and during this River to River interview, he talks with host Ben Kieffer.