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Bassem Youssef: From Egypt to Tribeca

Friday, April 15, 2016 - 01:57

The self-proclaimed 'Jon Stewart of Egypt,' is the subject of a new documentary called ''Tickling Giants'' premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: It's 2011 and the Egyptian Revolution just forced out President Mubarak and heart surgeon Bassem Youseff decides to become 'the Jon Stewart of Egypt' by creating a satirical comedy show on YouTube to "challenge the state -run media and the powers-that-be." The only problem, he is in a country where taking on the government can have serious consequences, a challenge filmmaker, Sara Taksler, found fascinating and the foundation for the documentary, "Tickling Giants." "Actually the very first day I met Bassem I was just interested in him and his team and their story. They do exactly what I do at 'The Daily Show' but with much higher stakes. So we are cover satire and we all try to have a point of view, but they're doing it with threats that we don't have to think about," said Taksler who met Youseff in June 2012 when he was a guest on Stewart's "The Daily Show." According to press notes, Youseff's show, "Al Bernameg," averaged 30 million viewers per episode and was the most watched show in the Middle East. Youseff doesn't consider himself humorous or a comedian, but more a nerd with a message. "There are a lot of people that are much funnier than me. But it's about what is the context. You can do funny to be a distraction and you can do funny to effect people and this is the difference. So I think - I always stuck to the fact that we want to do what matters to the people." The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 14. Taksler hopes it will not only entertain but spark audiences to fight for justice where injustice lies. "He's a pretty normal guy who has an opportunity to non-violently address power and he took it. And I want people to think in their own lives, whether something big, like a government taking advantage or something on a smaller scale, like a bully on the playground or a co-worker who is taking advantage of someone, or something like that. I want people to think about ways to tickling giants in their lives." Youseff jokes that he is now in a sort of a mid-life crisis, but does want to carve out a space for himself in American media. "Maybe I'll do something disruptive like I did in Egypt. I know it's wishful thinking but you can dream. And I think you guys need some sort of diversity. Not just Arabs who blow themselves up on television."

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Bassem Youssef: From Egypt to Tribeca

Friday, April 15, 2016 - 01:57