Bassem Youssef, The Joke is Mightier than the Sword

November 16, 2017, 7:30 PM
Camp Concert Hall, Booker Hall of Music

Dubbed the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, Bassem Youssef was the creator and host of the wildly popular TV show Al-Bernameg—the first political satire show in the Middle East and the most watched program in the region from 2011 to 2014 with 30 million viewers every week. Youssef is an Egyptian comedian, writer, producer, physician, media critic, and television host. In 2013, he was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and was awarded the International Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). In 2015, Youssef served as a resident fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has been a recurring guest on The Daily Show and recently hosted the 2015 International Emmy Awards. He is currently a fellow at Stanford University and resides with his family in the United States.

Throughout its three seasons Al-Bernameg remained controversial for its hilarious and bold criticism of the ruling powers. Accused of being “anti-Islam” and insulting the Egyptian President, Youssef was arrested and interrogated before being released on bail. During its final season, the show achieved unprecedented ratings before Youssef announced its termination because of overwhelming political pressures on the show and the airing channel.

In The Joke Is Mightier than the Sword, Bassem shares his personal story and his thoughts on the political climate that led to the Arab Spring, its parallels to the current state of American politics, and how propaganda lays the foundation for dictatorial regimes.

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