The Joke is Mightier than the Sword

Lecture followed by signing of Youssef's Revolution for Dummies
Nov 03, 2017
04:30 PM to 06:30 PM
Nittany Lion Inn, University Park

BASSEM YOUSSEF, dubbed the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, was the host of the popular TV show AlBernameg which was the first of its kind, political satire show in the Middle East. Originally a 5-minute show on YouTube, AlBernameg became the first online to TV conversion in the Middle East and the most watched show across the region with 30 million viewers every week.

AlBernameg received worldwide acclaim with coverage in some of the biggest media outlets. In June 2013, Youssef hosted Jon Stewart on AlBernameg in Cairo marking the second season’s peak.

Throughout its three seasons, AlBernameg remained controversial through its humorous yet bold criticism of the ruling powers, which led to several lawsuits being filed against the show and its host. Youssef was even issued an arrest warrant in March 2013 and turned himself in the next day; following five hours of questioning, he was released on bail.

In recognition of his success, Youssef was named one of Time Magazine’s most influential people for 2013 under the “Pioneers” category. He was awarded the International Press Freedom Award by the CPJ and was chosen by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the leading global thinkers during the same year.

During its third season, the show achieved unprecedented weekly viewership ratings for 11 consecutive weeks. In June 2014, after a six-week break, the AlBernameg team held a press conference where Youssef announced the termination of the show due to overwhelming pressures on both the show and the airing channel.

In the spring 2015, Youssef served as a resident fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and was a resident fellow at Stanford University in fall 2016. During his stay in the US, he appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as a Senior Middle East Correspondent, commenting on the political situation in the region.

Youssef’s most recent projects include Democracy Handbook, a ten-part series exploring topics of democracy on, the launch of his new book Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring in March 2017, and the release of Tickling Giants, a documentary film about Bassem Youssef directed by Sara Taksler, in April 2016.

This event will be followed by a signing of Youssef's Revolution for Dummies. Youssef's visit is co-sponsored by the African American Studies Department, Africana Research Center, African Studies Program, Department of Comparative Literature, Department of English, Department of History, Department of Sociology, Egyptian Student Association, McCourtney Institute for Democracy, Migration Studies Project, Paterno Fellows Program, Rock Ethics Institute, School of International Affairs, and Schreyer Honors College. Additional funding is provided by UPAC - Your Student Activity Fee at Work.

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