Film screening of Tickling Giants followed by discussion with Bassem Youssef and Sara Taksler

film screening, panel discussion, book signing, reception
Nov 04, 2017
05:00 PM to 08:00 PM
Katz Auditorium, University Park

In the midst of the Egyptian Arab Spring, Bassem Youssef makes a decision that’s every mother’s worst nightmare... He leaves his job as a heart surgeon to become a full-time comedian.

Dubbed, “The Egyptian Jon Stewart,” Bassem creates the satirical show, AlBernameg. The weekly program quickly becomes the most viewed television program in the Middle East, with 30 million viewers per episode. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart averaged two million viewers.

In a country where free speech is not settled law, Bassem’s show becomes as controversial as it popular. He and his staff must endure physical threats, protests, and legal action, all because of jokes. As Bassem attempts to remain on the air, keep his staff safe, and not get arrested, he continues to hold those in power accountable. Despite increasing danger, the team at AlBernameg employs comedy, not violence, to comment on hypocrisy in media, politics, and religion.

Tickling Giants follows the team of AlBernameg as they discover democracy is not easily won. The young women and men working on Bassem’s show are fearless revolutionaries, who just happen to be really, really funny.

Bassem Youssef, dubbed the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, was the host of the popular TV show AlBernameg. Throughout its three seasons, the show 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 for being "anti-Islam" and for insulting the President. 

A senior producer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Sara Taksler has pitched stories and jokes, and researched footage for over a decade. Taksler’s first film, Stop the Ignorance: The Beauty That Is New Jersey, was a tribute to her home state. Her latest documentary, Tickling Giants, had its world premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.

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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