Known by many as the “Jon Stewart of the Arab World,” Bassem Youssef is set to perform his satire comedy for a one-night-only show at ASU Gammage on Jan. 22.
“This show is about my own personal journey as someone who was a heart surgeon in Egypt, to political factors placing me in an interesting debacle,” Youssef said.
An Egyptian heart surgeon-turned-comedian, Youssef began his career in the world of satire through his immensely popular TV show "AlBernameg," where he used the power of humor to comment on the unjust politics of both Egypt and the Middle East.
What started as five-minute videos on YouTube, "AlBernameg" became the first online-to-TV conversion in the Middle East, with up to 30 million weekly viewers tuning in to watch Youssef.
“I was making fun of politics in a region where satire isn’t something people are used to, like here in the United States,” Youssef said.
Because of his comedy, Youssef was forced to flee Egypt for his own safety, entering the United States in 2014. But Youssef’s career has continued to prosper in U.S. — he has become an author, a podcaster and has made appearances in television and movies, even putting out a documentary in 2017 called “Tickling Giants.”
Now, Youssef is traveling the country sharing not only his personal story of living in Egypt and the United States, but commentating on current events.
“I think this show is relatable to everyone,” Youssef said. “It doesn’t matter if you are an immigrant or a republican or democrat; everybody should have something to relate to.”
Youssef expressed his joy of visiting universities and chatting with students.
“Speaking to college students is truly a privilege,” Youssef said. “I learn a lot from coming to speak to these students, more that they will ever learn from me.”
Youssef also is a fan of the theater, promoting and encouraging Arab representation on stage. He discussed his love for “The Band’s Visit” and Shereen Ahmed, who, as an Egyptian American is the first woman of color to play Eliza Dolittle in a Broadway production of “My Fair Lady.”
“I did an interview with Shereen and posted it on my social media," Youssef said. "I was over the moon to have someone so talented come from my country. The fact that you have an Egyptian headlining one of the most classical and beautiful productions in Broadway — it warms my heart. I was also very happy about the representation in 'The Band’s Visit.'”
When asked to share some advice, Youssef was coy.
“My biggest advice is not to listen to my advice,” he said. “I think we need to remind ourselves as older people that younger people have their own capacity to find their way, even if they have to go through tribulation and struggles. Just do your own thing.”