The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s Senior Producer, Sara Taksler announced an exclusive, independent documentary film based on TV star and satirist, Bassem Youssef, the Egyptian TV host whose show, “Al Bernameg”, attracted 30 million viewers per episode (“The Daily Show”, which Bassem based his show on, has 2 million viewers per episode). Titled TICKLING GIANTS, the film sets to reveal Bassem’s extraordinary life – a surgeon treating protest victims in Tahrir Square at the start of the revolution, decides to start a comedy show, becoming one of the most famous people in the world (and one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2013), drawing the wrath of those who find his jokes poorly timed and offensive, and the ultimate cancellation of his show.
TICKLING GIANTS is a Cinderella story gone awry. At the start of the Arab Spring and in need of a laugh, Dr. Bassem Youssef leaves heart surgery to host a comedy show. Bassem and his staff start “Al Bernameg”, the first political satire show in Egypt. While many in Egypt are expressing themselves with their fists, “Al Bernameg” makes loud statements through satire. People gather every week to view the show, organizing watch parties, and setting up screens in the streets and outside of cafes.
Support TICKLING GIANTS on Indiegogo and receive great perks like Bassem to record your voicemail, a poster designed by renown Egyptian political cartoonist Andeel, signed by Bassem, and conference calls where fans can ask Bassem questions – HERE
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The film follows staff members, fans and critics, as they show that comedy can be cathartic… and dangerous. Bassem, quickly becoming one of the most famous people in the world, has to figure out how to remain on the air, keep his staff safe, stay out of jail, and let those in power know they’re being held accountable. In 2013, Bassem is called to court for questioning on counts of insulting the president and insulting Islam.
After months of protests outside the studios and armed guards called in to protect the staff, there is great pressure on Bassem. Forced to switch networks after complaints over his jokes, and with possible pressure from the government to cancel “Al Bernameg”, Bassem asks, “You are going to penalize people for saying jokes now? Once you go after a joker, that’s a joke in itself.”
Taksler partnered with Maziar Bahari, a producer on the film. Bahari is a filmmaker and journalist who spent 118 days in an Iranian prison in 2009. His story is told in Jon Stewart’s recent directorial debut, “Rosewater”.