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Bassem Youssef

  • Wisconsin Union Theater 800 Langdon Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

Bassem Youssef, a former surgeon, launched his comedic career on YouTube shortly after the Egyptian revolution of 2011 with the satirical The B+ Show, which millions of viewers in mere months. Egyptian viewers were anxious for an alternative to government-run television, which undercut the grievances of the Egyptian people towards a police state that ignored its citizens' rights to free speech, assembly, and economic security. In fall 2011, Youssef's show, renamed Al Bernameg (The Program), moved to the Egyptian channel ONTV, and a year later, for season two, was picked up by the CBC. Combined with Youssef's YouTube channel, the "Egyptian Daily Show" brought in hundreds of millions of viewers, allowing prominent critics of president Mohammad Morsi and his government as well as artists a platform for dissent. The show also attracted complaints and lawsuits, and as a result it has bounced around between networks. In 2013, the same year Youssef was named one of Time's most influential people, Youssef turned himself in after an arrest warrant was filed against him for insulting the president and Islam. Youssef was released the next day and continued making the show until June 2014, when he was forced to leave Egypt. Youssef has since kept busy, landing speaking gigs and guest spots on other political satire shows.  In 2016, a documentary about Youssef called Tickling Giants premiered, and Youssef's newest project, The Democracy Handbook, began airing on Fusion. His memoir, Revolution For Dummies: Laughing Through The Arab Spring, was released in March 2017. He visits here as part of the Wisconsin Union Directorate's Distinguished Lecture Series. —Caleb Oakley

Earlier Event: November 8
Spotlight Cinema: The Square
Later Event: November 8
Jonathan Richman (free)