The Arab Spring in Egypt: From a dictator to free elections, back to a dictatorship. One comedy show united the country and tested the limits of free press. This is the story of Bassem Youssef, a cardiologist turned comedian, the Jon Stewart of Egypt, and his show "The Show".Written by
Does satire get you into trouble I mean what about the love you get from the people?
I'll tell you this, it doesn't get me the kind of trouble that gets you into.
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Disclaimer at the beginning of the movie. (Arabic scrolling text, with English voiceover)
Please use caution when trying any techniques used in this movie. Speaking out against oppressive regimes may cause side effects such as: headaches, mood swings, sweating, indigestion, loss of appetite, loss of sleep, loss of home, loss of friends, loss of constitutionally guaranteed rights, death, and vaginal dryness. This movie may not be appropriate for all audiences: If you are a dictator please leave the room now. See more »
If you were like me, you were enthralled by the kids who help topple Egypt's Mubarak regime what seems like ages ago. Dr. Bassem Youssef emerged out of that chaos, and played the role of gadfly to the next regime, all-the-while following a script that folks like Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert had made famous in the United States.
Tickling Giants deconstructs Bassem Youssef's story following a combination of interviews, on-air broadcasts and contributions from Stewart, various political pundits and even Youssef's family. It would be a beautiful, poignant take on the life of a comedian, but...of course, the crash of Egypt's brief democratic experiment is reeling in the background.
Sara Taksler--Producer for the The Daily Show--ventures into documentary film remarkably, with a story that does not allow itself to be choked with data nor overwhelmed by the giant personality that is Bassem Youssef. What emerges instead is Youssef's amazing mixture of idiocy and courage, with those who took him to the Ball now begging to be the first to hang him from the rafters. It is a peculiarly effective documentary--moving forward in time but backwards progressively as Egypt descends, and as the threats, charges and actions against Youseff begin to pile up.
Perhaps the most telling part of the film is the courage of Youssef's staff--compiled of an amazing group of talented young writers, it is easy to see why Youseff is so sad. It is not his own but their future that he is risking his jokes to defend. For those who do not have friends from the Arab world, a couple of minutes with his crew tosses aside any preconceptions of what it means to be from the Middle East, and I was left saddened to think that the ones likely to be trampled first when the giants are tickled are these funny, courageous women and men.
On every level, Taksler's years of working with satire and shorts for the Daily show has allowed her to create this documentary like a series of haiku, and the beautiful sadness that is Tickling Giants serves well either as art or education, though it remains a documentary pleading for a better ending than the one Egypt's dictators seem to be planning.
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