Talking with the "Jon Stewart of the Arab World"
Dr. Bassem Youssef is an Egyptian cardiothoracic surgeon turned political satirist who launched a wildly popular political talk show on YouTube from his apartment in the wake of the Egyptian revolution in 2011. Youssef, dubbed the "Egyptian Jon Stewart", has gained a worldwide following on YouTube and is a voice for free expression around the Arab world. His show has more than 80 million views on YouTube and it continues to grow. Hear what he has to say about the evolving roles of comedy, satire, and entertainment in a post Arab Spring Middle East.
Bassem Youssef, dubbed the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, is the host of popular TV show Al Bernameg. In March 2011 and after 8 weeks of Mubarak stepping down from power, Bassem Youssef uploaded his B+ Show episode on YouTube. The B+ Show gained more than five million views in the first three months alone! Egyptian channel ONTV quickly offered Youssef a deal to create the satirical political show Al Bernameg with a budget of roughly half a million dollars to produce 104 episodes, making him the first internet to TV conversion in the Middle East. Bassem has more than 1.78 million followers on Twitter, and nearly 3.5 million fans on Facebook. His shows have more than 200 million combined views on YouTube alone. In June 2012, Jon Stewart invited Youssef to The Daily Show for an extended interview. This segment was one with the highest views on Jon Stewart’s site. In November 2012, Qsoft announced the move of Al-Bernameg from ON TV's smallest studio to the majestic building of Radio Theater in Cairo’s downtown, which is an exact replica of Radio City in New York. The second season, which premiered on the 23rd of November 2012 on CBC network, was the first live audience show in the Middle East. Al Bernameg is currently rated the number 1 show of its genre in terms of viewership in Egypt and continues to receive wide approval in Egypt and around the world with coverage in CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, the Guardian, Bloomberg, France 24, DW, Financial Times, NewsWeek, and BusinessWeek, to name a few. Youssef holds a PhD in heart and chest surgery, passed the United States Medical License Exam (USMLE) and is a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. (MRCS)