ANN ARBOR – Bassem Youssef, who is known as the "Jon Stewart of the Arab World," created the show "Al-Bernameg" when he was a practicing cardiothoracic surgeon. "Al-Bernameg" began as a five-minute political satire shot from Youssef’s laundry room and posted on YouTube after protests in Tahrir Square unseated Egypt’s ruling elite. Over time, it blossomed into the most-watched show in the Middle East, with 30 million viewers every week.
"Al-Bernameg" ran three seasons before Youssef announced its termination after receiving an overwhelming amount of political pressure. During its time on the air, the show was considered controversial due to its farcical and biting take on the powers that be. The show, as well as Youssef, were considered to be so insulting that Youssef himself was arrested and interrogated after being accused of “anti-Islam” sentiments. Despite the obvious setbacks, "Al-Bernameg" achieved unprecedented ratings in its final season.
Youssef comes to the Michigan Theater with "The Joke is Mightier than the Sword," in which he shares his personal story, as well as his thoughts on what led to the Arab Spring, its parallels to the current state of politics in America and, perhaps most importantly, how propaganda lays the foundation for dictatorial regimes.
"The Joke is Mightier than the Sword" begins at 7:30 p.m. on Monday at the Michigan Theater. Tickets may be purchased here.