CAIRO – Don’t look now, but Egypt’s comedy scene is on the rise, and it’s letting the rest of the world know about it. Bassem Youseff, the comedian who has been proclaimed as Egypt’s Jon Stewart, decided to cancel his TV show, El Bernameg, in order to move to the U.S. where he can “bring North African humor to the forefront.”
“I think it was the right move,” said Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, who reportedly played a role in Youseff’s nationally publicized announcement. “Why let Bassem stagnate in Egypt when he can develop in the LA or New York comedy circuit? His anti-government japes are funny enough, but he needs to build his repertoire. He needs to find his true voice.”
Youseff, who ascended to fame after former President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in 2011, hosted the Arab world’s first live-audience satire program, El Bernameg, on which he consistently took jabs at political targets like the Muslim Brotherhood, former President Mohamed Morsi – who took over after Mubarak – and even el-Sisi. In fact, many have opined that Youseff’s edgy commentary on the president, who has developed a cult-like following himself, was the actual reason for Youseff’s exit from the domestic comedy scene.
“People think I was insulted when he poked fun at me, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth,” said el-Sisi, who admittedly watched El Bernameg every night from the comfort of his home to unwind from a long day of work. “I’m an adult. I can handle anything he throws my way. Unless it’s about my wife’s falafel recipe, because that’s just not cool.”
To show his support for Youseff’s transition to the American market, the Egyptian president has earmarked government funding to pay for his boarding and food in the States, as well as premium tickets to stand-up performances of Carrot Top, Gallagher, and Martin Lawrence.
“In order to truly understand American comedy, one must surround himself with the best it has to offer,” said el-Sisi, whose knowledge of American comedy is limited to pre-2000, before he became “too consumed” by the military to follow anything but Egyptian entertainment. “He needs to pick up on the mannerisms, flow, and watermelon-smashing techniques of these comedic demigods.”
Despite the possibility of a bumpy road for Youseff in his new venture, El-Sisi remains confident that Egypt’s most famous comedian will at the very least set a great example for the rest of his homeland’s up-and-coming comics.
“Who knows, maybe someday an Egyptian will make a big splash in Hollywood, kind of like that Rob Schneider guy from SNL. What ever happened to him, anyway?”