The USM Honors College screened “Tickling Giants” on May 2 in Scianna Hall. The documentary tells the story of Bassem Youssef during a revolution in Egypt in 2001. Youssef traded in his secure career as a heart surgeon to become a comedian who insulted the government to the point where he had to move to a completely new country.
The special screening event was open and free to the public.
“I felt like it was something that needed to be brought to this campus,” said freshman Honors College student Jasmine Kelley.
Kelley was able to bring the film to Southern Miss after contacting the executive producer of The Daily Show.
“The problems going on in Egypt needed to be seen in America,” she said.
“Tickling Giants” began with news clips from various news stations in Egypt of mass revolts and protests.
There were great scenes of violence and chaos in the film.
In one scene, an unresponsive child is being carried away in the midst of the chaos. Someone shouts, “He’s just a child.”
The film then rewinds back 10 months earlier to a tranquil and light-hearted hospital scene.
Here is when viewers are introduced to Bassem Youssef, the main character.
Youssef talks about his career as a heart surgeon and also his life currently in Egypt under President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak.
In the film, there were massive protests against Mubarak. He was described as a dictator abusing his power of presidency.
Youssef described how the media in Egypt showed biased coverage of the protests and revolts.
“I saw two different reactions,” Youssef said. “The media was brainwashing the people. They should be the voice of the people, not the voice of authority. I never imagined that I would see my country like this.”
The protest would ultimately lead to Mubarak’s resignation as president.
“This is the beginning of the future,” Youssef says in the film.
Youssef, like many other residents, began getting annoyed with Egypt’s media.
This led him to create his first show on YouTube, “The B+ Show.”
In the first 3 months of his show, he gained more than 5 million views.
“I was taking revenge against the ￼lies of the the media,” he said.
Youssef’s show was picked up by a television station and became “The Show.”
His show gained so much popularity that he was flown to America to appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart who was his inspiration for his show.
“The Show” was a satirical comedy that made fun of the Egypt government, politics and society.
A participant in the film said, “He is able, in a sarcastic way, to expose the flaws in society.”
People loved Youssef at first. However, after several changes of power the majority of the people ended up falling in love with Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, the leader of the Egypt army.
When Youssef made an episode insulting Sisi, his life became more and more endangered, to the point where the show got cancelled and he had to move to America.
“I will not just be another mouthpiece for the government,” Youssef said. “This show is about holding the government accountable. I have to continue because maybe if people laugh at their differences they can laugh at each other instead of hating each other.”
There was a short discussion among the attendants following the viewing.
Director of the University Forum Andrew Haley said Egypt is the largest recipient of foreign aid from the United States and it’s important for us to know the country that this money is going to.
“I hope viewers will see it [Tickling Giants] and be happy to be in our country. I feel like it made viewers grateful for our First Amendment [of the Constitution],” Kelley said.
Tickling Giants is being shown at different universities across the country.