Maeve visits heartthrob astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Natural History Museum to chat about global migration and moving to Mars. She calls up socio-political comedian W. Kamau Bell about speaking truth to power using jokes. And she talks with Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef about finding his footing in America - and his hopes of playing more than just the role of Terrorist #3 in action movies.
United States


00:00:00hello and welcome to Made in America these are immigration stories told by the people who flips them and then the season finale of the good one I joined by W kamau Bell who they're contacting for this show and we have Celestial Street lined up in the not so nebulous form of heart throb after visit Neil deGrasse Tyson connect myself to All Humans who have ever lived because any two people in the world have a common ancestor just a matter how far back you like
00:00:43you may have seen him on Samantha Bee or hurting when I do you are talking about his new book Revolution for dummies we have him here because he's an immigrant got the move to LA just over a year ago gets it he was a heart surgeon that he became a comic and then host back if you jipped he hosted the most popular late-night TV show in the entire Middle East it was called Alabama can. At I just had 14 million views per episode but the political climate changed and bathroom show was taken off the air and it was no longer safe for him to stay in Egypt am I right in thinking that you or I wouldn't take the risk of some custom border Control Officers only thing that she's doing the right thing I already escaped from a very dangerous situation why would I put myself back there and plus
00:01:40why would I go back I mean I have actually struggle to make some sort of a success story there if I was El bernameg this is a clip from a reason documentary about them it's called tickling Giants I'm in this one you here and deal who was the right around the show I remember the first thing you said show I saw something on my side seams be encouraging people to be more critical to wait 30 someone saying things that are similar to what we're saying to each other things that are not usually on TV things are critical of the media the way it controls the people's mind
00:02:21he's like all Glee
00:02:24there was very dangerous to have a show on the bar when they send people to jail like Jonah this or activist that killed hope in people that made people and forget that change could happen I want to ask about the show the effect it has on the people who are watching and how much you were aware of that as you're making it did you know how powerful it louder than how powerful was last night's sleep you stop everywhere that means cheats for empty people or where I scheduling the life around the show Super Bowl Sunday every single week
00:03:00it was a scary version to have I spoke to become a bath from United shades of America and from the podcast politically reactive he's at work on texting for today on comedy on politics you know I think as a comedian you have to be challenging Authority even if the authority of the authority of you know individuals or the authority of you know of the you know a corporation I mean you have you sounding some Authority where the authority of the subway train or the authority of the rain but you have to be challenging some Authority or else you're not really doing your job there's different levels of risk and there's different than everybody differently. You know Lenny Bruce was arrested feel like I'm probably not going to have that challenge for things I say on stage by get arrested going to be for something else like nothing cuz I'm a black man in America but you know like I think sometimes Council stage even talk to say things that are provocative still have his knee like I'm dangerous and and it's like well you can really say whatever you want to do at this point
00:04:00the current political climate is such that people feel more justified in using their anger against you than they did maybe 2-3 years ago I think social media and because of who the president of the United States is how he operates so they're there is a sense of people can be targeted and taken down just for being themselves you never talked about like you know somebody who's an oppressed group might just get taken down for being in the world. For anything they said or did but just because you know there are Muslim with an opinion about inclusion I do think we live in an era where you do have to be prepared that attacks will come out of nowhere
00:04:36my passport is stacked with visas to Britain I have more than 12 is today you and every time I apply to go to the you I have to go to offer proof of income proof that I would come back at you are letters to buy my ticket and to book my hotel and I have invitation letters every time even if I work 3 days the last time I I give them the emails of invitees like we need the originals it is extremely humiliating it doesn't matter what is your record what's up what's your history what's your status with my Egyptian passport I am I dealt with as a second grade citizen of the world
00:05:34yeah yeah I think a lot of fan immigrants go through this thing strangles with this paperwork and it seems like of course it's just a form but like you said it's this repetitive kind of like teasing Diamond like reminding you like you're not from here I get dreads those Embassy visits the end needs bank statements and they have to be original and they have to be proof of residency it's not just your driving lessons they have to have like gas bills electricity bills it's just proof no yes no I think that would be a very strange that a First Dates like if somebody was asking for your paperwork
00:06:25so how's it going in America in a different country different language suck my mother tongue I'm speaking to an audience that I can hardly related with different preferences and I'm coming here in a saturated Market with a Cutthroat competition and I'm hoping to make it so it is it is hard terrifying exciting but they're fine I can see it's the great Melting Pot every one of all Races Creeds and colors are equal and their hatred of Arabs so right now but that can change America is the land of reinvention
00:07:04that was a trip from their democracy handbook which is a series that you made for a fusion do you think that you're more like a writer performer broadcaster on Spotify from the island by condensed and again so I used to teach both by the way how many lives have you had heart surgery on Tango at the same time
00:07:34I have Tango friends everywhere I go this is the family that I have everywhere because Tango communities are connected everywhere you go in to check into any City where's Tango and you go on YouTube. You know that because you made them in Festival
00:07:56you are a doctor and then you were like the top comic in the Middle East where do this drive come from being true to yourself as doing the job as it should be done holding the day after work and media accountable and there is the selfish part that you want to be the best at what you do I'm never satisfied with what I do and I beat myself up for not getting a hundred percent and maybe it's part of being very insecure all those white male so I'm not even White story Brown sorry I chose the wrong color we are one of those people who take others thank God they have others because if it was ever Middle Eastern you know that we wouldn't even take it snowing up tickets
00:08:56how to think of yourself as other rice until you're here which I didn't have to think of myself as anything
00:09:04now I have to I have to find this some sort of classification and the thing is I discovered that it doesn't really matter what you think you are what really matters what they think that you are so for example it doesn't matter if you're almost done or not everyday user not an Indian Sikh it really doesn't matter it how they perceive you and this is why you have a couple of Angels were shot in Kansas because some guy decided that they are most them they need to be killed so it is how they perceive you I look the way I am I told the way I am and I'm going to be categorized in that box whatever I do it doesn't matter if I spend it 20 years in this country or I paid hundreds of dollars in elocution classes to make me sound more American but it's not going to happen so I'm going to happen because I'm going to
00:10:04I don't know what actions I'm doing right now
00:10:12in Egypt the country's first ever elected president Mohamed deterioration in human rights according to Amnesty International right now is like North Korea plus two pyramids and internet so Something Old Something New internet and permits something blue with everybody everybody and what's that what what's what's today so that's exactly yes hey don't be so sad that mean in the film and like throughout the Arab Spring in every country the hope that was there two things would change to female West become what happens pictures
00:11:12I hope and remember this appointment I remember the beginning of the American Revolution and what happened 4 years afterwards there was Lake Street Wars in DC for 12 years of the 1776 and there were a lot of a separatist movements and there was like a civil war right struggle for Freedom comes with struggle it's not a smooth right revolutions don't work this way it's a very long and lengthy process it just started so you're looking at the long game yeah I might not see the end game what if this will resolve into a much better ending maybe it is the generation to come after me
00:11:56number one do not normalize what Trump is doing because it's not normal people are trying to cope with it no you need to call him out every single time I am second of all for the people who listen to this address and the comedian or doing a great job they need to understand that they are not exist and they're not Freedom Fighters and then our politicians my bad again echoing bathroom music like the song or the joke can make people a can help me with no I never thought of things that way and it can make people go thank you for saying that that way cuz now I know how to say it cuz I don't know how to say it before it can help explain the world of people I can help people gives her a quickie ways to explain what what they think the other people and ultimately that means it it can help inspire people to do the work but you know you know we shall overcome didn't create the Civil Rights Movement
00:12:56you know like it's not I think that these things are important but they're not the thing I don't think Comics have to do the work out of micardis have to be activist and want to put that pressure on us but I think that we have to recognize that that's not the work that's our work but that's not the big capital W work that needs to be done to make the world a better place for dummies laughing through the Arab Spring huge kick out of this you what does it look like in a full-blown brainwashing media machine what you have now is a sector that are being brainwashed with ridiculous can't we have had this forever and for us it's mainstream so for you to look out for that and so far the regular American citizen it is it's a warning for Trump you could be used as a manual
00:13:53you're helping him but you know I would sometimes I kind of look at American saying I think you're being hysterical like it's not that bad yet you know right cats Donald Trump actually be a dictator with the Middle Eastern standards but he's already affecting people's life he is creating an atmosphere when he's making a lot of people uncomfortable is making people feel that they're being reported that I picked on and that's dangerous it's the atmosphere that he created not the actual governors
00:14:29let's say for example for God forbid there's an incident today I'm sure the Trump is praying for one right and the perpetrator is gold Muhammad right all minorities like us it is very bad news but it is not going to be only us that would be affected
00:14:49are there things like that you didn't expect to surprise do about America prepares you quite willing to live in America is in Two and a Half Men it to you will have the perfect idea what American Pie. 2 Broke Girls and the Irish Spring or watch the documentary tickling Giants Grace after the break I get starry-eyed for Neil deGrasse Tyson
00:15:34the Box made in America so this is there a season finale and because it's an unpredictable and often scary time for immigrants to America I wanted to get the bigger picture the Longview and who better to run to the Neil deGrasse Tyson I co host his National Geographic show star talk and he's a mentor to me and I have too many of the people as well as hosting StarTalk and Cosmos he's an astrophysicist and he's the director of the Hayden planetarium it's that feeling you get in your head that's like a twinkling feeling okay so first of all we just explain where we are sitting in your office of the director of the Hayden Planetarium
00:16:34you want to ask me if you can ask I invited you into my office you just asked
00:16:45immigration background your family born in New York City both of my parents were born in New York City both of their sets of parents one set was born in Puerto Rico is that was born in Nevis and st. Kitts
00:17:03minions continues through there until at some point we all Trace our Origins back to Africa you can do I have an active disinterest in that information I connect myself to All Humans who have ever lived not only to humans who are in some kind of genetic tracking that led to me because any two people in the world have a common ancestor just a matter how far back you look so it's arbitrary where you choose to draw the line and so I'm simply saying any two people if you go far enough back you'll find the person who's the common ancestor of all people because of this fact I don't look too just my ancestors for what I can be I look to the entire species of homo sapiens
00:18:03with me I'm like oh I'm Irish and I'm here it's like you're African it's somewhere between then and now you're you went to Ireland that's the actual answer noticed you went you took your leggings to a point and then you established that to be what you are that's artificial that's all I'm saying I will not reference ancestry to Define who and what I can become in this world so I have an active decision I've been asked many times there's the guy who went has the PBS show skip Gates Whoever got the title The Shelter that's what year was the first title
00:18:41your daddy who's your Daddy I said no I just not only do I not care I don't even want to know
00:18:58no since World War II there haven't been as many people on the move so there is like migration of immigrants so that's happening no it's like a natural thing to happen show my sense of the history of a species is that in any given population above a certain size I don't know what that size is this somebody who wants to see what's on the other side of the hill tonight contentious stain in the cave what's over there I want to find out oh don't do that it could be dangerous I want to find out so these people if they return a live actually become Heroes they discovered something they bring back a new food source of water source they have stories to tell these people
00:19:48become important parts of the tribe
00:19:52and so if they say there's better living quarters over there then this cave then you pick up and move maybe not everyone can make it cuz they're all maybe not everyone will make it cuz they don't believe them I would assert that it's because we have explorers walking Among Us that we ever got out of the cave in the first place and perhaps waves of immigration that are not people kicked out or escaping death because of War but people who just want to seek higher opportunity and some other places compared to where they are that may be genetically encoded in us how else could we have come out of Africa explored all of Europe and then Crossing to Asia they cross the Bering Strait this is a remarkable fact in the fact that we would walk those distances we didn't fly there was no Conestoga wagon there no domesticated horses we walked and app that mileage
00:20:52you talkin 20,000 mile so we did that was for survival there's no food here let's check over there but surely some of this is because we have an urge to explore or to seek opportunity that is greater than what you are currently experiencing that will forever
00:21:12stoke the numbers of immigrants in this world and by the way if that urge is genetic and I don't I don't know if it is but it let's say you're just sort of a random element of who people are so if its genetic it means that the people who have the energy and the and the the shin nessnitty to leave what is familiar for something new
00:21:43that's spirit
00:21:46can completely transform civilization if you gather such people together
00:21:55it's been argued that the United States was just such a place open to immigrants up until certain years of the twentieth century but open with fits and starts but basically open to immigrants in the Civil War right on up through before the second world war there's some ugly episodes in there by the way I don't to paint that as a perfectly pretty picture but the United States as we know it is a country which is basically twentieth-century United States that's what really put us on the map that would have been impossible undoable unrealizable without the 10 acity of immigrants moving not just like Tuesday as you may remember a couple of years ago there was a guy named as long as drop these Dutch fellow entrepreneur and you sign up for it and will send you to Mars
00:22:55not bring you back oh my gosh so you know
00:23:00thousands of people signed up for that
00:23:03and the people said I'd rather die on Mars than live on earth we interviewed one of them for StarTalk one of the people that signed up and you didn't have kids but is married and then he said something little peculiar which I don't know if he fully understood the ramifications of he said I showed my wifey application and she encouraged
00:23:26so she loves she's very supportive of me so who signs up for this clearly not everyone but those who do they're ready to go so they would be tomorrow's immigrants in a sense rather they're going to a place where there isn't a country politically establish country so they would be explorers they would be would they be calling me I know we talked and talked before I been like how how to spell Amari days and like you but I'm so comfortable I would be nice if the difference between the Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock here in the United States in the pilgrims who would land and Mars rock on Mars pictures of the pilgrims got off their ship they could breathe the air if their ship broke the trees in the new world were made out of wood just like the ones where they came from so the challenges however challenging
00:24:26what's the name or incomparable what it would take to do this on Mars right now walk me when we can imagine the city I please have the modules these bubbles that inside have Earth properties earth air air pressure to sort of thing but that's living on Earth on Mars that's not really living on Mars just to broaden my answer to your question if there is an expiration Gene Horsham manifestation of a combination of genes and that's what got immigrants to leave one place for better
00:24:59Shores then leaving Earth to another planet it seems to me would be entirely contained within that same urge now that all places on Earth have been Matt
00:25:11the surface of the Earth is the coastline of tomorrows ocean let's set sail in space leaving the surface of the Earth for planets that await us you're not trying to move are you don't you text me later I'm not one of those people
00:25:29so if you make it sound so you don't go tomorrow so you going to sign up and go tomorrow not until he sends his mother and successfully bring her back that been on ya boy just offer that you had like a problem with Elon musk's mother but you're at ya
00:25:53so do you understand the dry for people to move to America then even though you're here you're here you're boring and you don't know anything I want to distinguish people driven out of their Homeland because of war or famine pestilence whatever and people who just simply want a better opportunity or which which was very important in American history is people who left religious persecution in their home because in the United States we have no laws that established religions let me give you the world through the lens that I carry right now I've got some researchers compiling what fraction of Nobel laureates in America were born overseas so there's three main science categories physics biology fits physiology and chemistry
00:26:45and so right now we're but you physics halfway through biology going to get to chemistry later one third of all Nobel prizes that have gone to Americans
00:26:58one third of those Americans were born overseas
00:27:072% 1% 5% 10%. What is that like 40% so thing so some some rounding error as we were saying mathematics on our on your policy or on your what goes on in your Society they're not some special interests that will detract from what you want to do is an American your fundamental part of what America is and has become that's just the facts I just met the other two categories will come in around the same about a third but I'll have that confirmed in a little bit you know an immigrant that doesn't become a Nobel Laureate
00:28:06do you want to know about I need to step it up but I think he's not Academia he did but he the traffic Professor he works at a Princeton and he arrived here when he was four from the Dominican Republic and to this day remains on documented because it's very difficult to get documents to get status so he contributes it's a lot to American society teaches kids like he's like an incredible 90 wrote the book but when he was like a four-year-old living in the shelter system and undocumented little black boy from Dominican Republic but you wouldn't know that that he would become what he became
00:28:54but he had to stay here and artist it to ya ya sleep each night wondering what discoveries of this worldly unrevealed for want of opportunity by smart people who have no access and they could be a homeless kid in the street it could be a refugee from a country with no opportunity in front of them but the need to survive we've been lucky that much probably not the right where we've been fortunate here in the United States that the smartest people in the world have come here so we didn't always have to produce the smart person to find the answer so the Manhattan Project
00:29:41where we bought the bomb most of the intellectual capital a symbol for that was foreign-born for an indicated are some German among them and he wrote down the equation but
00:30:07what disturbs me as an academic cousin XD Mia your currency is your depth of thought okay I have strong you are and how beautiful you are and how you carry yourself it's your depth of thought and when I see people making policy decisions that are under informed
00:30:31I worried that we are shaping a country and a country's conduct based on a false or incomplete information
00:30:43and that's the beginning of the end of an informed democracy the day that happens so when people say
00:30:51immigrants are taking my job
00:30:54were you picking grapes in the field is that what you were just doing right now were you pushing the tables in this restaurant with a medical doctor walks in who's an immigrant from Betsy South America are you going to say Hey you took my job I was going to be a doctor so disappointed in the educational system that we could breed an entire electorate that makes decisions that that do not factor in all the information so that's my lament you need to put you in charge I said this before I know you don't want to be I know I know I know thank you yeah
00:31:47are you sure oh my God
00:31:51I'm a servant of other people's curiosity so I have nothing to add stories actually it's kind of amazing isn't many people who want to do good if others hearing their story can improve their life why not had that urge it's like if you don't have that urge you not really carrying your weight as a member of society or more broadly as a participant in Civilization itself we are the collective wisdom
00:32:29of those who come before us and had they not share their wisdom once again we still be in the cave
00:32:41dr. show and it brings up to the end of season 2 of the orange sweater at Maeve Higgins in on Instagram and Facebook at Maven America meanwhile you can listen to put it it's a wrap did Debbie come up as if you heard earlier and Hari kondabolu well they're back for another season and it begins on March 29th I can't wait to listen no thank you so much for listening and supporting our stove and it wouldn't have been possible without our guest and their families whose generosity and honesty have just being extraordinary in America is a joint production of pretty good friend that's priceless media what a Dream Team thank you so much for making it podcast possible of this episode was produced by Shanna fineberg withheld from Erika Romero Christmas time they only westwater week Priyanka sreenivasan Lisa I'm allowed Nick borenstein matches and Pat Metheny Miller who wrote Everything music stand
00:33:41I asked you that's what I used to live. The Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley and Sarah toddler all right last request please rate and review the show on iTune so that other people can find it thank you so much for listening to me but America
00:34:04we're almost finished we just began I know but I don't want to do is steal my day it's you
00:34:13lock the door we got it

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