ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Bassem Youssef risked everything to create an impact. He was living in Egypt. And a revolution was happening. Everyday, he would go to the streets of the protests and try to help the wounded. Then he’d go home. And watch the news. That’s when he saw how the media was lying to the people. So Bassem started a Youtube channel where he reported what was REALLY happening in his country. He did this with satire and comedy. He relieved the tension of the country. Egypt has 80 million people. And in weeks, 30 million were watching Bassem. And the weird part is he had no background in media. Bassem was a heart surgeon turned truth teller. And he was rewarded for it. In 2013, “TIME Magazine” named Bassem Youssef “one of the most influential people in the world.” This podcast is about the revolution in Egypt and Bassem’s journey through it. But it’s also about creating content people want and need. And telling a story that changes lives.

 

Links and Resources

Listen to Bassem’s podcast “Remade in America

Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring” by Bassem Youssef

Follow Bassem on Twitter 

Tickling Giants - the documentary about Bassem directed by Sara Taksler 

Also Mentioned

The Daily Show

Jon Stewart

Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell

 

 

I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at jamesaltucher.com/podcast.

 

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English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:02your average business podcast and he's not your average host on the choose yourself network today on the jeans out at your show you were doing satire up against and the lord Terry and government and then risking everything by turning it into a TV show and it wasn't just
00:00:24any TV show there's eighty million people in Egypt and thirty million people watching a TV show and you left being a heart surgeon at age thirty seven to do that first question I have is when you stop being a doctor to do YouTube videos was your wife upset
00:00:42well I it happened this way I didn't just like switch from medicine what happened was that you and every Lucien I was a regular doctor went down to the streets to feed the people who were wounded and injured in the clashes against the pro government forces I didn't
00:00:57have she came to my mind in have you two been my mind at but every day that I will go back home I would see the the state run media and see how these days cued the through how the spread to fake news and lies and rumors and
00:01:11brainwashed masses and I was upset you have the most popular show out there what was it do you think that kind of made you stand apart from the other shows the way that they were running the media was very stiff and what happened was I made fun of
00:01:24this and I think people need I think people needed someone to speak about this because it's so ten years and you're almost providing permission to relieve the tension exactly and the venues caught fire and I thought maybe ten thousand people walked in and there were millions watching I
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00:04:14James to download their free crushing the five barriers to growth guide today let's we dot com slash James this episode is sponsored by lending club let me tell you why I like lending club it's peer to peer lending so you're not dealing with old outdated corporations when you
00:04:38need a loan think about this if you're carrying reviving dad not paying off your card every month you could be paying thousands in interest every year that you don't have to with lending club consolidate your debt or pay off credit cards with one fixed monthly payment since two
00:04:56thousand seven lending club has helped millions of people regain control of their finances but affordable fixed rate personal loans no trips to a bank no high interest credit cards so go to lending club dot com slash James check your ray in minutes and bar up to forty thousand
00:05:15dollars that's lending club dot com slash James lending club dot com slash James all loans are made by webbank member of the FDIC equal housing lender so I am so excited to have Bassem Youssef there's so many things about your background I almost don't even know where to
00:05:41start the intro but you are the ideal example of someone who's completely re created your life and career several times and made a Norma successes out of it each time but that's only the beginning so time sorry for the long intro time made you one of the hundred
00:06:03most influential people in the world in twenty thirteen %HESITATION that's just a start but essentially you are a heart surgeon then you became a in Egypt then around the time of the Arab spring so called revolution you started doing YouTube videos about it they got millions and millions
00:06:23of use you switch careers to comedy you got a TV show that got tens of millions of viewers a week then eventually if you were considered the John stored of Egypt that eventually due to problems with the government Egypt you moved here to America and now you're recreating
00:06:42yourself again we have a podcast you just started re made in America is that we and I'm so happy to have you on the plaque at exit was rubbing me I mean I feel like they they injure doesn't do it justice because like here someone could say oh
00:07:00you made some YouTube videos and you got a TV show and it kind of is just like this nice little thing like oh I did some sketches and now it's a TV show but you were like go doing satire up against an authoritarian government and kind of on
00:07:16the run and and then risking everything by turning it into a TV show and it wasn't just any TV show this does eighty million people in Egypt and thirty million people are watching a TV show and now you're here and and you left being a heart surgeon at
00:07:32age thirty seven to do that this first question I have is when you left we stop being a doctor to do YouTube videos was your wife upset well I did it happen this way I didn't just like switch from medicine into will you two videos what happened was
00:07:48that you in their evolution I was a regular doctor went down to the streets and to to fix people wants to treat the people who were wounded and injured in the clashes with the against the pro government forces I didn't have into teams in my mind and have
00:08:05you two been my mind at but every day that I will go back home I would see to state run media and see how they use S. cued the truth how the %HESITATION spread to fake lies at a fake news and lies and and rumors and brainwashed masses
00:08:23and I was upset at him and you know I I want to mention on because of residences and enjoyed you but you're sort of touching on a lot of this you describe in your excellent book which I encourage everyone to read revolution for dummies it's how you were
00:08:37going into a careerist grammar a lot of the revolution where a lot of the protests were happening and you wanted to help people you're bring food you of course you bring your medical services and the the army or the thugs at that you know who are the pro
00:08:51government forces were stopping you but then you took a risk like you had to you had to get there somehow and people were getting hurt there like how did you get to the center of things he could help people and we were afraid of getting their window does
00:09:04a safe passage for doctors to go in and try to help the people so we kind of that was secured by the revolutionaries and I I did that almost every day bring in medical supplies and try to fix the ones and try to heal the people what ones
00:09:19without what was happening that there was like all kind of look cartoons broken ones they were like and there's a lot of eye doctors that were on site because the a lot of people were hurt having shots in their eyes and a it into that is a very
00:09:32very brutal does like a war zone as a heart doctor though does that give you enough I mean this is how naive I am about medicine but as a heart doctor does that give you enough general skills to help kind of do the wounds that occurred the the
00:09:47many various ones that could occur what is the kind of situation we were doing that kind of like a first aid you know anything that to spice specialized would try as you to go to the nearest hospital but we did I didn't go there to before mark surgery
00:09:59just a simple stitches and said and and that to stitch wounds and to have to leave their cuts and that kind of well the worst you had to heal %HESITATION the vote is like a very very bad %HESITATION deep wound in the neck as thank god that did
00:10:18not get any hate any deep the arteries or veins but that was like a very long kind of like I think it took that kind of search two stitches or something so later on I'm gonna ask you about kind of on the political context of revolution versus pro
00:10:36government not only in Egypt but zooming out globally in and your view on that but I wanna also I wanna start first with kind of the the career stuff so you're doing this you have some friends that want you to end your notice saying kind of the the
00:10:51fake news slant that the that's happening in the government controlled media I have some friends who are encouraging you to do a you tube video what what should happen next so I did the juvie use while I was waiting actually formed by papers to arrive from Cleveland because
00:11:07I was accepted to start that epigenetic costs are you fellowship in Cleveland given our clinic no in that rainbow hospital for children because Cleveland at that time given to an Indian half the Jessica search shows accepted in that hospital the other house with it and I was a
00:11:22rock we just waiting for the H. one visa to arrive and then the revolution happened and then as well after we got rid of the thirty years old sixty that says here's the that the teacher that was there for thirty years water I started to the videos and
00:11:38out I didn't really think anything about the future then leave medicine I was like I'm just killing time until my papers are right and the videos caught fire and I thought maybe ten thousand people watching than there were millions watching how to how to day so so a
00:11:54described like that very first video and be what's your theory on you know obviously many people create great you two videos some catch fire most don't what's your theory on why yours caught fire before but first describe the very first video the video is basically satirizing how the
00:12:11state run media we're very creative in telling people how would know don't do don't go down to the streets there were like using all kinds of lies that will make a %HESITATION there are mujahideen there are terrorists there are people having sex in all kind of like the
00:12:28stupid lies so you don't obviously just say these are lies like how to use you would get it's kind of like I I was very influenced by the daily show Stein so it was like viewed you coming back to comment on it's creating a narrative over the shoulders
00:12:46of pictures it was that kind of of of side like it said it's it's the a very knocked off a version of the issue and and you know this is satire is almost hand given to your hair as opposed to let's say in America where it's I I
00:13:04feel like it's I don't say it's hard to do said Hey would you were kind of you have these %HESITATION almost fundamentalists or or serious fundamentalists who are on the pro government side saying oh there's sex happening at the protest that was delayed but usually but these were
00:13:21not even Islamist they were like you know that because the government was not this lambs at when you save on the months basically the pro regime the radical pro regium nationalistic people and the the way that they want to alienate people of their sex though boys and girls
00:13:37dancing their people having go sexual relationships like that's an amazing marketing for that the square yeah that's why more people will go I I feel like that's a slam dunk for satire like they cashed in again I'd be pitch you an easy pets should not baseball to exactly
00:13:54how yeah because it it was very the way that they were running the media was very stupid and will happen was I I made fun of this and and and I think people needed this I think the reason edges not just like the video was good or bad
00:14:09I think people needed someone to speak about this because it's so tenuous and you're almost providing a way you almost providing permission to relieve the tension exactly like so people could share the video to their cousin and say look it's okay to this is rich this is this
00:14:28guy's explaining how ridiculous it is and it's kind of funny yes and so so what what what do you think happened was there kind of a big a big personality that started retweeting ours we're sharing early on was the most organic democratic sh the spread of an idea
00:14:45people with those numbers and be personality doing they were they just like regular people as as if there was a feeling that like we own this now we can actually push what we want as content not waiting for the government to tell us what to push or not
00:14:59so people are just watching this video and spreading into the reading it and then in a couple of weeks I've there's millions and then five million I I from ten thousand to five million at what point literally at what number did you realize hi my love my life
00:15:13might have just changed no I didn't really think about that it was not like a really a point where I thought my life has changed but what would that did the trigger walls when network started calling saying we don't have any quick that they were calling that by
00:15:30by the second week by the second week there is that because nobody had made a video in Egypt they got like five million views before no no no no it was not about the numbers it's was about for the first time people so someone speaking truth to power
00:15:47but you okay that's an interesting thing because in the U. S. network stone call when you speak the truth networks call when you have the numbers and so you're actually saying in Egypt the networks call because you had a a an appeal in a bi as that was
00:16:02different than the other general I was answering the question why do people watch so as to where the numbers came from %HESITATION so when peoples that will in it to school with whatever is popular yeah and in that time that was popular and so but they saw those
00:16:15popular like right away like all my gosh yes that this is huge this is like the gang them style of Egypt yes that was the other losers like %HESITATION catching fire and then people I I I I I I don't I didn't know by then if I would
00:16:30actually be good as a TV host I had and I didn't have any experience at so I found myself signing the contract for my first TV show in the same day that the H. one visas came from give and so now you had a decision to make I
00:16:49had a decision to make should I pursue a life of at into fame and money or should I continue healing people's hearts so I chose the money but no they do think is like I put I I even at that time I didn't quit medicine I put medicine
00:17:06on hold at all not just minutes and all that the that the travel to Cleveland to travel to the United States at all and I continued actually performing my duties as a doctor in debt as a faculty member in a terrorist you a hospital how did your colleagues
00:17:23feel about your new like obviously you were starting to be recognized in the street yes %HESITATION how to do it I was very I thought it was a little bit very uncomfortable you doing rounds with a professor leading the round and you're one of them doctors there and
00:17:36you get all the attention from the patients so that was very uncomfortable and jealous as as some of them were welcoming some of them had some insecurity pregnant anyone sit down and say listen you really need to focus on being a better doctor not to I hear that
00:17:51I heard that and %HESITATION but I promised my mom was a typically Lisa mom that I would continue to being a doctor on the site in in in in your book %HESITATION revolution for dummies you make a joke I think was in the book or maybe an interview
00:18:05but I think was in the book that you were you know you know you went to a good school year our heart surgeon %HESITATION you're almost like a good Jewish son yes exactly and and now here and obviously you become the black sheep in a Jewish family if
00:18:19you go for medicine did comedy so my mom my mom's condition to continue to with the entertainment is to keep the medicine so I kept it for a year and a half but then I couldn't because not just like my scheduled becoming crazy is because the most and
00:18:32brother with after they arrived into power the started harassing me and kind of like pressure me into my workplace so I didn't want to give advice on so sorry to interrupt a minute after it is so the kind of like started to question you know there's like whenever
00:18:47you work in a government facility there is so many ways to you know %HESITATION to get you especially if the government the you make fun of the government owns the facility now so they started to so I was like when a leave of absence so they started to
00:19:02investigate the leave of absence ash and the size that you know what I'm not I'm not gonna give them anything to pressure me so I resigned I resigned from and that was kind of officially me leaving medicine but so I continue so to answer you initial question what
00:19:21what we did when did you would do is leave medicine to the year two we just know that actually happened a year and a half ago into my show so so you sort of tongue in cheek said %HESITATION do I spend a lifetime you know saving lives with
00:19:34medicine nor do I do empty famine and money was comedy that's not quite true because your videos and shell were obviously having an impact on the way the citizens of Egypt were viewing their country and their government you were making you were you were instrumental in changing the
00:19:56way people thought about what was happening the country there I mean what was it like forty percent of the country are watching your show is so so it's not and that's not anti fame you actually have making a difference in having an impact so so I'll call you
00:20:09I I appreciate the tongue in cheek but you know you can argue saving lives on one hand it also may be informing tens or hundreds of millions of people over time I'm what's happening in this very dire situation is also meaningful and impactful and it's not just about
00:20:26the money and and so on yeah yeah well let me in the week we are that's why we will consent I who make fun of everything even of our life decisions then then I I continue with my in the show and after a year of the first day
00:20:42the first season that was a very small show pre recorded in a small studio then I said at the end of the season I'd want to do this anymore I want this to be a big life all ages show with a real theater and this is something never
00:20:56happen in Egypt and everybody ridiculed me this has never gonna happen is gonna be big budget you can lose money nobody's gonna buy this and I said I don't care I don't want to do I don't want to do the easy stuff anymore so I travel to do
00:21:12it to New York I and I met the team for the daily show somehow I I persisted that I want to meet them and they accepted that I will chat with them for a couple days and I said in my mind may be able to snap a picture
00:21:28with Jon Stewart and I got more than this because John invited me to his office and I thought that would be a nice five minute chat continued for an hour and then a couple of minutes minutes after the that that meeting the the Booker the the one who
00:21:47handled the guest and would you like to be a guest on the show and course I said yes and that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship and that and then I appeared a total of four times on Jon Stewart show and I told him on that day
00:22:03I will make you proud I'm gonna go back to use them but I agree create the biggest show life or dislike you and I was invited to that theater and a year after he came he was on in Egypt on my show to support me and he was
00:22:18a guest on my show and he's only feature is very proud of me was a very proud of my team and I mean did he I'm sure this was of an incredible experience like this is your hero your inspiration in in comedy for you two videos for your
00:22:31show on did he consider even producing your show in Egypt atonal producers who needed this system is different it is this is something we take money for the network that and we do it it's you that he will not get involved in something like this that was a
00:22:47totally different bowl game I we will he came after the show has already established again when you were making this shift this change what what what self doubt did you have like obviously you would put in you know fifteen years studying and doing medicine and you had just
00:23:07been doing a you tube videos I get admittedly there's nine hundred nineteen years I did nineteen years of studying and working as medical as a medical doctor and then I do this and and the set of doubt because I'm a good enough to do this and I have
00:23:19no experience I have no history why am I doing this I will lose felt that %HESITATION undeserving and how do you overcome that because I was you you may you never overcame a but obviously you die I I never I never realized that to this day and I
00:23:38never overcame I never never overcome and and do you think that's a benefit do you do better if your camera I don't know I a I lose live with that continue self doubt if I'm good enough to do this at because even when I came to come here
00:23:58to America now I do so comedy in English understand and enables ask myself why why would I actually a sexy where there are other people doing it for twenty years and I don't know if I'm good enough to do the item I don't have the experience I don't
00:24:13have the the training and and was why am I doing this so you you do though have so so this this list Segways into an interesting thing which as you know I'm sure you've read Malcolm Gladwell is out liars where he talks about okay you need ten thousand
00:24:33hours of experience something before you are among the best in the world and when you're first to to stand up or even being a talk show host many of those guys or were women have put in ten thousand hours of experience like Jon Stewart before he started the
00:24:50daily show he'd already been ten thousand hours doing stand up doing shows being involved in a variety of projects and then finally he does the daily show and what what what do you think that do you think do you think the ten thousand hours is necessary to find
00:25:05your your voice is the greatest I I mean I don't know it sounds credible but at the end that's what makes me scared because I didn't put out that much time and that's why a loose feel that I am undeserving because out of nothing I became a TV
00:25:21also the biggest show in Egypt in history not actually used in the in the mid eighties when you have forty million people watching you is the successful the more success than it ever happened you'll lose ask what what did I put into it and and what what skills
00:25:35that you that you had that you're bringing into it and whether they were skills or talents is is something we talk about what skills do you bring into the talk show even the first season where you were getting over you know ten million viewers I'm what what made
00:25:49you the best I don't know I added I'm I'm I'm really struggling with that question is because you were the only one I don't believe that you know there was other people but the thing is like I always wanted to have a message because there are other people
00:26:01who are funnier than me there are other people who are even more experience than me but maybe the only thing that I wanted I wanted to show to matter I wanted to see already we're not gonna just do easy jokes we are going to have a message every
00:26:15time we make people laugh and then goal let's go home thinking so give me an example of what's like in an easy job that you could have done in Egypt at the time as and then you taking it and pushing it a little further so would have a
00:26:31message but still keep its humor so there there's two incidences one under the Muslim Brotherhood in on under the military so I said blossom of brotherhood was that so yeah we need to expand his street after the revolution this comes about into power Muslim Brotherhood and then after
00:26:53a year they kind of alienated people from democracy and then the army came and presented themselves as a savior people welcome them and that was actually a military coup and then the minute she ruled the central in right now is for more see the CC yes from washes
00:27:07CC so under the military date I then said they found a cure for aids this is the most ridiculous invention ever and the invention looked it looked ridiculous at the guy who announced that the general looked ridiculous and it was so many easy jokes there but what we
00:27:29did is that we took that to hold that military accountable to call them out and we did something very simple that after each show even if we're not talking about the it's machine we'll put the countdown clock telling reminding people of what the deadline that they admitted she
00:27:47said that they're going to release did did did that your and people waiting for this moment every single time this something very simple so so like the easy joke these years ago look at Soldier they'd look at him you know I was like look what they did said
00:28:02but that that is that but what what what do you think that is that is only experience was beating up people and to risk where yeah and suddenly you know he has his invention parades yeah yeah but that but that that that's very easy at that but but
00:28:14then the the under the Muslim Brotherhood daisy old was made to the statement that they are much fewer than us as Muslims so we just equated them with **** and that was the bigger idea because you can always like Dick award and make fun of the word but
00:28:31what is the over arching idea of what's what's what was he saying so with that with this the mist is that there are fewer than us and they are superior race with the army we can all do any wrong we can do wrong all wrong we are we
00:28:47are perfect but why would they why would they take that platform of claiming to be perfect and pick something like aids cycle we found a cure for aids like why would I've never heard a government like declare that the arrogance the thing they can get away with anything
00:29:03white and they just say always found a cure for the common cold it doesn't matter it doesn't matter because it because people don't realize that all that many dictatorships are very competent and their stupid because they are used to the fact that it's a one way conversation and
00:29:18people don't really ask or question so so this questioning so let me let me pose an idea and and see what you think of it to some extent you know you're nineteen years in medicine medicine is a lot about skepticism so you look at a patient you don't
00:29:36yet know what's wrong with them they say something you examined the body and the data maybe suggest something else and it's a matter of give and take figuring out what is the actual palm and you push yourself to find the right problems you could find the right solution
00:29:51and maybe you borrowed from those ten thousand hours of being skeptical in the medical field to be able to be skeptical where the patient is the country itself and the proposed solutions often seem ridiculous men and maybe that same skills that somehow you borrowed from into your satire
00:30:12maybe bit late at the end of the day comments at tires will also what the delivery and experience on stage and and that I never have so you can have a good skeptical mind but does that make you a treat speaker or a great comedian agreed stand up
00:30:27and this is why coming back to the idea like a my deserving or not let's stop to take a quick break we'll be right back I have a special ebook then I'm giving way right now rather than publishing all over the place of just giving it to you
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00:35:32to peer lending platform with over thirty five billion dollars in loans issued go to lending club dot com slash games check your ray in minutes and bar up to forty thousand dollars that's lending club dot com slash James lending club dot com slash James all loans made by
00:35:51webbank member of the FDIC equal housing lender so tell me like when you're onstage and again you have the most popular show out there so it doesn't matter that there are other shows you obviously had something what was it do you think in your delivery or in your
00:36:10approach that kind of made you stand apart from the other shows I think people didn't just watches every week for the easy laughs because as I said they're much people people are fine I think admissions humor but they were watching us every week because they were waiting for
00:36:29us to tell them what's going on in the country and what is our point of view the X. you reach for the show for guidance which is interesting and flattering with also very dangerous because you have all of this responsibility laid on you of people wanting you to
00:36:46be the changer but we're not which is like telling them what's happening one even Jon Stewart would would always when people would say Hey I get all my news from the daily show Jon Stewart was always careful to say listen were a comedy show first we're not a
00:37:03news show yes even though the reality is many people gather news from the daily show and the thing is that yet and as it said this is that when people get frustrated with the politicians and with the news media they turn to comedians because we don't ask you
00:37:16for anything other than giving you a good time and of laughter but that the danger is that people tend to much fat sectors and comedian and think that they have the answer and that's that's that's very dangerous well it's it's a it's a it's a gray area going
00:37:31back thousands of years I just think the the mythology around the court jester the court jester is supposed to be the only one in the court who could tell the king that the truth man and the kings I whether the king lessons are killed them I don't know
00:37:44but digest supposedly the jesters role and that's the role you kind of played in Egypt you were Egypt's jester yes and so again in terms of delivery what skills that you have to learn to to how did you improve added I mean I'm sure you watch your video
00:37:58each week and studied at how did you improve to improve your delivery what were some of the skills you learned why in the very first season why you're doing this to slow down yeah to feel and then at the end and see the words more to listen to
00:38:15the audience was I mean ed to listen to the room because and this is actually the way it's a continuous live because now when I'm doing stand up in English which is a tool to re wiring of the brain because you see Jon Stewart started as a stand
00:38:34up comedian way back and most of these holes that you see right now they started to stand up comedians most of them and then they became hosts became hosts I never did stand up comedy in Egypt I ate from doctor to host and then from host coming here
00:38:53doing stand up comedy in English not my language never did stand up comedy in the Arabic they'll come here doing stand up in English to an audience is not mine to the language is not mine so the the destruction is happening in my brain trying to overcome this
00:39:11so I learned to be comfortable with the silence to overcome the silence be comfortable with the pauses deposed the pauses itself or statements and to bring people in into ward instead of being frustrated at the a few jokes are not working I wanna get to the stand up
00:39:34in his anger that's part of how you're recreating yourself in America and I I would argue stand up is one of the most difficult skills out there now I'm talking to a heart surgeon which I'm sure is an incredibly difficult I would say is really up there and
00:39:53that I I myself have been doing stand up in this very club that we're doing this Pakistan and %HESITATION it's it's it's one of the most fascinating inventions of of my life after many re inventions but it seems with you you could well let's talk about seven a
00:40:10second I want to continue with that the journey that you talk your your you you know you went from first season to to then show without a live audience I guess you wanted the live audience because you get that that visceral feedback as you're doing your yes that
00:40:23only a big time because at a big different all huge difference to energy that you get from the audience would just like incredible incredible lake night and day and you know there's something interesting to about having an audience for a TV show like yours which is not the
00:40:40audience is not random like when you do stand up at a comedy club the audience's random most often than not there to see you they might not even know who you are now that's saying it I want to just mention to blessings as you have ten million Twitter
00:40:54followers you have millions of Instagram followers I'm sure every social media platform you have millions of followers so people around the world know you but here in the United States probably not everyone knows who you are and so when you do stand up in a club not everyone
00:41:08knows who you are you kinda have to convince them ever from start every time you go up like me find me funny find my point of view interesting and so on but when you have a live audience at a show in Egypt people who are in the audience
00:41:23you you've they they've almost preselected themselves to you you have an audience that likes you you don't have to educate them so to some extent the audience there is if in the audience here because they're they're more inclined to to like what you're saying and and laugh at
00:41:36and and give you that energy and and and help you figure out that feedback how to navigate it how did you see your she said your your delivery change because you started to appreciate the silence and and the and your pauses what we're learning from the silence of
00:41:52the audience they think you need to be comfortable with the silence because the economy is here usually gets nervous when there's silence in the room they need the laughter so I learned that like you need to slow down instead of rushing to the next joke because that will
00:42:07actually spoiled to jokes yeah and I think like you said when the silence often comedians get nervous and speed up and do it to doing the opposite idea is is important and and some to and also I learned that maybe they are silent because they listen to you
00:42:26they don't know to their non vocal but maybe they appreciate what you're saying so at least you want to tell yourself this space you if you if you talk about something deeper so I think it not to rush into the next year because it would just lake spoil
00:42:41the whole set well a lot of times there could be silenced because if he signs for three reasons maybe this sounds because they don't like you this size because they think you're funny but they're smiling inside it's not like a belly laugh kind of joke or their silence
00:42:58because you said something that's incredibly tense and they're still waiting for the tension to break and then they're gonna laugh yes and you can have to figure that out in real time and did you find that a lot on your show that okay their sound right now but
00:43:13I just said something really you know %HESITATION inciting an insightful and I just need to figure out how to break the tension so they can laugh well with the with the TV show it's going to be difficult because you're following a script the teleprompter and there's like a
00:43:29cue for videos a coming up so it has to it's a little bit difficult to actually break out of that in stand up yours is a free site but I think we were we just have to be confident in our material and know that this will work and
00:43:49and you got that confidence because you were in such a high stakes situation this is the this is that the lives of the entire country of of Egypt and beyond really because the the Arab spring was was hitting every country in the in the Middle East but also
00:44:06in the years after that you know kind of what was happening in Egypt was being looked at by by many countries how how revolution was working and you were kind of the voice of the other side and so so was important what what what you're doing and and
00:44:21it was high stakes and you know you could always fall back on your message I feel like in America there's not as much of a message to fall back on there's a billion philosophers slash comics who have an opinion either on fourth Feb or against trump and does
00:44:42America really need one more philosophers last comic is unclear and and there's tons of talk shows and again they have their biases each one of them but you were you were the only one in Egypt and that must be a difference you feel between Egypt and America yes
00:44:58because America is kind of saturated in that space it's everybody can do it they anybody can start the blood right now and or of love and do it within Egypt's it was a very very polarized %HESITATION country and I would I was nuts I was not I looked
00:45:20with anybody I was not with Islamists with Dimitry so people thought that like alright maybe as a point I although everybody tried to Peck you like your for a while you're with them %HESITATION the owner of the station was a there Christians of people thought you were kind
00:45:35of a tool of that guy people would've at like any they will they will find that there is an ulterior motive of what I'm doing it's it's it's so for self interest money at Sir your do you are you are doing a hating this time is because you
00:45:48are a secret atheist and you hate that or secret Christian even at even though said I was called a secret you and your wife's Palestinian and it doesn't matter yet your wife Palestinian so you must have like some lecture him political motives than that and then I was
00:46:03against the minute she's a call you are a traitor you are actually being paid by America deals find a way that doesn't have to do anything with what you think or what you put your opinions are in order to bring you down this is how you discredit people
00:46:17so instead of the jump supported instead of actually dealing with the news they say it's fake news right you know so they kind of discredits from the beginning these are these are fake news these are like unfair whatever but but the only reason you're being attacked is because
00:46:34you were at a strong enough influence that you are a threat yell want it all to to put my pockets producer Steve calling your threat you're a target and you're becoming a target target to the point where eventually the government started state more they started closing in on
00:46:49you yes you were getting sued and this happened both under two regions on that Islamist I ended up having a warrant for my arrest and I had to actually be interrogated by the gym prosecutor and scared now you didn't even see this little age of sort of in
00:47:07between I feel in the sense that if you were in China being interrogated or if you were in some other very %HESITATION authoritarian regime they might take you in for interrogation on whatever see you again no trial nothing I was kind of focus on the doing of which
00:47:22showed that time and %HESITATION out I went when under the Islamists this image tried to stop the show but they couldn't because they were not strong enough then the military came and I have to say I was I admit that I was scared not because of what they
00:47:36can do to me but they got what could be due to the people around me because my producer they took his father and his brother in and the warehouse style and they stopped my short right there in the begin they stop actual twice the jam the my satellite
00:47:51signal because they control the communication again why couldn't they just throw you in jail and shut you out they wanted to do to appear because at that time they made it you want to to at it gain its legitimacy in a in front of the word now they
00:48:05don't care but at that time it was they wanted to prove that they were not a cool so they want to kind of make it as yeah as devious as possible on the other hand this boss was his uncle I mean I would it's not us I mean
00:48:20something happened the satellite we didn't stop you show it is of financial problems between him and the network and they of course they are the one who oppression the network and it took them a year to kind of like effectively shut me down because now they are more
00:48:35comfortable they were having now that military aid from America and make is that knowledge in them Europe is acknowledging them so they stayed thought that they can now move on and go completely shut down the media so it took them a year the military ed and the and
00:48:52then the came after me because they know they can get away with it and is where I escaped is so so you escape specifically at one point there was a lawsuit you lost there was lots of things to stay at the end and that includes because I didn't
00:49:08have a good position it was told to put it about this size for a verdict and it was a financial verdict you see this is the way they they get people there they don't get people because of freedom of expression in Egypt we have a very famous and
00:49:20very popular football plays soccer player is one of his like our lebron James basically and he's retired and he was the day he was known to be solicited sympathetic with the previous government and the the bottom for tax evasion and they confiscated all his money and he had
00:49:37to escape this is how they get you so so when you moved to America so during one you know they were because they were close again your they're coming to get you whether it was your money or you or your family whatever you moved to America you had
00:49:51you had ninety minutes the basically pack up and get to the airport you're even afraid at that point they would have already put you on the no fly list but fortunately cannot lucky because it was just like a couple of hours after the verdict so they didn't have
00:50:04time CCC flew out to do by the essentially the closest place you can get to miss and into but once you're in the body felt safe you didn't feel that Egypt's clause would would know why I didn't scenes of ground and save because they still in this and
00:50:19have them talk communications and I don't know if I'm gonna be deported anything with like I felt like it let relatively safe we able to pull their money out we were already and some of it yes but but at the end I felt that like if I'm going
00:50:32to stay in that area I'm not gonna be able to do to be free of to say what I want so so you you move to the United States there is a documentary about you taking joins tickling giants amazing set that's there whose %HESITATION %HESITATION produce for the
00:50:49daily show for ten years and she followed me since the day I went into the office of Jon Stewart and again I highly encourage people to to watch that and %HESITATION and now you start this new podcast %HESITATION remade in America and what's what are your challenges was
00:51:08you're you're you're one of the you the most famous person in Egypt you get to America you walk down the street people don't recognize you where you're ten million Twitter followers and that they're not on Hollywood Boulevard dinner and %HESITATION and there is a two hundred thousand podcast
00:51:24including this one and there's there's five thousand working stand up comics there's there's you know news income newsflash coming early to talk shows on every single channel you know going from the late night show on down and you know is very very good ones just recently started on
00:51:43on Netflix would just basically every Allah has as kind of politically oriented satire news shows you're doing stand up where do you see this is this is an amazing record reinvention as well because where at how's it going these are things I had to deal with money with
00:52:05myself and I need to acknowledge that the days of my shows in Egypt where I was the biggest thing there is behind me is the legacy and I created this legacy and the legacy will stay and I will not make this be in the way over and over
00:52:20but the because you know that this ego involved you shouldn't let that eagle be in the way of you trying to reinvent yourself you because I'm here and I'm totally acknowledge the fact that I am here in a different playing field I can feel entitled I know there's
00:52:38there's absolutely tight meddling expect doors to be opened for me I need to earn this so when I do stand up I when I'm trying material I'd go too small a comedy club in Los Angeles and when the announcers no me and he said I'm gonna introduce and
00:52:56see the chances and then I don't see it as just a best in from Egypt and I go there what a blog is that having seen me maybe haven't seen the daily show and I need to earn my place there I need to I need to earn their
00:53:08approval so I'm I'm at the age of forty four two kids and a wife I'm doing what twenty two years old young %HESITATION strip at struggling actors doing what waiting tables and trying to find their way into a new field while I'm doing it as a disadvantage because
00:53:27English is not my first language too but but are you doing stand up to become a great stand up comedian out now obviously you always want to improve but you know what what's do you have an outcome in mind that you wanna against I. tie will I will
00:53:46I wish I wish to my own talk show as they did in Egypt and I wanted to be different and stand up is a what a great segue to do that so maybe now I actually should follow the normal fat instead of just like sprouting out as a
00:54:01host I need to do things the right way and I need to give it time and I need to work on myself and invest into my abilities on myself to be a deserving well you know on the one hand I mean of course I agree with you that
00:54:17that's always a good thing but again there is something to be said by the fact that you were able to create with competition the number one show given number one comedy slash satire slash new show in Egypt with that's Egypt right but there are skills from there that
00:54:34you could bring here which is what I see from you is this ability to push a little further than the easy like we're doing this podcast above a comedy club and I see the comedians there every night the easy jokes make the crowd laugh and then there is
00:54:50a tendency I think for many comedians to get addicted to the easy jokes because it just isn't easy dopamine facts Argo up for ten fifteen minutes get the crowd to laugh known can criticize me and we'll see but how do you find yourself and you probably see the
00:55:05same thing when when you go out so how how are you now trying to put your skill it seems to me is to be able to put your your Scott reinvention is to be able to push that pickle an area and push that one layer deeper where you're
00:55:18where you become unique and how do you see yourself doing that and and stand up we'll I am I consider myself a little bit different so many of the comics because first of all I am not an Arab American comedian goes Arab American comedian essentially American right they
00:55:35did but they they got up stage they made fun of their backgrounds and yet another pair and yet they and they were raised here they were born here I came fresh of the boat a couple of years ago from that area so I am an Arab speaking to
00:55:48you in your language telling you stuff about my people and how I perceived here and I will you are perceived to my country and this duality is it makes it in elven at lake creates an interesting mix so I make fun of hypocrisy that they seem to make
00:56:04a deal to make fun of the books that they see in religious people and the people that come in and in politics in India and the Middle East and I try to draw similarities between what you see here and see their level of example well you know the
00:56:20whole idea about a focus in religion it's it's the same the IT how is %HESITATION trump is very similar to some of the teachers and how the a day the gun supporters here or not no similar for the patriotic voices and my mouth pieces back in Egypt and
00:56:41and I speak about my life as an Arab Muslim immigrants here being the usual suspect every time something happens here soon find do you find that %HESITATION and by the way that promise is always funny the fact that every Muslim or Arab I have I have to explain
00:57:00myself wise as they is like why don't you speak why did you speak louder what do you want me to I will upload empire state and check out what do you want me to do so so I'm do you find that in your stand up and and we'll
00:57:17tell your pockets a second also but you find that in your stand up crowds are less likely to laugh because they're not it's not the standard set up punch line that they used to in a comedy club but you're able to get them kind of thinking a little
00:57:34more deeply because you're pointing out the similarities between let's say authoritarian governments and what where we are now you know using satire what will actually I have had the like a really good run in Joe's pub because I'm I think the stand up was able to have the
00:57:50best of both worlds we have really big laughs but we also have worked with people thinking and the thinking creates tension and then you end up with a big laugh so it is quite like I think one of the people Jo spoke to use the word this is
00:58:06a very loaded stand up and it's a very loaded stand up like and and yesterday that they were like at if people from India Indian directors that came from the my agents and they said I could not actually I I never lost focus for one I was like
00:58:21there was at being attention for a whole hour and this is what I like about the did was look loaded was full of ideas and it was relevant and it was it was more of a story in there did not separate jokes that doesn't relate to each other
00:58:34is a story that there is like an art that you're creating between my journey from starting in Egypt coming all the way yeah you know it's it's interesting because I'm fifty I've been doing stand up for about three years and like you said I'll have the twenty years
00:58:54experience of many people who go up downstairs but when they started twenty two they also don't have the life experience yes so you're able to draw from life experience this this very strange thing happened to me that I'm gonna explain why it's strange and not in itself is
00:59:14is different and funny that they don't expect like this is what you can expect as you as you grow older and observe like and if you have an odd kind of life we have a a life filled with reinvention and in high stakes situations these sorts of things
00:59:27can happen and they're loaded not and that's where some of the humor comes from but the challenge and just in terms of a craft level is still turning into the punch line yes do you do you run across that we like I've got this great story but what
00:59:42will they think is that they have a sort of someone who got persecuted for his jokes and that's something unique and use that issues that the people that would like to listen I mean there's a whole set up bit in my job at my future as a routine
00:59:54where I speak about the time when I was persecuted and and and interrogated for six hours what is like to interrogate a comedian for six hours in a row so that is something that people will listen to because they they will never listen to it anywhere else set
01:00:09so that's a funny premise and and often the best way to have a funny punch lines to start with a funny premise but do you do you still find yourself working hard to crack you know pushing that extra layer to come up with the funny punch line to
01:00:20this yes absolutely it is second it's a work in progress it's the whole time yes and then you also have your podcast in fact we've we've shared a couple of a very interesting gas like Jordan Peterson and and Sheila Nevins and I'm sure they'll be they'll be others
01:00:36in the future and %HESITATION how's how's it going in general like how are you you know again this is a total reinvention you were number one in Egypt now you're here how are you doing financial a well is going to be like that the public speaking is going
01:00:53well %HESITATION idled lectures and public speaking and that actually helped me and %HESITATION I've got little support to my agents and the %HESITATION I'm it's going well at eight and I think I'm like everybody else in the entertainment business waiting for a big break so I hope the
01:01:13big break will come maybe some executives in some that'll say alright we need that voice right now because there's nobody from my part of the what is being represented why not do the same thing you did in Egypt which is essentially you chose yourself to create your first
01:01:27show you did on you to wait here here the market is to saturate it would be that it's not going to be like an easy ride like what happened memo saying that in Egypt was easy but it's just take as you said it's the contours everywhere you feel
01:01:41here it's more important to get the blessing of some network executive yes because or is he just going to be like one of thousands of loggers doing it but at the same time look at media in America I mean Netflix's spending thirteen billion a year on original programming
01:01:58they've got two hundred shows up there I don't even know a hundred ninety nine of the shows yank like TV is also saturated I know but like at least you get more visibility and you will get the chance to have a show to speak your mind and then
01:02:14you are into the competition and you prove yourself I say so so just getting your foot in the door years for pushing yourself to find that one layer deeper that makes you different and then you see what happens then you then you prove yourself actually so so what
01:02:29are the given that you've gone through this sort of wrap up reinvention several times and again in in pretty high stakes situation it's not like you're switching from working at a grocery store to working in a shoe store you're like you know going from being a doctor to
01:02:47being the voice against the government to being in America so hugely inventions what are some of the skills of reinvention that you feel you've carried from career to career the I think being a doctrine beginner and being present is the most important thing we mean being a nerd
01:03:08being under this someone who's like resistant about knowing the knowledge and studying so I study study a lot am and will end like for let's say for standard which which I agree with you is kind of bills the building block of skills for a talk show host or
01:03:23for many other things what what do you study to learn the soul o'connell all old standard second watch and that we even knew it was either as George Carlin old school but the end but trite but right now even when I in the car and I listen to
01:03:41Sirius XM dad the commercial and it will lose listen I listen to their pauses and where do they pause I listen to an expected joke at expected to take how the switch in like the reversals in another going out one way to get another right you know there's
01:03:59also as various comments are known more everybody every comedian sort of known for their thing like some people are insult comic some people are straight set up punch line and some people are storytellers like my poor Biglia as a storytelling comic enough like special gaggle man storytelling style
01:04:16comic and many of those might fit you are style and approach because a lot of political comics but I think again we're almost saturated because of trump we've become saturated with political commentary yes and you know just as a final thing you know %HESITATION revolution is interesting like
01:04:37you can argue we'll break which everybody I know and I know nothing okay I've never even been to Egypt but you can argue that after thirty years of him being in power there was some stability there you were able to relatively safely grow up and build a career
01:04:55and do your thing then there's a revolution and suddenly it's the Islamist and control in the military in control and and this is kind of a worldwide phenomenon that change one always seems exciting is not necessarily for the better even if the prior situation was bad it you
01:05:13are okay let me answer you in the in a medical term yeah this is kind of like if you having a very slow growing cancer it's like I'm surviving and then you interfere and there's complication but you you stay there and you want to make the body better
01:05:31the thing is that having a cancer is not stability the city's only on the service and the reason why the ruching fatal because of their evolution is because the alternatives were killed will turn to this is that that the old democratic secular alternatives were all was put down
01:05:47by debt dictators new rules prop up the Islamists and the military so that will be your only two options so so the thing is this is not left the fold of evolution that what we're having right now is because of the festering dictatorship and companies that happened under
01:06:04the just under Mubarak thirty years with the third years before him with that with the military coming to pile this is the result of him not theirs writer Lucian that the is devotion is just what they do is they lift the lid well you are you are you
01:06:18passing a passing a lake a few walking over the sewers you don't really smell but there's the lids it doesn't mean that there's not **** that down there so so and you make the point in your book revolution for dummies that give the missed that Islam as and
01:06:34the military are often the same did the same and that land and if there's any kind of course late agreements to old bridge between two cities too on the be on the behalf of the expense of whatever liberal forces there and and I wonder if it's because of
01:06:49just rising income inequality worldwide you know %HESITATION like in in the Middle East friends is because of oil there is it becomes for class that doesn't have access to the resources of while in there is the upper classes and then the corrupt classes does what does rising inequality
01:07:09ever have a solution that's peacefully resolved other than through %HESITATION some sort of violent revolution backed by religion to control the masses will it inequality is old news comes from the fact that there is so there's enough resources in the war but it's always the people in power
01:07:26they want to sequester these resources for them so they either do it in the name of religion on anyone and they will finish in that is so that you will always have this and the only way to actually look at the northern Europe nothing of don't have that
01:07:38much resources German have no resources weather with no natural resources but it's because of transparency accountability and secular is and that's that's what makes people can share their resources because now people have the power of account of a lake at asking in questioning and accountability Jim doesn't have
01:07:58the order of Saudi Arabia over the gold to and and and the diamonds over Africa Germany is known to be a very poor as resource country then I have nothing but they have managed the know how to manage the scene with Japan what are the natural resources of
01:08:15Japan other than fishing nothing and then in the in America %HESITATION you know we start to see parallels just in the divide in this country and other more you know extreme countries I do think we're heading in that direction a little bit of a problem with America is
01:08:35months from for the right the rise of right and that's in the power of the American problems America's mortgage turning into more of an old corky out like how you as of will to go in and you vote for a candidate and then he goes and gets money
01:08:47from other love the lobbies and that that end up affecting their decision so they're basically the end of March representing you there for the people who give the money so it's money it's running politics which is very at a very disturbing so so Bassem Youssef have such a
01:09:08fascinating story hoping come on the pockets again will follow the journey as when a spell your name for the listeners is B. A. S. S. E. M. why are you SSDF check out re made in America that the podcast I'm gonna recommend revolution for dummies that the book
01:09:28and taking giant signaling giants the documentary just check this guy out he's he's an important person to to check out I'm so glad you you came on the show also every time you will be a name the Jon Stewart of Egypt always comes up so you really did
01:09:45fastening things and your your story of reinvention is inspiring and I hope we keep keep following the story thank you so much thank you Hey just a quick reminder go claim your copy of my free book called fact me FAQ me where I share with you my answers
01:10:12to a range of questions on business coming up with ideas getting on stock big point and more get your copy of my book at James out should icon slash FAQ that's James out to should I com slash FAQ

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