Bassem Youssef - Preparing America with "Revolution for Dummies" - Extended Interview

March 20, 2017 - Bassem Youssef 03/20/2017 Views: 68,612

Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef explains President Trump's popularity in the Middle East and talks about satirizing the Arab Spring in his book "Revolution for Dummies." (8:53)

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please welcome Bassem Youssef.

(cheering and applause)

As-salaam alaikum.

Yeah, whatever.

Know how longI practiced that for?

Uh, yeah. Yeah. Hmm. Great.

-Um... Great. -Anyway.Good to have you here, Bassem.

-Yeah. Yeah.-Good to have you here.

Uh, let's get straight into it.

You are originallyfrom Egypt, right?

And now that you're living inCalifornia, how are you feeling?

Well, uh, I think I'mthe unluckiest son of a bitch

in the whole world

because I left, like,a strongman dictatorship

back in Egypt just in timeto find you starting yours.

(chuckles) What does that...I mean, that's true and scary,

but, uh, b-but talking aboutpeople, you know, back home,

like, how are people back homereacting to Trump?

Oh, you mean in Los Angeles?They're terrified.

No, not in your home.

-I mean... I mean in Egypt.-Oh, in... Well...

It will come as a surprisefor you.

Uh, as a matter of fact,

he is quite popularwith our Egyptian media.

And I know that you guys likea news montage,

so, um, I prepared somethingfor you. Have a look.

Wow.

So, good job, America,now you are led by a horse.

(laughter)

Trump and a stallion...

-speak English equally well.-(laughter)

I... Okay,this is mind-blowing to me,

because everyone thinks theyunderstand the Middle East

and their relationshipto Trump...

We live in the Middle East--

we do not understandthe Middle East.

But everyone thinksthey understand it, though.

Like, we, like...Here's the question.

How is Trump so popularin the Middle East?

Yeah, how is Trumpso popular here?

(laughter)

Well, I mean, touché, but...

Well, all right, all right,so basically,

he is loved by the mediaand the leadership

and many peoplewho believe the media

for the same exact reason that,uh, the leaders are loved there.

So, for example,he is a strong man,

he expands the military,um, he makes promises

that he will never deliver,

he talks in the nameof a religion

he never, uh,like, read the book,

uh, he's full of bull(bleep)--

I mean,he's the perfect person for us.

I mean, it's kind ofa nostalgia with him.

-Yeah, but-but what about...but what about... -(laughter)

-Did you just say "nostalgia"?-Yeah.

But what about, what aboutthe travel ban?

Because, I mean, the travel banbans Muslims,

like, so how would you getany love in the Muslim world?

Oh. So you're talking, like,

-Donald Trump hates Muslims?-Yeah.

You know who else hates Muslims?

Other Muslims.

So as a matter of fact, it is sodifficult for many Muslims

to move from one countryto another.

I mean, it's-- you have, uh,

not all countries are the same,so for example, you have, like,

Saudi Arabia not very goodwith Iran,

Iran not very goodwith Saudi Arabia.

Syria cannot go anywhere.

I mean, do you think they'drather walk to Germany?

And, uh, this is it.

It's basically--the only difference is

that we don't need a wall,we don't call it a ban.

We just hide it under, like,a big wall of bureaucracy,

-tons of paperwork.-Right.

It's cheap, it's very effective,

and Mexico doesn't haveto pay for it.

Don't give Trump ideas,my friend.

Don't give Trump ideas.

In fact, I feel likeyour whole book

that you're here to talk about

is really a bookthat could give Trump ideas,

-or it's a lessonin a revolution. -Yeah.

Revolution for Dummies:

Laughing Through the Arab Spring.

In the book, you show how,I mean,

you really made comedy,you know,

in a countrythat was on the brink.

Can you give us a sneak preview

of what America hasto look forward to?

Well, as you said,

this is basically,it's a know-how book.

It is, um-- it could be usedfor you as a warning.

We can call this the prequel,or...

(laughter)

Or, um, Donald Trumpcan really get ideas,

that's why it has "dummies"in the title.

(cheering and applause)

You know,can I tell you something?

They're clapping for you now.

Don't forget,you just got here, Bassem.

These people-- they'll tr--

-Me and you are not safe,my friend. -We're not.

Don't let this applausethink you're safe, my friend.

-You're not.-No. I don't think I am.

But what can we learnfrom the book?

I mean, you're somebody who'sdoing comedy in a country

where not many peoplecould do--

especially satireabout the government.

What can we learnfrom this book?

Yeah, well, the thing is, you...If, uh... In the book,

you will find it's the sameexact rhetoric in the media.

The same exactconspiracy theories.

You will be amazed that... howpeople are easily manipulated.

-Yeah.-By nonsense.

And they will believe itover and over and over again,

because they same the...

they-they usethe same weapon: fear.

It's like... they have to putall your troubles

-or all your problemson-on an enemy. -Yes.

Uh, "They hate us,they-they hate our lifestyle.

They... they'recoming to get us."

We hear... we have been hearingthis forever in our region.

And if you-if you were,like, uh, amazed

by some of the conspiracytheories that you hear here--

for example, uh,Obama founded ISIS--

-we've been having thisfor the past five years. -Wow.

So it's not new. It's maybe...This is the one thing

that Obama did: he brought yourpeople and my people together.

It's, uh... May-Maybe

he deserved thatNobel Prize after all.

I like-I like the idea thatthere's, like, Arabic Fox News.

Oh, yeah.I-I mean, seriously,

we know when Trumpactually watches that clip

he's gonna say,"Oh, Muslims love me.

Yeah. Uh, watchEgyptian Fox News."

With... with, like,their own version

of, like-like, Bill O'Reillyand all of those...

That would be insane.Um, when-when you were in Egypt

you were doing a show verysimilar to The Daily Show,

uh, with one big difference:

-you had 30 million people-Yeah.

-watching your show,per episode. -Yeah.

And, you know, with ratingslike that, everyone would say,

like, "Why is your showoff the air?"

You remember when you just,like, two minutes ago,

told me that nobody's safe?Yeah, it was the same thing.

It doesn't matter.Uh, as long as we have

thin-skinned dictators who, uh,

who really get pissed by jokes,

the only differencethat you guys here

have someone whogoes on a Twitter rant.

Back there, we get kicked out.

So we should keep Trumpon Twitter, then,

-is what you're saying.-Yes.

He is... he is-he isless harm-harmful than this way.

Oh. That makes sense-- Twitterfingers turn to trigger fingers.

I've heard that said.That is a...

that is a-thatis a powerful statement.

Uh, a-a lot of people can,uh, watch, uh, the documentary

that you're in.If you get a chance...

and you really should make,uh, you know, some time.

Tickling Giants is the nameof the documentary.

-It's a story about you thattracks you from before -Yeah.

the revolutionand the-the Spring in Egypt

and takes you all through being,

basically, chased outof the country.

A-And I want to say something.Like, this all started in 2012,

when I first cameto this studio.

Uh, one of your-your producers,Sara Taksler--

she's wonderful--she followed me for four years.

Four years. She went back andforth from Egypt to follow me.

And she said, like, "You wantto have a documentary made

about you?" Like, "Yeah, sure.I mean, it's me

and two endangered species,a beluga whale and a panda."

It's like, why not?And, uh, she followed me,

-and she-she told the story inthe most beautiful way. -Yeah.

And, uh... (stammers)I actually watched the movie

for the first timewith everybody in the theater

for the first time.I didn't know what to expect.

She did a wonderful job.And, uh, it was...

It has, like, sold out,uh, um, screenings

-here in New York, andit's gonna play tomorrow -Yeah.

across the countryin Landmark, uh, Theatres.

It's... She-She's amazing.

And I'm blessedthat, like, I come here

and I find all of these peoplesupporting me.

Uh, and I hopethat it will continue.

I-I definitely think it will,my friend. Uh...

-be-before you... -And I hope,like, next-next time,

if they're gonna make this movieinto, like,

-a future movie, like, you know,like, how they have -Yeah.

-Gerard Butler play, like,an Egyptian god -Yeah.

and-and people like me haveto audition for Terrorist #3?

I hope that will change.

I-I would like you to playmy part.

-Oh, I-I play you?-Yeah, but you know why?

Because...Uh, where's your monitor?

Because, um, you know,Egypt is in Africa, too.

-Africa jokes.-(laughter)

(cheering and applause)

Oh, man. Bassef...

Bassem, I hope you join us overand over again.

You tell an amazing story.

Uh, it's a fantastic book.

Revolution for Dummies.

Bassem's town hall eventin New York City

and Tickling Giants all come outMarch 21.

You can go to TicklingGiants.comfor more information.

Bassem Youssef, everybody.

(cheering and applause)

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