Bassem Youssef appeared on the Egyptian scene at a time when Egyptians were desperate for some humour, worried sick about their country, and in an unprecedented state of turmoil. In he came and was immediately hailed as the best thing that ever happened to Egyptian comedy.
He was watched profusely. Millions, including me, awaited his episodes earnestly. Yes, he was hitting on everyone and anyone, but mainly on ex-President Morsi and his followers, but, in the eyes of Egyptians, that was acceptable. Egyptians neither cared for nor idolized Morsi, and the humour was quite hilarious. Hence, he quickly reached an unprecedented level of stardom.
A cardiologist turned satirist, Youssef proudly attributes his approach to Jon Stewart: satire that has no boundaries; everyone is an easy target, and all are at risk. His main drawback: he applied this western approach on Egyptians as though he didn’t know them well enough, which was the cause of his downfall.
Egyptians would have gladly joined the bandwagon of ridicule if Yousef was making fun of the enemy, but once he began to ridicule elders, idols, or Egypt, itself, he crossed into treacherous waters. He was immediately crucified and considered a pirahna. Bassem Youssef thought the level of success he had reached had him beyond reproach, but in October 2013, Bassem Youssef attacked Egypt’s idols, the current and the incoming presidents, and in a matter of minutes, the call for his lynching, figuratively speaking, echoed across social media.
That was over two years ago, and all along I had hoped that Egyptians will soon forget. I truly enjoyed Bassem’s technique and was looking forward to the day he returns to the Egyptian scene. He had so much to offer if he simply chose to pursue it slowly.
However, what Bassem Youssef is doing now is basically burning his Egyptian bridges. It is as though he really doesn’t foresee himself as returning to the Egyptian threshold. He headed to the US, and in September, became a Resident Fellow at Harvard IOP. Good for him I say. It is truly an honour to be affiliated with such a prestigious school, and I hope him all the best.
The new status—Resident Fellow at Harvard—dictated a change. It told Bassem Youssef that he is better off in the States than in Egypt, and that the chance of his return to his old role of Egyptian comedian is long gone, and, hence, he is going to tell it as it is.
Bassem Yousef soon afterwards opted to go against not only Egypt’s idols, but Egypt and Egyptians in general. It began with a simple word “Happy?”, "فرحتم؟" as he referred to how joyous Egyptians were with the opening of the new Suez Canal. Whether the new Canal will do the wonders it is supposed to do is besides the point; it is the joy that Egyptians revelled in that Yousef was making fun of. This brought him down further.
Well, he had to also comment on the empty ridings and the no-voter shows during the current parliament elections:
عدم الإقبال على اللجان سببه استراتيجية عبقرية اننا نثبت للعالم اننا بلد مش زحمة و اننا حلينا مشاكل المرور و التلوث الخ.#السياحة_اولى
"Not showing up to vote is strategic genius; we are proving to the world we are not congested, that we’ve solved all the traffic and pollution issues."
When a voter died in one of the polling stations, Youssef contemplated the cause of death to be loneliness or being acutely skinny, ridiculing a dead person. Egyptians found this quite revolting.
In the meantime, Bassem Yousef continues to make fun of the officers and the army, another goof up on his part, not realizing that the effort the army is doing today is, in the minds of Egyptians, incomparable. He began a hashtag #خرفان_الميري as in #army—sheep unaware he is going deeper and deeper in his no recourse.
The quotes mentioned here are merely some of his ongoing attacks on Egyptians.
Bassem Yousef, you are burning your bridges by putting your foot in your mouth again and again. You may love it in the States, but what you are doing is actually ending your chances of ever regaining the career and name you made for yourself in Egypt. It must have been very lucrative at one point; besides, it must have also been so much fun. No other place in the world will give you the prestige and calibre you got in Egypt and, consequently, the Arab World. And here you are assuming the “no return” position.
You know what, Bassem, I would honestly shut my mouth for a good year or two. And then hope that at that point, Egypt will have reached a better place and can forgive and forget. I personally had hoped to see you again in Egypt, for you enjoyed such a wealth of creativity; alas, the change falls on you.
If you want to regain your fame and status, this is what you should be doing:
- Don’t speak ill of Egyptians.
- Don’t speak ill of their idols and elders, and, most of all, don't ridicule their joys.
- Don’t generalize. Some have hurt you personally. Millions of Egyptians didn’t.
- Keep quiet for a bit. You need a respite, and Egyptians need a respite of you.
- At one point, begin to speak well instead of ill about Egypt.
- Show your appreciation for the country that made you even if it took this esteem from you soon afterwards. You are actually not much if it weren’t for Egypt.
- Don’t burn your bridges. You are attached to Egypt whether you like it or not. All your tweets are addressed to and revolve around Egyptians. I await a tweet that speaks of the western world, be it in its favour or at its expense.
I still have hope that one day you will return to Egypt. Don’t make it even tougher for Egyptians to accept you back with open arms.