Sarcasm will save your soul
Tickling Giants is a reminder that humor is an instrumental power check in all societies. When the revolutionary wave of the Arab Spring struck Egypt in 2011, surgeon Bassam Yousef elected laughter as the country’s most promising medicine.
The heavily censored media under Hosni Mubarak inaccurately reflected the horrific reality seen daily on the streets of Cairo. In response, Yousef created a YouTube show using satire and sarcasm to call attention to real problems facing Egyptian society. To his disbelief the show caught fire, eventually becoming a network television program with thirty million viewers. To put it in perspective, John Stewart’s show averages around two million views in a country with a population that is threefold Egypt’s.
Though wildly popular among the Egyptian people, the administration felt differently. Yousef’s proclivity to poke fun at the government landed him in hot water, even being forced to turn himself in. However, his massive fan base demanded his emancipation and right to continue the program.
In this instance, the power of the people prevailed. This trend of questioning authority and fighting for communal values bodes well for the future of Egypt. It also conveys messages that resonate with societies and cultures around the world. Americans watching Alec Baldwin impersonate Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live can relate to the same sense of comfort Yousef provides Egypt. It is a reassurance that though regimes may make unpopular decisions or take away people’s rights, they will never take away their laughter.
The documentary contextualizes humor as a coping mechanism for a troubled country as well as beacon of hope. It most importantly proves the power of jokes in maintaining sanity, asserting values, and revealing truth.