El Bernameg: Bassem Youssef’s Political Satire on ONTV
things simple with his new show on ONTV; as can be seen by the name ‘El
Bernameg’ (The Show). His satirical online show ‘Bassem Youssef Show B+’, which
he broadcast in five-minute episodes on YouTube, gained a huge cult following. If
you’re not familiar with Bassem Youssef’s humour or his online show, just one
episode of his new TV show is enough to convince you that this really is ‘the’
The show itself starts with a disclaimer,
distancing ONTV from the opinions and statements made by Youssef. So you
already know you’re in for a treat.
The crux of the show isn’t his
straight-faced humour, charisma and sarcasm, or even in the actual production
of the show; the draw is Youssef’s unique take on and dissection of Egyptian
politics. It’s difficult not to be charmed and swept away by him, and you’ll
soon find yourself thinking in the same playfully sardonic way.
He is by no
means a comedian, but his wit and the tongue-in-cheek methods of tackling
political issues make them relatable and relevant. There are no jokes or real
skits and sketches as such; Youssef’s main aim is to incite more and more
political debate. He’s not afraid of confronting the most
controversial issues either.
The first episodes of the show have seen
Youssef address issues such as the Arab world’s silence over the ongoing atrocities in Syria, wanted businessman Hussein Salem, sexual harassment, and the
continuing ambiguity of the interim government. Perhaps one of the stellar
moments was when Youssef tackled the controversy of Naguib Sawiris,
coincidently the owner of ONTV and thereby Youssef’s boss; proving that no one is above his scathing wit.
It isn’t all just witty critique and satire,
though. Youssef has featured new books on the show, and has hosted guests
ranging from participants in the January 25th revolution to
individuals working for the good of local communities. He also featured
Bothaina Kamel, Egypt’s first female presidential candidate, as well as Essam Sultan and Cairokee. All his interviews stay true to style, and are
light and entertaining.
Youssef has a very definite charisma and is
obviously a hugely intelligent individual. He often peppers his
show with medical knowledge to comic effect.
While the show is a must-see, it is far
from your traditional Ramadan viewing. Those looking to escape in the melodrama
of soap operas have some forty shows to choose from, and while this show is
heavy on political and social issues, it’s a unique and refreshing alternative
to the standard talk show formula.
‘El Bernameg’ is shown on ONTV daily at
7:15PM, and is repeated at 2AM, 6AM and 12PM.