Tickling Giants

Sara Taksler

United States 2016, 111 min.


Spoken language: English, Arabic

Subtitles: English

Festival year: 2017

A comical documentary about the 'Egyptian Jon Stewart', Bassem Youssef. During the Arab Spring, he trades in his career as a doctor for a life as a talk show host. Soon he has his own late night show on Egyptian television. Youssef's fortunes and misfortunes appear to be very dependent on the quirks of the leaders of the land. This makes Tickling Giants perhaps the funniest history lesson on turbulent modern Egypt.


Humour can banish any evil; that is the conviction of comical doctor Bassem Youssef. However, in his job as heart surgeon there is not much to laugh. As a release for his humorous side, and to make a difference in the protests against the regime, he starts a YouTube channel full of homemade movies in which he ridicules President Mubarak. The channel is a huge success, with scores of viewers each day. It encourages Youssef to make a bold move, quitting his job as heart surgeon to pursue a new career as a fulltime comedian.

Due to his popularity, he manages to get his own television show on an Egyptian television channel. He takes the format from his biggest role model: American comedian and satirist Jon Stewart. Al Bernameg ('The Show') soon becomes one of the best-watched programmes in the Arab world, with 30 million viewers per show. But the satirical programme is as controversial as it is popular, thanks to its criticism of the regime. After the dictator Mubarak is ousted, the tide seems to turn. But the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood also does not seem to be very fond of freedom of speech. Youssef and his team are under immense pressure, but still continue 'tickling the giants', using humour and satire to challenge injustice and hypocrisy.

Andeel worked as a permanent writer and cartoonist of the program until it had to stop in 2014. He will be present at the Movies that Matter Festival as one of the A Matter of ACT activists. Read more about him here.

Text: Annika Wubbolt


Official website: http://ticklinggiants.com


Sarkasmos Productions


World sales:

Ro*co Films International




This film is FREE for all students on Friday 24 March, 19:00 hrs. On display of your student card you can get a ticket at the box office (not online).

Talkshows & debates

Tickling Giants: Q&A with activist Andeel

Friday, March 24, 2017 - 19:00

Q&A with activist Andeel about the importance of press freedom and satire in Eygpt.

Tickling Giants: Q&A with activist Andeel and director Sara Taksler

Saturday, March 25, 2017 - 11:45

Q&A with activist Andeel and director Sara Taksler about the importance of press freedom and satire in Eygpt led by journalist Katinka Baehr.

Tickling Giants: Q&A with activist Andeel and director Sara Taksler

Sunday, March 26, 2017 - 13:15

With activist Andeel and director Sara Taksler journalist Alwin Helmink talks about the importance of press freedom and satire in Eygpt.

Tickling Giants: Q&A with activist Andeel, director Sara Taksler and Cartoon Movement

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - 19:30

Moderator Bahram Sadeghi talks with activist Andeel, the director and founder of Cartoon Movement, Tjeerd Royaards about the importance of political cartoons worldwide.