From doctor, to YouTube sensation, to voice of the people, to bonafide international celebrity; the last few years have been a proverbial rollercoaster for the intangible Bassem Youssef.
Last seen strutting his stuff in the hallways of Harvard as a Resident Fellow in the university’s Institute of Politics and finishing off documentary, Tickling Giants, it’s been a relatively quiet 2015 for a man that became one of the most divisive and important figures in post-revolution Egypt. Rumours, however, are circulating that he could be back on TV screens in 2016.
OSN has announced that it will be producing an Arabic version of enduring American show, Saturday Night Live, and after appearing at an OSN Dubai event, Youssef seems to be the man earmarked to host the comedy sketch show. While there has yet to be a concrete response from OSN about the possibility, Saturday Night Live Bel 3araby is set to be filmed in Egypt and a seemingly off-hand comment from OSN’s CEO has sent the rumour mill into overdrive. David Butorac told the National, “Bassem is a great friend and we very much enjoy working with him. I’m sure we’ll have more announcements for you in good time.”
The concept of having a fixed host would, of course, go against the original SNL format, which has a different celebrity host every episode; so if Youssef is attached, it’ll be interesting to see how. While SNL has seen better days, there’s no doubting its impact and popularity. Having started in 1975, the show has gone on to launch the careers of some of the best contemporary comics around, including Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Andy Samberg, as well as Will Ferrell and Bill Murray. The show could well do the same for comedians in Egypt and the Middle East, and the launch of the show will come at a time that has seen a renewed interest in stand-up comedy in Cairo, with the likes of Al Hezb El Comedy becoming a frequent fixture in the city’s entertainment rotation.
By Kalam El Qahaira