On Friday night, Jon Stewart, on hiatus from his own show in the states, made an appearance on an Egyptian television show to hang out with the Middle Eastern version of himself.
Bassem Youssef is the host of the show Al-Bernameg, a wildly popular satirical talk show. His politically based brand of comedy has previously landed Youssef in serious trouble with his country’s government: He was arrested and detained in March for insulting Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi.
Shrugging off the arrest in the press, he later told HuffPo Live, “I would love to be arrested every day. They gave me free publicity. I should actually split the profit.”
Stewart’s admiration for Youssef is well-known. As he explains in the above clip, “If your regime is not strong enough to handle a joke, then you have no regime,” he said, adding that Youssef’s satire is a crucial but harmless component of self-expression. “A joke has never ridden a motorcycle into a group of people with a baton. A joke has never shot tear gas into a group of people in a park.”
Some of what political leaders find so dangerous about Youssef can be seen in the clip below, taken from his visit to The Daily Show earlier this year.