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Tickle the Giant

and find nonviolent ways to make yourself heard

Backbone Campaign brings the new documentary “Tickling Giants” to Vashon Theatre, Tuesday, June 27 at 6 pm. Dubbed “The Egyptian Jon Stewart,” heart surgeon turned comedian Bassem Youssef creates – in the midst of the Egyptian Arab Spring - a satirical program poking fun of politics, religion and media. The weekly program quickly becomes the most viewed television program in the Middle East, with 30 million viewers per episode.  

In a country where free speech is not legal, he and his staff endure physical threats, protest, and legal action, all because of jokes that let those in power know they’re being held accountable. Produced by Sarah Taksler of the Daily Show, the film shows how comedy can be a cathartic way for a nation to process repression and corruption and it encourages viewers to speak up when they witness injustice.  She says, “Our goal is to inspire an international dialogue about free speech, how we treat Muslims, and what happens when power is abused. We hope (through this film) people will find their own creative, non-violent ways to be heard.”

A reviewer for the New York Times writes, “There’s a lot to laugh at, and to learn from ... in this first-rate documentary, at a time when freedoms seem to be threatened everywhere. After watching, you come away feeling more proud of those freedoms, and more concerned for their future.”

Says Jon Stewart, who appears on the show, “If your regime is not strong enough to handle a joke, then you don’t have a regime. You know, there’s an expression - I don’t know if you have it: ‘adding insult to injury.’ Yes, maybe it is an insult, but it is not an injury. A joke has never ridden a motorcycle into a crowd with a baton. A joke has never shot tear gas to a group of people in a park. It’s just talk.”

Bassem Youssuf is now living in exile in California. When asked about the irony of landing in Trump’s America, he revealed that to the dictators of the Middle East, “Mr. Trump is a bleeding heart liberal.” This film gives us an opportunity to see our current political situation through a different lens and to gain inspiration from those who have tackled repression with truth and courage.

The film is a Call to Action to tickle the giant: find non-violent ways to express yourself when power is abused - from a protest against a world leader to standing up to a bully in a school cafeteria.

Backbone Campaign thanks Island GreenTech and Vashon Theatre for support in making this event happen. Admission is by donation, $10/person suggested, with no one turned away for lack of funds.