Reasons You Should Be Watching 'Tickling Giants' Right Now

10 Reasons You Should Be Watching 'Tickling Giants' Right Now

Are you brave enough to tell a joke?

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The streets of Cairo, Egypt erupt with protests over politics. There's one man giving a voice to those without power. He is representing the people through satirical comedy, directed at the ruling elites. That man is Dr. Bassem Youssef, and he is the subject of Sara Taksler's extraordinary documentary; "Tickling Giants".

"Tickling Giants" follows Bassem Youssef (the proclaimed "Egyptian Jon Stewart") as he pushes the boundaries of Egyptian regimes in a political satire comedy show. As the only one of it's kind in Egypt, "The Show" garnered over 30 million views each week, accounting for more than 40% of the Egyptian population (to put that in perspective, "The Daily Show," Americans ultimate political satire comedy, only reached 2 million views at the height of it's popularity)!

Egypt is not a country known for their freedom of speech and tolerance of dissent, so Taksler, the film's creator, was fascinated by the work Bassem Youssef, a heart surgeon turned YouTube comedian turned late night television host, was doing in Egypt. She could never have predicted what was to come.

Find the trailer here, and think I hope you get the chance to then watch the film, because...

1. It's funny.

"Side-splittingly funny"

If you're at all familiar with "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart/Trevor Noah, then you know it's a comedy show based on intelligent and sometimes scathing satire. And as someone who used to watch it almost daily, I can tell you, it was hilarious.

Bassem Youssef models his comedy show, aptly titled "The Show," or "AlBernameg" in Arabic, off of "The Daily Show," but the stakes are much higher in Egypt's authoritarian regime. That doesn't stop Youssef and his team from giving comedy their best effort, and the result is a laugh-out-loud journey of jokes, success, and some of the hardest setbacks in the history of comedic television.

2. It's interesting.

"The Show" with Bassem Youssef

"Tickling Giants" not only tells the story of Youssef, it also chronicles the efforts of his staff, the evolution of his show and the changing political environment of Egypt. With beautiful and eye-opening footage, as well as a collection of interviews with both supporters and protesters alike, there is not a second of the documentary's 111 minutes wasted. Fans of satire and drama, political news and late-night tv alike will find something to love in Taksler's masterpiece.

3. It’s a cautionary tale.

"Not now?" Trailer Screenshot

"This show is about holding authority accountable, regardless of who's in charge." Youssef can be found saying in the trailer and publicity events beyond. This documentary and Youssef's journey perfectly show the dangers of a regime that is afraid of comedy and demonizes/tries to limit the press. It quickly shows the erosion of rights that we take for granted in the Western world and clues us in on just what we need to notice in order not to lose those rights.

Words are powerful. And when an authority in power tries to inhibit control, it may be time to start "tickling giants".

4. It's got some fun animation.

Flappy Giants

Advertisement for free Tickling Giants game

On staff at Youssef's "The Show," there was an expert animator who contributed his talents to the film. These drawings perfectly encapsulate what the documentary, and Youssef's actions, are about. With huge Godzilla-like dictators stomping on cities to Youssef's character running around the streets brandishing his feather like a weapon, these little scenes add a whole new element unique to many documentaries that come before.

5. It's professional.

Everything about the documentary is well-put together, well-said, and all around expertly done. With clear film from interviews, snippets of Youssef's show and footage from many riots and protests throughout the streets of Cairo, it is no secret that this film is built to last. And last it should, because it's messages and ideals are a privilege for anyone to learn (more on that below).

6. It's powerful.

"If your regime is not strong enough..."

"There's a lot to laugh at, and to learn from, in Tickling Giants," says New York Times critic, Ken Jaworowski. Director Sara Taksler would agree.

I got the chance to meet her, and besides her well-spoken ideals about the power of comedy in the political sphere, she told me that if nothing else, the main lesson she wants to impart on people through her film is this: "Find creative, nonviolent ways to express yourself when you see an abuse of power."

This is what Bassem Youssef is doing through his show, and as you observe his journey from surgeon to late-night comedian, you'll begin to fully appreciate the life you have and hopefully come away with these 5 takeaways.

7. It's eye-opening.

YouTube Tickling Giants Trailer

It's obvious to many that Western powers largely possess a certain stereotype and stigma around the Middle East. These prevailing generalizations many hold, from ideas of Middle Eastern culture, religions, peoples, etc., can prevent us from really attempting to learn about different parts of the world. "Tickling Giants" gives Western audiences, who Taksler often stated was her target audience for making this film, a chance to peer into this other area of the world and realize that culture and people are not something to be stigmatized, but something to be appreciated and understood.

Not only is it opening eyes to another culture, the film also reminds audiences how lucky they are to have free speech, an idea that's under attack in many areas of the world. Youssef's struggles throughout making this show (of which we see plainly through the lens of the documentary camera) remind us just how powerful our words are, and to not take them for granted.

8. It's really good.

"First rate documentary"

I've watched the entire thing, and would do so again in a second. Every part of it is engaging and it's hard to know what comes next. Everyone I've talked to in my life has loved it, but don't just take it from me or my community. Take it from these well-known reviewers:

""Tickling Giants" is a terrific movie that leaves you cherishing (a little more) the freedom we have, and holding in contempt (a little more) those who would compromise it."-Variety

""Tickling Giants" surprises us on several levels."-LA Times

"A beautiful, funny, charming, insightful, laugh until you cry, and then cry until you laugh film."-Huffington Post

"A first-rate documentary"-The New York Times

And more! (Plus it has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes "Tomatometer" so you can't really argue with that)

9. It's easy to get.

Tickling Giants Availability

Note: these dates are for 2017 so you can get the movie now without waiting

After you watch the trailer (and finish this article), you can find "Tickling Giants" almost immediately wherever you are. Here are some of the best places you can find this extraordinary documentary:

Tickling Giants Website

Amazon Prime

YouTube

Vudu

Google Play

Itunes

10. It's human.

I'll let that point speak for itself.

I hope this article has convinced you to watch "Tickling Giants", or if you have already watched it, reflect on the many positive aspects of the movie.

Tickling Giants is daring, funny, and more timely than ever. I hope you get a chance to witness it.

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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Taking Time For Yourself Is Nothing To Feel Guilty About, It's Healthy

Your emotional health should be your utmost priority — and you deserve to be in good emotional health.

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Renowned Sōtō Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki once said that: "We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves." We've often been told the opposite, however. We've been told that our worth is dependent on what we can do for others and that our existence itself is meant for the advancement of society. There is no place within our culture to truly exist with ourselves. The parts of our culture that claim to value self-love and self-care tend to commodify it in the form of relaxation products and personal development products — albeit helpful at times but mostly meant to addict us without true benefit to our inner selves.

As a young student, I talked with an orthopedic surgeon — a very overworked, ambitious woman — who told me to learn how to make it in the long haul, whether in my personal, interpersonal, or career life. You had to learn to enjoy yourself and find inner peace along the way. Because there would come a time, she said, when I would become guilty to take time for myself and forget what it's like to really enjoy life. Unfortunately, I made it to that point — I worked and worked and worked until I finally burned myself out. That's when I had to make certain changes in my life to understand how I got to that point and where I needed to go from there.

In the midst of our grand ambitions, it's easy to either go all in or all out. Either to give your entire self to a certain end or give nothing at all. I've been very much guilty of ending up on both ends of the spectrum — I would either devote all my time to writing/school or hit a roadblock and give it all up for a while. It felt like the value of my life was predicated on success, whatever that meant, in terms of contributing more and more and achieving more and more. It's never, ever enough, however. No matter what you achieve, there will always be a million more things on your to-do list. Whatever you triumph over, there will always be a million more roadblocks in your path.

The answer for me was to learn how to exist with myself, how to exist with other people, how to exist amidst all the dreams I had for the future, but also in the present moment where all my past dreams had come to fruition. Sometimes I would dive too deep into myself, and lose myself in thought, as noted in Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life." But I learned to participate fully, each moment to moment not necessarily enjoyable, but I find enjoyable moments each day with my friends, dog, boyfriend, and myself alone with a book or a pen.

Oftentimes as a crisis counselor, I am asked the questions: What's the point? Why am I here? What is there to look forward to? It's hard for me to precisely answer that question because, frankly, no one has anyone answer. But here's an answer that I believe in, born of taking time for ourselves: we live to feel the hope for happiness again. We live for the moments of joy, contentment, relaxation, excitement, pleasure, love, happiness, everything. We live to experience and to find each other. We live on because each new moment brings a surprise. There are many, many good moments in the future for all of us, even amongst the bad.

It's impossible to really experience life, however, if we're unable to take time to ourselves. That's one of my greatest fears, actually, that life will pass me by and I won't be able to experience each day as a full and complete miracle. There's something lost when everyone else gains from commodifying all aspects of our lives. Are you going to keep living for everyone else, or will you learn to exist for yourself? Do you owe the world your entire self, or can you take back at least some of yourself right now? Is it selfish to feel happy and not only to suffer?

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