Will Bassem Youssef host the new Saturday Night Live Bil Arabi?

Published October 13th, 2015 - 09:00 GMT
Bassem Youssef has been making waves Stateside, and will be hosting the International Emmy Awards next month. (File photo)
Bassem Youssef has been making waves Stateside, and will be hosting the International Emmy Awards next month. (File photo)

OSN, the region's biggest pay-TV network has announced that an Arab version of the iconic American show Saturday Night Live (SNL), is coming to our screens in January next year!

The award-winning US show has been on the air since 1975 and has been a career springboard for America's comedic talents. Many SNL alumni such as Bill Murray, John Belushi, Mike Myers, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Andy Samberg and Will Ferrell became household names through the show, and a celebrity host slot is a muc- coveted showbiz honor.

Bassem Youssef's appearance alongside Antonio Banderas and Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams yesterday at the OSN Dubai launch of its new program season has set tongues wagging that he would be attached to the new SNL show. 

The SNL format of comedy sketches and celebrity guests has had its share of controversies, which would seem a perfect fit for the Egyptian satirist.

“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” said OSN's CEO David Butorac told The National, feeding the rumor mill.

Saturday Night Live in Arabic willl feature some of the best comics from across the Middle East, according to Khulud Abu Homos, the executive vice-president of programming and creative services at OSN.

“We have been prepping for two years, training our creative team and writers. We did it by the book and hopefully we will ensure that this show will be a cornerstone for what it has been in other countries: the platform for launching new comedy talents,” she told Gulf News. "The show will have the exact same format as the American one", she added.

Producers were asked how the new show would manage to keep the SNL flair for edgy content while fitting into Middle Eastern sensibilities. References were made to Bassem's satirical show, Al Bernameg, which was shut down last year due to political pressure.

“In every region of the world, it’s important that broadcasters ensure their content is socially acceptable to the broadcast environment they are broadcasting in. We will ensure that whatever we do is appropriate for the region” Butorac said. 

From catching singers lip-synching (Ashlee Simpson), to disrespecting religion (Sinead O'Connor, Christophe Waltz), to inappropriate language (Martin Lawrence, Samuel Jackson) or mocking hot topics (domestic violence, disabilities, sex) Saturday Night Live has been pushing the boundaries for forty years and counting.

But with Saturday Night Live Bil Arabi set to film in Egypt, will OSN manage to bring Bassem Youssef back? 

In the meantime here is Miley Cyrus and Taran Killam as Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Speaker of the House John Boehner, celebrating the government shutdown by throwing a raucous house party in a remake of Miley's We Can't Stop video.

Hey OSN, can we have a Lebanese version please?


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