Ramy Youssef calls for a free Palestine during SNL monologue

This was the first time the Golden Globe winner hosted the culturally significant sketch show

Ramy Youssef spoke about the Muslim American experience when he hosted Saturday Night Live. Photo: NBC
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Egyptian-American stand-up comedian, actor, writer and director Ramy Youssef created a culturally significant moment when he hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend.

“This is an incredibly spiritual weekend, we’re in the holy month of Ramadan,” Youssef began his monologue.

“Tomorrow is Easter, and yesterday, Beyonce released a new album. It’s just so many religions celebrating all at once. I’m doing the Ramadan one.”

Youssef’s opening monologue for the popular live sketch show, displayed his unique sense of humour, which blends personal experiences, cultural identity and political issues, often focusing on the Muslim American experience.

From the punchy first line, Youssef elaborated on his experience of Ramadan in America, using a narrative style to break stereotypes about Muslims.

“I love Ramadan because I love hanging out with Muslims,” he addressed the audience.

“We’re so loving and I feel that people don’t know that about us. We love to love, we’re so free with it.”

He then compared how some of his childhood friends from the Muslim community will take nine months to tell a girl they love them while he uses the word freely to his Uber driver.

From there, he moved into politics, starting with the regional differences in New York, pointing out that Donald Trump has supporters all over the US, not just in the south.

He then took jibes at President Joe Biden, who will be running for re-election as a Democratic.

“I know Biden’s gonna call, I know he’s gonna call me. I mean, well, he’ll probably forget, but I think somebody will call,” he joked.

“Like in 2020, I got a call from Mohammed@biden. He goes, ‘Ramy, habibi, we love you. We love everything that you’ve done for Arab America?’ He said it like it was a country.

‘Everyone on the campaign is such a big fan of your work. And Joe’s aware.' That’s huge, right? Because Joe has an awareness issue. I mean, Joe’s aware – that’s like a Nobel Peace Prize.”

From there, Youssef admitted that he didn’t like either option for the next president and that America should elect a woman instead.

True to his style, he moved from joke, personal anecdote to poignant reality and then back into a punch line.

“I’m out of ideas. All I have are prayers. That’s all I can do right now,” he said solemnly before revealing that from his friends, he’s the only one who prays.

He elaborated that while one friend, going through a divorce, asked Youssef to pray from him to win custody of his dog, another friend asked Ramy to pray for his family in Gaza.

“So that night I go to pray and my prayers are … complicated. I’ve got a lot to fit in. My God, please, please help Ahmed’s family. Please stop the suffering. Stop the violence. Please free the people of Palestine. Please. And please free the hostages, all of the hostages, please.”

Youssef’s call for a free Palestine received loud applause and cheering from the audience before he added the punchline:

“And while you’re at it, I mean, you know, free Mr Bojangles. I mean he is, he’s a beautiful dog. I’m praying for that dog.”

Youssef is the creator and star of Hulu’s Golden Globe Award winning show Ramy, for which he won Best Actor. Delving into the themes of faith, family and cultural identity, the series has been praised for its nuanced approach in representing the Muslim-American experience.

Youssef also appeared in the Oscar-winning film Poor Things, starring Emma Stone. At the Oscars red carpet this year, Youssef wore an Artists for Ceasefire pin and was vocal about calls for peace.

“It's about 'stop killing kids',” he said. “We're using our voices to speak to people's hearts. We want people to have safety and justice.”

Updated: March 31, 2024, 10:33 AM