Arts

Ramy Youssef: Making Sense of the World and Finding Faith (With Jokes)

In the week after he appeared as a presenter at the Oscars, the comic Ramy Youssef, a creator and director of the Hulu series “Ramy” and Emma Stone’s co-star in “Poor Things,” was taking meetings in Hollywood on what’s known as a water-bottle tour — “except without the water bottle,” he said. He is fasting for Ramadan.

Youssef, who will turn 33 this month, has been a rapidly rising star since the 2019 debut of “Ramy,” a semi-autobiographical award-winning show in which he plays the son of Egyptian immigrants in suburban New Jersey — as he is in real life — struggling to define himself amid the sometimes conflicting pull of Muslim faith and young adult, Tinder-era life. When Youssef won a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy in 2020, he accepted the trophy by saying, “Allahu akbar. This is thanks to God — and Hulu.”

Now his ascent is even sharper. He is following his surprising turn in the Oscar-winning “Poor Things” — as a thoughtful scientist and cast-aside love — with a standup special, his second for HBO. The program, “More Feelings,” due Saturday, mines personal territory, religious and cultural stereotypes, and his budding friendship with Taylor Swift (a pal of Stone’s), who went to see his set. He will also host “Saturday Night Live” on March 30.

Those are only a few of the many projects he has going, he said in a video interview from Los Angeles, before he taped “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” He and his buddies “always joke that we make TV like immigrants,” he said. “We’re always working. We’re not going to outsource too much. We’re just figuring out how to do what we can, small budgets. So that’s my expectation for my career. I’ll just, you know, figure that out.”

Youssef’s HBO special, “More Feelings,” will premiere on Saturday; the following week, he’ll host “Saturday Night Live.”Credit…HBO

But he is also mulling the advice he got from Yorgos Lanthimos, the “Poor Things” director, to get out of TV and start making movies. Then again, an invitation to direct an episode of “The Bear” led Youssef to Copenhagen and a daylong stint staging at the fabled restaurant Noma. “It’s such a hard table to get,” he said. “I felt bad for whoever had waited a year to eat there and then I made their plate.” (The episode garnered him a nomination for a Directors Guild of America Award.) A fourth season of “Ramy,” delayed by the Hollywood strikes, will happen, he promised. “The question is, when?”

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