Meet the Comedians Around the World Who Challenge Government Orthodoxy
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Although Watson’s comedy focuses on topics from bottled water to England’s weather, his funniest—and best—stand-ups are politically focused. Watson has said that the book that has influenced him most is George Orwell’s 1984, because “it still has political resonance 50 years on.” In one routine, Watson muses about what he would do if he were Prime Minister, declaring an affinity for “Cabinet meetings in a 20-seater Jacuzzi and a £500 fine for annoying ringtones.” And how, might you ask, would Watson as PM respond to a challenge from a younger, more fit political rival? “An enormous smear campaign is the usual tactic, I think. I’m pretty active on Twitter, so I’d probably start there. By the end of the day he’d be ruined.”
The Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez has been accused of many things, but a sense of humor about itself has never been among them. In addition to tightening controls on unfriendly news outlets, the Chavez government has cracked down in recent years on a variety of entertainment media, including web sites and television program deemed disrespectful of the regime.
The three founders of Chigüire Bipolar, however, have soldiered on undeterred. Named for a canine-sized rodent native to South America, the satirical website draws inspiration from U.S.-based outfits like The Colbert Report and The Onionto skewer Chavez and other Latin American leaders with phony news stories and parody cartoons. In 2010, the site published a viral cartoon parodying the television show Lost in which various Latin American leaders were stuck on a desert island together. According to The New York Times, the video “depicts Mr. Chávez and Bolivia’s leftist president, Evo Morales, as star-crossed lovers who dine on American bald eagle. Colombia’s right-wing president, Álvaro Uribe, comes across as a prude, and Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, as a temptress who entrances Brazil’s Mr. da Silva. King Juan Carlos of Spain makes an appearance in which his dentures fall into the sea.”
Though the website is fond of ridiculing Chavez’s self-importance and blustery style, it has also poked fun at a number of anti-Chavez figures — including media executive Alberto Federico Ravell, the father of one of the site’s founders.
For its part, the Chavez government has characterized the trio as “anti-Chavez drug addicts.” But with Chigüire Bipolar’s web traffic beating out major outlets like the Caracas daily El Nacional, more than a few Venezuelans may be addicted too.