AQ Top 5

AQ Top 5 Political Satirists: Gregorio Duvivier

“Brazil’s John Oliver” isn’t afraid to take a side.
Stéfano Martin/Retrato

This article is adapted from AQ's latest issue on the politics of water in Latin America. Click here for the rest of our list. | Leer en español

In a country overwhelmed by polarization and growing anti-democratic sentiment, all humor is political. In fact, a comedian who avoids politics in this context isn’t a comedian at all — and has already sided against democracy.

That is Gregório Duvivier’s proposition for comedy in Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil. “For everything that we have experienced recently, there cannot be humor outside politics in this country,” the 33-year-old comedian told AQ. “Some bullies make fun of the vulnerable. I make fun of those who pose a danger.”

Duvivier is the host of HBO’s Greg News, a Brazilian adaptation of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. As in the original, a witty presenter behind a desk delivers fact-driven exposés on a variety of topics — from the danger of sleep deprivation to Bolsonaro’s similarities to Soviet leaders. Behind the scenes, a team of producers, fact-checkers and humorists creates a mix of news analysis and comedy that often goes viral on Brazilian social media.

Duvivier is also a poet, actor and newspaper columnist, but it is through his satire that he is most actively helping shape the political conversation in Brazil, particularly among younger generations.

A self-defined “eco-socialist,” Duvivier is not shy about his partisan views. In April, for instance, he was one of the stars at a Workers’ Party (PT) rally supporting the release of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Yet Duvivier has also drawn criticism within his political camp by criticizing the left’s tactics during the PT era and its disregard for the environment.

His career trajectory reflects the rise in political tensions within Brazilian society. Duvivier’s work was essentially nonpolitical and included movies, plays and TV until massive street protests erupted in 2013. As the country became increasingly polarized, his work touched more on political themes — first as sketches on the popular YouTube channel Porta dos Fundos and, since 2017, with Greg News.

“Humor is the new rock ’n’ roll,” said Duvivier, quoting his show’s lead writer, Alessandra Orofino. “It’s the new way of setting trends and making political statements.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Roberto Simon is the politics editor for Americas Quarterly and the senior director for policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas. He is an expert in political risk and policy analysis in Latin America, and also oversees AS/COA’s Anti-Corruption Working Group.

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Tags: Gregorio Duvivier, Brazil, Satire, politics, HBO, Jair Bolsonaro


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