Shoulders shaking and wiping tears from his eyes, the Apple MacBook engineer with a thick mustache screeches with laughter. He straightens up and slaps a table. “Wait! It gets better!” he cries. “It was so thin the battery wouldn’t fit inside! That’s all our customers need! I got promoted!” Move over Hitler: there’s a new parody video star in town. Of course, the guy in the video currently pushing at 1.8million views and 20,000 likes on YouTube, reduced to a quivering wreck by Apple’s new flagship product having “NO USB PORTS!” isn’t actually an employee of Tim Cook.
Introducing – at least to a non-European audience – Juan Joya Borja, a comedian better known in his native Spain as El Risitas, or “The Giggles,” for his distinctive chuckle at rambling tales. It’s typical of the internet that 15 years after a comedian’s peak of fame in his home country, an eight-year-old interview cheekily subtitled could inadvertently transform him into a viral meme, eliciting clicks and shares the world over. And it is much to the amusement of the Spanish people who remember him the first time around. I asked my Catalan friend Marta, who is El Risitas?
“Hahaha,” she replied. No really? “Oh. He’s a sort of very tacky person who’ll occasionally feature in bad TV programs. Or very crass movies.” He may be the Spanish Bobby Davro. So, if El Risitas isn’t discussing Apple’s new MacBook, unveiled in a San Francisco conference by Cook on Monday, what has tickled him?
The video is, in fact, a clip from a June 2007 interview from the chat show Ratones Colorado, hosted by Jesus Quintero. Questioned on a lack of work ethic, Joya begins a tale of how, many years previously, he used to work as a kitchen porter in Andalucía. The comedian explains that he left them in the sea at low tide when asked to wash some paella pans overnight. However, when the young Joya came back to collect the pans, the tide was up, and they had been washed out to the sea.
El aristas apple MacBook spoof google trends graph showing popularity. True to form, telling the tale inspires El Risitas’s distinctive and quasi-contagious laugh (think dolphin with a 20-a-day habit), elevating what should be a pretty nondescript anecdote into one that has the audience doubled over. Of course, any form of exaggerated emotion – whether that be elation or rage – lends itself easily to parody, and so it has proved with El Risitas, who has become the light to the Downfall meme’s shade.
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Downfall parody screengrab echoing el aristas MacBook spoof. For though El Risitas is currently cracking up over the new $1,299 Apple notebook in the video uploaded by Armando Ferreira, his mirth has previously been directed at many other things. The original interview has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube in the eight since it was uploaded, but this year, it has really taken off as the subtitled currency of parody. Curiously, it seems to have been mostly embraced by tech and gaming communities.
Last month alone, videos appeared in which El Risitas mocked the video games Destiny, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Grand Theft Auto, Team Fortress 2, The Order, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. He’s also howled at under-performing graphics cards and DSLR cameras Living Tired. However, El Risitas is branching out into less specialist territory. There are videos in which the targeted subjects range from the wrestling industry, football teams to the Ottawa bus system. Absurdly, but par for the course on the internet, the meme’s origins can be traced back to the Muslim Brotherhood, who back in March 2014 was way ahead of the pack when using the El Risitas clip to mock Egyptian president El-Sisi. That version has currently been viewed over 800,000 times.
So, has the internet gifted us the new Downfall? It’s doubtful whether there’s a person with an internet connection who hasn’t at one point or another enjoyed the Hitler Reacts video meme. From the 2004 film dramatization of the Third Reich, Downfall, and featuring a furious Adolf Hitler played by Bruno Ganz, that clip has provided the foundations for parodies on topics far and wide. We’ve seen Hitler bawl about the Comic Sans font, pizza, and sub-prime mortgages. The extraordinary popularity of the Downfall parody resulted in thin pieces aplenty. It was even responsible for a banker losing his job when he shared a video in a company newsletter. Given the inexorable rise of El Risitas, it surely about it in a Downfall-Risitas mashup. Oh.