SPAIN: Spanish comedian Juan Joya Borja, better known on the internet as the “Spanish laughing guy” whose infectious laughter brought him global fame, has passed away aged 65. Borja is also known by his nickname El Risitas, meaning Giggles.
According to local media, Borja died on Wednesday in hospital. Last year, he was admitted for health issues. In March, he thanked fans for buying him an electric mobility scooter after one of his legs was amputated, by organizing a fundraising campaign.
Following appearances on national television, Borja became a sensation on social media in 2014 when people started dubbing subtitles over him laughing, recalling a story.
It was 20 years ago when the comedian appeared on television shows presented by Jesús Quintero, and Borja drew immense acknowledgment. However, the famous clip of him came from the Spanish late-night show Ratones Coloraos, where the host interviewed him about his ill-fated experience as a kitchen helper. In 2007, the clip was uploaded on the show’s YouTube channel, where El Risitas told Quintero the story of how he left 20 paella dishes in the sea overnight to clean them, only to find the tide had swept all but one away.
The story had Borja and the host in fits of uncontrollable laughter, not to forget, they were slapping the desk. What remained with the audience and viewers was also Borja’s signature wheezing and almost-toothless smile. Years later, from about 2014, internet users began re-posting the clip, using it with bizarre scenarios and unrelated subtitles – for instance; the parodies of a scene from the film Downfall, depicting Adolf Hitler’s final days. Not only that, in a number of other languages Borja was dubbed hysterically at everything from the latest Apple product release to Egyptian politics.
The original video as well as the ‘meme versions’ have since garnered millions of views – cementing Borja’s internet renown. His laughing face remains popular to date and is also being used as an emoticon on the gaming streaming platform Twitch.