Juan Joya Borja, nicknamed “El Risitas” or “Giggles” whose distinctive laugh, which first came to fame on Spanish TV, and then became an international social media sensation has died.
Tributes have been posted on social media across the globe to the man affectionately known as the “Spanish Laughing Guy,” and who died in a Sevilla hospital on April 28th after a long illness.
Juan Joya Borja, first came to fame when he appeared on the TV variety show “Ratones Coloraos” and couldn’t finish telling his ill-fated experience working as a kitchen helper as he was laughing so much. The story which brought the host to tears related his checkered work experience and included the famous story of how he once left 20 paella dishes in the sea overnight to clean them, only to return the next morning to find the tide had swept all but one away and lost his job – again.
The story left him and the host slapping the desk in fits of uncontrollable laughter – with Borja’s Andalucian “country bumbkin” accent, toothless smile and wheazing laughter stealing the show.
The video of the interview filmed in June 2007, containing his joyous outburst, went viral and has become a legendary meme, used most often to illustrate mockery or stupidity – Brexit was a popular meme but also found a ready home in countries as diverse as Egypt, India and the United States.
Borja, who worked various temporary low paid and manual jobs such as a kitchen helper, cement loader, construction helper and other odd jobs, before finding fame after the 2007 interview and becoming a popular figure on the Spanish TV circuit.
He also had a walk-in part in Torrente 3: El protector,as well as appearing on TV commercials.
He had been suffering from many health issues in recent years including the amputation of his leg this year and for which he was struggling to recover from when he died.
In March of this year he thanked his fans for organising a fundraising campaign to buy him an electric mobility scooter so he could get around once out of hospital.