Young comic Danilo Gentili may be Brazil’s answer to Jon Stewart. For the generation that came before him, living under military dictatorship, mocking politicians could be life-threatening. But now the country is a prospering global giant, and this law student-turned-comedian has pioneered a new brand of political stand-up. Along with his comedy contemporaries, like Rafinha Bastos (who David Leonhardt of the New York Times recently named the most influential person on Twitter), Gentili is helping Brazil match economic weight with cultural clout.
Having made his name on the weekly satire show Custe o Que Custar (“Whatever it takes”), the 32-year-old has become known for his controversial politician-baiting routines, even making jokes about President Dilma Rousseff’s torture by the country’s former security services.
Gentili’s rise to fame is a sign of Brazil’s increasing self-confidence, wealth and political pluralism. As recently as November 1998, the country was forced to take a $41bn emergency loan from the IMF; now Finance Minister Guido Mantega has been talking about bailing out the western world and fighting “an international currency war.” And as the country relaxes into its stability and global stature, Brazilians appear increasingly comfortable being vocal—and funny—about their failings. With the launch of a new Comedy Central channel next year, it looks as if Brazil’s long run of economic growth has brought more than just greater affluence.