Friday, August 04, 2006

Beppe Grillo: Comedy isn't Pretty

One of the main inspirations I had for creating this site came from the the blog of the Italian comedian Beppe Grillo. Italy has a long tradition of social critique being delivered by comedians. Unlike their American late night equivalents these comedians dive headfirst into real issues and use their bond with the common man and their insight to the absurd to mobilize Italians to speak out against political abuse and cynical party and religious rhetoric.

However, Italy also has a well documented history of revolving alliances between government officials, the Catholic Church, mafia and anti-communist secret societies. Once Silvio Berlusconi (who has been linked to all of the above) came to power in the mid-90s these comedians, while hugely popular, were effectively banned from the public airwaves. Berlusconi is not only the founder of the right wing political party Forza Italia, he is Italy's richest man and owns a media empire that controls 3 of the 6 major Italian television networks.

Once banned Grillo and his fellow comedians began taking their shows directly to the public. They tour the country in local theaters and began using the internet as a means to stay in touch with a wider public. Today Beppe Grillo's shows are almost universally sold out and his blog is not only the most visited website in Italy, with 1500-2000 comments a day, it is one one the most visited blogs in the world! His is an important voice and the fact that his site has become THE place to go for both political insight and humor is a true inspiration for us all.


At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Ben said...

Now I have two favorite blogs, this one and now, Beppe Grillo!


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