Juca Pato – The Politics of Humor


(His slogan: “Podia ser pior” – “It could be worse”)

Juca Pato was a creation of the cartoonist, illustrator, painter, historian and journalist Benedito Carneiro Bastos Barreto, known by his pseudonym Belmonte. From the 1920’s to the 1940’s, he had his satirical illustrations shown in the newspaper Folha da Noite (later called Folha da Manhã and now known as Folha de São Paulo). From the start of the 30’s and the coup d’etat led by Getúlio Vargas, the DIP (Dept. of Propaganda) prohibited Belmonte from critisizing the Brazilian government through the use of humor, something he had been doing quite successfully throughout the 1920’s (and which was ironically also temporarily prohibited in the current 2010 Presidential race in Brazil).


(Belmonte)

Belmonte’s signature caricature was Juca Pato and the only role that characterized protest for more than 20 years. Juca Pato was the voice of the non-conformists, of the ‘Zé Povinho que sempre paga o pato” (Joe Blow that always gets blamed for everything), he was the common citizen, the worker, the honest one, the tax payer. Juca was often perplexed and irritated at the cost of life, at bureaucracy, political corruption and the exploitation of the people.

The well-humored figure known as Juca Pato spoke the language of the people – he became the name of a race horse, brand of notebook, cigar, bleach, coffee and the unforgetable Juca Pato Bar, in downtown São Paulo, the meeting point for the bohemians of the city, mainly theater actors, radio personalities and soccer players. Back in the late twenties up until the 1940’s, one could ask popular opinion on the streets of São Paulo who best represented them and the answer was likely to be ‘Juca Pato’. I think it’s time Juca gets brought into the 21st century.

Short Documentary (in PT)
Article on Belmonte & Juca (in PT)
Archive of Belmonte texts (in PT)
Banning Political Humor in Brazil – Time

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Glossary of a Brazilian translator w/o time to lose

This I found on the SK language school site in the humor section, although most of the humor is in English.

GLOSSÁRIO DE UM TRADUTOR BRASILEIRO QUE ESTUDOU NUM CURSINHO RÁPIDO, PORQUE NÃO TINHA TEMPO A PERDER:

Layout ……………………………… Fora da lei
Go home ……………………………Vá a Roma
He is my son ……………………… Ele e maçon
US Mail ……………………………. Meio dos Estados Unidos
I don’t care ……………………….. Eu não quero
Go ahead ………………………….. Gol de cabeça
Broken heart ……………………… Coração bronqueado
Are you sick? …………………….. Qual e seu CIC?
What time is it? ………………….. Que time é esse?
They go jogging all the time … Eles vão jogar com todo o time
An ice cream ……………………… Crime cometido com frieza
Because ……………………………… Inflamação no bico
Fourteen ……………………………. Pessoa baixa e forte
Corn flakes ………………………… Cornos e frescos
She must go ……………………….. Ela mastigou
It’s too late …………………………. É muito leite
Free shop …………………………… Chopp de graça
Good stuff ………………………….. Boa estufa
A hot day ……………………………. Arrotei.
With noise ………………………….. Conosco
Yellow river ………………………… Ela e horrível.
The boy is behind the door ……. O boi esta berrando de dor.
I’m a man ……………………………. Eu mamei
Once more ………………………….. Onde você mora?
Merry Christmas …………………. Maria foi crismada.
Today’s payday ……………………. Hoje peidei.
In French ……………………………. Em frente.
Netscape …………………………….. Nescafé americano
Fuck ………………………………….. Fuca

Telemarketing & Vícios de linguagem

Telemarketing is big business in Brazil and as such, there are many different kinds of courses throughout the country teaching telemarketers-to-be how to attend to a client via telephone. Of course, this provides ample opportunities to poke fun at the idea.

Something else that is somewhat common in Brazil is what can be called ‘vícios de linguagem‘ (linguistic addictions) as Brazilians are extremely social and therefore love to talk (even the word ‘talk’ is like ice to Innuits, there are many ways to say the same thing), that being said, certain incorrect terms get passed around very quickly, with some even sticking. Of course, language is there to be understood and if two or more people understand each other, then language has done its job correctly.

Below, I’ll post a few videos (in PT) that address both telemarketing and linguistic addictions in a humorous way.

As a bonus, I’ll add one on the “history of telemarketing“.

A New Letter from Pero Vaz de Caminha

Brazilian publicist Paulo D’Angelo rewrote the Carta de Caminha (Letter from Caminha) and won a contest called “Listener’s Chronicles”, put on by Radio Bandeirantes. His version is modern and with added humor and I decided to translate it into English below. When researching the original letter, I came across some interesting finds which include D’Angelo’s interpretation in the form of a Brazilian PodClass, the actual 27 page translation into English of Pero Vaz de Caminha’s letter to the King, an analysis of the letter (which has an interesting section called Body Details), the text in its original archaic Portuguese along with images of the actual letter, and the text in modern Portuguese.

New Letter from Pero Vaz de Caminha

“Hello my beloved King, it’s Pero Vaz on the line. Can you hear me well? I borrowed a cell phone from a native of this new land. Everything is good, Capitan Pedro is sending hugs. We got here on Tuesday, the 21st of April, but I thought it would be better to call you on Sunday because it’s cheaper to make a call. Yeah, I know, these kinds of things exist here too.

The natives were surprised by our arrival by sea but they didn’t think we were Gods, Majesty. They thought we were crazy to step foot in the polluted ocean. Is the connection good? Well, this place is kind of funny. They’ve got cell phones, imported cars, free access to the internet and even with all these things, people are still dying of malaria and malnutrition. It’s not so easy to understand.

If we already found who is in charge?

Look, King, it’s complicated. Here, there’s more indian chiefs than there are indians. As soon as we got to Porto Seguro there was a chief who said he could make it rain and that we could jail or set free anyone he wanted. Yep, he’s one crazy chief…More towards the South, we found another tribe, a marvelous village with lots of parties and pretty nearly nude natives. Going southwards from there, we went more inland and found ourselves in the planalto.

There we found a huge tribe of Sampa indians. We met their chief who had power but didn’t know how to use it, poor thing. They say that even his wife beats him. Are you laughing, Majesty? I swear what I’m saying is true. As your Majesty can see, its a simple place to colonize, especially because the natives don’t even all speak the same language.

Yes, they are pacified. If they see a coconut on the ground, they start to kick it and forget about their troubles. They know some things, like how to read…but not all of them. The majority read pretty badly and believe everything they see in print. It’ll be a cinch! It seems there’s a head honcho but he’s almost never seen because he travels a lot. They say if you are trying to find him, all you got to do is sit on his throne.

What’s really funny is that the indians work in exchange for bananas. Yeah, bananas!!! Every month they receive a minimim of 151 bananas. It’s no joke, Majesty! I’m serious!! Just come here and you’ll see. Look, I got to get off the phone. The guy who lent me it needs to make a few calls. He’s a businessman. He said he has to tell his guys theres a new arrival of farinha. Funny…they are so happy to be working…Each time new merchandise arrives, they run up the hill and let off some bottle rockets.

It’s a very rich land, Majesty. I think this time we hit the nail on the head. This here is going to be the country of the future…”