Tiririca

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Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva (born 1 May 1965), best known by the stage name Tiririca, is a Brazilian actor, clown, comedian, humorist, politician and singer-songwriter. He represents the state of São Paulo in the National Congress of Brazil.

Tiririca in Parliament.

Tiririca went on a meteoric national success when his first album Florentina (1997) went to top charts, breaking sales records. Being a one-hit wonder, he went to work in television humor programs and returned to the Brazilian headlines in 2010, when he became the second-most-voted congressman in Brazil's history.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Itapipoca, Ceará, to an extremely poor family, Silva began working at the age of six. When he was eight years old, after seeing a circus performing in his home town, Tiririca joined them and started working as a clown. His stage name Tiririca ("coco-grass") dates from this period; he got it from his mother because of his very strong, bitter ill-tempered personality as a child.

Because his humorous singing performances in small local circuses were met with great success, his circus-owner employer – together with some local businessman – sponsored the launch of the first 1,000 copies of his first album. Soon his album became a great success in the Brazil's Northeast Region, selling about 1.5 million copies; grabbing the attention of big record companies such as Sony Music who bought the record and launched it nationally in 1997. In just a few weeks, Florentina broke charts sales records previous established by Mamonas Assassinas. Tiririca also broke television-audience records whenever he appeared.

His first album also gave rise to much controversy; it contained the song "Veja os cabelos dela" ("Look at Her Hair"), which many branded as racist. The album's copies were seized from stores, the song banned from radio stations, and Tiririca was tried for racism. In the end, he was acquitted and a second version of the album without that song was released.

Tiririca also went on to record two more albums – Tiririca (1997) and Dança da Rapadura (1999). Both of then failed to sell anywhere close to Florentina's sales. From 1999 onwards, Tiririca focused on his acting and humorist career.

Television work[edit]

Tiririca with his comic friend Shaolin.

As his musical career was on decline, Tiririca appeared in a show for children on the now-defunct Rede Manchete. Soon after, he joined the Rede Record network in 1999 becoming a cast member of the comedy show Escolinha do barulho . After that show's cancellation in 2002, he transferred to Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão (SBT), where he held a segment in the show A Praça é Nossa.

After leaving SBT in 2004, Tiririca recorded a new album Alegria do Forró which was a commercial failure.

Following a hiatus, he returned to Rede Record in 2006 after being invited by his fellow comedian and personal friend Tom Cavalcante to take part in his Show do Tom comedy show. Tiririca again met national success with his character 008 of the Bofe de Elite (meaning "Elite Fag", a parody of The Elite Squad films) segment of Show do Tom.

2010 elections[edit]

In 2010, Tiririca announced he would run for the National Congress after being invited by the Brazilian Republic Party. He appeared in television ads in his Tiririca persona and used slogans including "O que é que faz um deputado federal? Na realidade, eu não sei. Mas vote em mim que eu te conto" ("What does a federal congressman do? I really don't know – but vote for me and I'll let you know"), "Pior que está não fica, vote no Tiririca" ("It can't get any worse, vote Tiririca") and even "Se eleito prometo ajudar todas as famílias brasileiras...especialmente a minha" ("If elected I promise I will help all Brazilian families... especially mine").

Such slogans moved a group of state congressional candidates to complain with the electoral attorney's office that Tiririca was insulting the National Congress and all public offices because of his lack of political projects and also his satirical approach to the traditionally corrupt Brazilian political system. The complaint, however, was filed away.[2]

Tiririca was denounced as an illiterate by Época magazine in its 24 September 2010 edition. This statement, if true, would invalidate his candidacy.[3] Soon after the release of the Época edition that claimed Tiririca's illiteracy, prosecutor Maurício Lopes sued Tiririca for forging his signature in his candidacy forms. Despite the trial having not yet taken place and all the negative propaganda about his alleged illiteracy, on 3 October 2010, Tiririca became the most-voted-for Congressman in the 2010 Brazilian general elections (and the second-most-voted-for in Brazilian history, after Enéas Carneiro), winning his seat for São Paulo state with 1,348,295 votes (6.35 percent).[4]

On 30 October 2010, Tiririca's defense team alleged that he suffered from dysgraphia, which prevented him from holding a pen firmly. They further alleged that Tiririca's wife helped him write the literacy statement in his own hand, as demanded by Brazilian electoral law. She is said to have placed her hand over his to help him hold the pen firmly as he was writing. Also because of this condition, the defense said, Tiririca could not take any writing tests.

The explanation, however, runs counter to a video recorded by Época in September that gave rise to the suspicions of illiteracy. The pictures show Tiririca giving his autograph to a fan. On foot, suddenly, Tiririca secures a notebook with his left hand and scribbles a circular signature with his right hand. He further writes the letters for his name. He shows no trouble whatsoever holding the pen.[5]

After many discussions and judicial tribulations, Tiririca underwent a simple reading and writing test and on 11 November 2010, he finally proved that he was indeed literate. Although the prosecutor appealed against this decision, claiming that his thirty-percent score in the test was too low to prove anything, the federal judge Walter de Almeida Guilherme rejected the appeal.

Thus, Tiririca received his federal congressman certificate under heavy applause by the people present in the ceremony on 17 December 2010. That same day Tiririca revealed his political project, focused primarily in helping circus artists, financing cultural projects, helping fight the prejudice against Northeastern people that is present in the southern regions of Brazil and increasing funds to primary education.[6]

A curious fact is that two days before he received his certificate (15 December 2010), during his first visit to the Brazilian Congress building, the Brazilian congressesmen had approved a salary raise of sixty percent for themselves. When asked about the fact by a news reporter, Tiririca said "Dei sorte...no meu primeiro dia ganhei um aumento!!" ("I guess I'm lucky... on my first day I got a raise!!")

Racism[edit]

Sony Music has been condemned for inciting racism against blacks and ordered to pay $1.2 million in retroactive compensation back to 1997 for the release of the song "Veja os Cabelos Dela" ("Look at Her Hair") by Tiririca.[7] The singer is not white himself but mixed race.

See also[edit]

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