Tunisian Television: Poking Fun at the Fallen
Published Friday, July 27, 2012
After Tunisian artists were deprived for years of freedom of expression, Tunisia today is taking its revenge through comedy during the month of Ramadan.
The ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali is the lead character in most comedy shows on Tunisian satellite TV channels and radio stations.
The new politicians have also become the butt of jokes and the targets of scathing criticism from comedians.
The three private local channels Tunisia, Nessma, and al-Alamia chose the new political class to be the subject of shows similar to the famous French program Les Guignols de l’info (News Puppets) on Canal+.
Al-Alamia is entering Ramadan’s competitive season for the first time.
It is broadcasting the comic show Tartouriat, which mocks Tunisian figures in the worlds of politics, business, and sports, like President Moncef Marzouki, sports minister and footballer Tarek Diab, billionare and president of the Free Patriotic Union party Slim Riahi, among others.
Nessma and Tunisia are sparring over rights to the series Guignols, which Nessma called Les Guignols du Maghreb and Tunisia called Kalabes (the Sketches).
The first state-run channel is daily presenting a Hidden Camera-type show called A Politician in the Trap.
In each episode they host a politician in an interview where he is subjected to bizarre situations in order to expose his reactions to certain issues.
Some of the “victims” of this show were Sheikh Abdel Fattah Moro, the historic leader of al-Nahda movement and member of the Constituent Assembly and Tahar Hamila, also a member of the Constituent Assembly, known for his daring political stands.
The second state-run channel is airing a comedy show called Bye Bye Unemployment that centers around the issue of unemployed university graduates, who were the ones that unleashed the Tunisian revolution.
The new TV channel al-Janoubia decided to produce a comedy show called Café Mexico.
The show centers on four ousted presidents, Tunisia’s Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, who meet at Café Mexico.
There the sacked presidents engage in discussions about their political careers and their view of what is going on in their countries today in a comical framework.
Hannibal TV is airing episodes of its famous social show Mousameh Karim (Forgive and Forget), where Abdelrazek Echebbi hosts a puppet version of the ousted president Ben Ali and brings along political activists whom he persecuted during his reign.
So this year Tunisians are spending their Ramadan nights watching their local channels once again show nothing but Ben Ali’s image, but this time as the butt of jokes and an object of ridicule.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.