Spanish comedian Juan Joya Borja has died at age 65, according to local reports. The comedian, better known as El Risitas, gained international fame after clips from his appearance on a television show created the “Spanish laughing guy” meme.
His iconic laughing face remained popular in the form of a Twitch emote named KEKW, created in 2019. The KEKW guy image is used on the streaming platform to emote laughter.
ABC, a Spanish daily newspaper, reported that El Risitas suffered from a vascular disease that was attributed to his death. He was hospitalized in Hospital de la Caridad in Seville in September 2020, where he had a leg amputated due to his illness. He remained in hospital care for several months.
Last month, the Spanish comedian thanked fans for raising funds to buy him a mobility scooter.
Borja was transferred from the Hospital de la Caridad in Seville to the Virgen del Rocío University Hospital in Seville where he died on Wednesday afternoon. ABC Seville reports that Borja suffered a sudden relapse of his illness.
Origin of the Spanish Meme Guy
In 2015, an eight-year-old interview of El Risitas (The Giggles in English) went viral. In the original interview from 2007, the comedian tells a story about when he worked as a kitchen porter on a Spanish chat show named Ratones Coloraos.
Borja explained in the story that he was asked to wash 19 paella pans, so he left them in the sea at a low tide. When he returned to collect the pans the next day, the tide returned and washed the pans out to the sea.
He then burst into his famous infectious laughter and his story has been memed in several languages with a different context.
The Apple engineer spoof video, which features an English dubbed version of Juan Jota Borja’s story, making fun of the 2015 MacBook went viral.
El Risitas rose to fame in his local country around the year 2000 after appearing in television programs hosted by Spanish television host Jesús Quintero. The Spanish Laughing Guy meme has been used in political attacks, and his laughing face remains a popular emoticon on streaming platform Twitch.
Following the news of his death, Spanish celebrities as well as the members of Twitch gaming community have been paying tribute.
Popular Twitch streamer MrDalekJD paid tribute on Twitter: “Aww man… RIP to El Risitas, an absolute internet legend. No one is going to forget that infectious KEKW laugh anytime soon.”
One of the memes featuring the late comedian has over 8 million views on YouTube.