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Brazilian Clown Returns to the Stage After Leaving Congress in Disgust

Facebook/Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva
Facebook/Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva

Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva, better known as the acclaimed Brazilian clown “Tiririca” (Grumpy), returned to the stage in the nation’s capital this week for a one-man show loosely based on his life. The event marks a return to Brasilia stages for the clown after seven years in the nation’s congress.

Tiririca, as he is commonly referred to, announced he would not run for re-election to the Brazilian Congress in December, proclaiming his disgust with the widespread corruption and ineffectiveness of the nation’s federal government in the first and last floor speech of his tenure.

During his first campaign run in 2010, Tiririca ran on the slogan “It can’t get any worse” and made no campaign promises, other than to “find out” whatever it is that lawmakers do.

Local Brasilia news reports advertised the capital debut of Tiririca’s new show, My Story, this weekend:

When the eight-year-old child Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva entered the ring for the first time in the interior of Ceará, he never imagined that, sometime later, he would be known throughout all of Brazil as Tiririca the Clown—and much less that he would occupy a seat in the Chamber of Deputies [the lower chamber of Congress].

This is the story he tells in Tiririca: My Story, a spectacular that arrives for the first time to the stages of theaters in the capital this weekend.

The review describes the show as “a sort of memoir” on his time as a clown, trapeze artist, juggler, magician, and congressman.

Tiririca was elected with over a million votes to represent Sao Paulo as a member of the minority Brazilian Republic Party, a centrist party. After rumors that he was illiterate forced him to take a literacy test, which he passed, the lawmaker was re-elected in another million-plus-vote landslide in 2014. A 2015 study of the productiveness of Brazil’s Congress found that Tiririca was the only legislator in a body of over 500 people to have a perfect attendance record through his entire first term.

In seven years, O Globo notes, Tiririca only got one bill passed to committee—a bill that recognizes the circus as part of Brazil’s cultural heritage. In 2016, Tiririca briefly addressed Congress to vote “yes” to impeach leftist President Dilma Rousseff. At the time, Tiririca expressed disappointment with the levity of other congressmen in such a historic vote, reportedly warning them “this is no place for a show.”

Tiririca’s first and last speech to his colleagues on the House floor occurred in December, and it was as honest as his campaign slogan in 2010.

“I stand here before you for the first and last time. I am sad as crap, I am really upset with the parliament,” he lamented. “I didn’t do much, but I did what I was paid to do. I leave ashamed of what I saw in these seven years. I would like that you … listen more to the people.”

“I walk with my head up high because I did nothing wrong, but many of you do not have the guts to do that. You even put disguises to go out. Being a congressman is a shame,” he continued. “Everyone knows that we’re paid well to work, but not everyone does work. There are 513 deputies, only eight come regularly. And I’m one of those eight, and I’m a circus clown.”

“I didn’t do anything, but the little I did, I did with my head held high,” the lawmaker said.

O Globo published evidence that Tiririca may have been corrupted by the influence of Congress. According to the newspaper, the lawmaker “used public money to buy plane tickets for himself and his staff to locations where he would appear as a humorist.” The newspaper claims Tiririca bought himself at least one nearly $900 flight on the taxpayers’ tab to Ipatinga, where he had agreed to perform the night he was to arrive.

This three-digit-size corruption, if true, pales in comparison to what many in the higher ranks of Brazil’s political power structure stand accused—and have been convicted—of stealing. The frontrunner in this year’s presidential election, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has been convicted of stealing millions for a beachfront property as part of a larger corruption scheme known as “Operation Car Wash,” and has been sentenced to 12 years in prison on appeal.

The latest poll by firm Datafolha found that Lula would win the presidential election if held in February, even though most respondents would like to see him in jail

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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