Spanish actor and comedian Juan Joya Borja, also known as “El Risitas” and the face behind the iconic “Spanish Laughing Guy” meme, has passed away at the age of 65 years old due to an illness.
In english, “el risitas” means “the giggles,” and that’s an apt nickname for Borja. The Spanish comedian and actor surged toward internet fame in 2015, as a YouTube video of him laughing during an interview spawned dozens of celebrated parody clips.
His face is also widespread on streaming platform Twitch, as the now iconic ‘KEKW’ emote.
Beset by an illness in 2020, the Spanish celebrity struggled on-and-off until a relapse led to his passing on April 28, 2021. In the minutes and hours since, much of the internet have come together to share condolences and fondly remember his giggles.
— ABC de Sevilla (@abcdesevilla) April 28, 2021
As shared by ABC de Sevilla, Borja passed away in the hospital at the center of his Seville hometown. Growing up in the capital of Andalucia, Spain, the comedian and actor originally worked in the kitchen and on construction sites.
After gaining television exposure around 2007 on Ratones Coloraos, Borja’s infamous laughter didn’t earn worldwide attention until 2015. After a series of parodies received international love, originally in places like Egypt and Spain, one of the biggest hits was an American YouTube video pretending that Borja was an Apple engineer: “Apple Engineer Talks about the New 2015 Macbook.”
With hundreds of comments and replies across social media sharing hearts, condolences, and recognition of Borja as a “maestro,” it’s clear that the comedian’s laughter had a serious impact on many lives.
Once the internet realized he had become ill with issues including diabetes, thousands of euros were raised for his medical care — with a focused effort from French video site jeuxvideo. Before passing, the web sensation thanked all of his supporters for donating to help him.
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Across social media, users are remembering El Risita’s unique giggle and wishing him peace in the afterlife. Dubbing him an internet “legend,” people from around the world thank Borja for years spent laughing with him and the various subtitled parodies he inspired.