The Slovenia Times

Sašo Hribar, comedian extraordinaire, has died

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Sašo Hribar at a session of the RTV Slovenija council in 2023. Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Sašo Hribar, an award-winning satirist and the bane of Slovenian politicians, died aged 63 just hours after finishing recording his weekly satirical radio show on 8 September.

Radio Ga-Ga, on the air on national public radio since 1989, featured Hribar and later an ever expanding and changing cast of voice actors imitating politicians and other celebrities. Many of the young actors would become comedians in their own right.

Regardless of political orientation, all politicians received the same brutally honest satirical treatment in what was a geeky, sometimes dark and always humanistic commentary on current political events.

Hribar, who had a degree in metallurgy, started working at the national public radio in 1985 and began drawing a large audience when he made up an interviewee during the night programme.

This led to the idea for Radio Ga-Ga, and later to Hri-Bar, a pioneering satirical TV show that ran between 2006 and 2010 and featured a mix of real-life and CGI characters and was considered some of the best political commentary at the time.

Hribar said about his characters - there were over thirty based on real or imaginary persons - that politics had become vulgar and had lost decency, which is why "I turned things upside down and made them more loving in my show, more human."

"I have given them character traits that they do not possess, but that are more human, kinder... I present them in a lovely light even as I make fun of them."

Hribar was also a vocal fighter for journalistic independence and for years represented employees on the council of RTV Slovenija. During the last year and a half, when the broadcaster was fighting off attempts at political subjugation, he often spoke up for his colleagues and for media independence.

News of his death led to an outpouring of grief on social media. His colleagues said in a joint statement they were shocked at the loss of a radio personality who would be remembered "as an extraordinary satirist but also as an extraordinary human, co-worker and friend."

Even some politicians that he ridiculed expressed condolences. President Nataša Pirc Musar said the "unique humour will remain written in eternity," while Prime Minister Robert Golob said Slovenia had lost "one of the wittiest and most groundbreaking radio and TV creators."

Defence Minister Marjan Šarec, who starred alongside Hribar for many years in his previous career as comedian and then became the subject of the show when he ventured into politics, described him as "maladjusted ... but precisely because of that a special kind of artist, one-of-a-kind and unique.

"You either understood him and loved him, or you considered his satire as inappropriate. I venture to say the former outnumber the latter," he said


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