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Herman José awarded Cultural Merit medal

Atualizado: 28 de mar.

Rodrigo Antunes | LUSA

On the day of his 70th birthday, the Portuguese comedian/entertainer Herman José received the Medal of Cultural Merit from Prime Minister António Costa at an event held at São Bento Palace.

Describing José as a "comedian unconditionally committed to freedom," Costa said that, thanks to his work, democracy has moved "out of black and white television" and into colour.

"The Portuguese government pays him this public tribute by awarding him the Medal of Cultural Merit, in recognition of the invaluable work of a life dedicated to television and the performing arts, to radio and, in particular, for his pioneering work as a comedian unconditionally committed to freedom."

Herman José began his acting career a few months after 25 April 1974 and, since then, has created such classic TV programmmes, such as "O Tal Canal" and "Herman Enciclopédia", which marked a "historic and revolutionary change in the type of humour" that was made in Portugal.

The freedom that the comedian brought to prime time television was, for the Prime Minister, "a true test of maturity for a democracy that was still young". He added: "Humour is vital for any democratic society because it tests the freedom of expression in that society. With Herman José we have learned that, even in a democracy, humour is sometimes an act of courage."

In 2023, Herman José was honoured by the President of the Republic for his unparalleled 50-year career. At the time, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa emphasised the importance of the comedian who, he says, "brought a new and cosmopolitan breath to Portuguese comedy".

"Thirty-one years after the thrill of receiving the Order of Merit from Mário Soares, President Marcelo has upped the ante and is generous enough to honour my fifty-year career by appointing me Grand Officer of the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator. They say you can't have two without three. I am therefore humbly awaiting the surprises that the next fifty years will bring. In the meantime, I'm thrilled and delighted to be honoured," said Herman on social media.

Watch below his memorable interview with Amália Rodrigues in 1994:

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