Gorafi, the truer than true humor company

You know the “passive roll”? You’ve probably already practiced it. It is about scrolling the contents of your social networks while they are amorphous, some can spend hours there without even realizing it. In this abundance of laziness, there are few things that attract your attention, with the possible exception of a website that bears an odd resemblance to a major national media outlet. Its name, Le Gorafi, evokes something for you: is it the newspaper that “without the freedom to blame, there is no flattering praise”? Not far, but almost verlan. The article will make you smile, if not outright giggle. Gorafi accomplishes his mission. Its motto is eloquently: “All information according to conflicting sources since 1826”.

The satirical reference site has been around since 2012. Ten years later, Le Gorafi is part of everyday language, but is not yet in the dictionary. “Whether we enter Larousse or Petit Robert, that would be the ultimate goal”, says (without laughing) the founder of the site. Sébastien Liébus parodies the codes of information and breaks that of the press manager: in his forties with a benevolent smile, accompanied by thick glasses held by a string, he wears a loose T-shirt and flip-flops. However, they are not public holidays. The Gorafi is spinning, as the notifications on his phone remind us, whereupon he is very happy to show the many retweets generated by the site’s latest publications.

facial expression. One post remains entrenched more than the others in satirical media history. In September 2012, an article is a hit and contributes to the beginning of Gorafi’s fame. For smiling in the subway, he ends up in police custody, he says. Some did not yet know the concept of the site and “real” media is picking it up. Even a colleague of Sébastien Liébus at Live tomorrow – off daily where he worked at the time – rushes to postpone the closing and throw away this news when he learns that the author is none other than his office neighbor. “It’s a joke! “, he warns him just before the blunder.

But Le Gorafi is truer than true. He uses all the expressions of the journalists. Gorafien permanently walks a tightrope with on the one hand the real fact from which he draws his inspiration, on the other hand the fake news, the ultimate and banished vice. Satire is in the middle, it is a subtle humor and above all very demanding, even strict. “It is operation, photo Sébastien Liébus. We have three axes: The quality and solidity of the valves, the regularity and the fact that you do not catch people. We are joking, but very seriously. Otherwise we would not have existed for ten years. »

But on several occasions, Gorafi’s articles are taken for face value, political figures, but the media also fall for themselves. Thus, in 2014, did the executive board announce the postponement of the family law, which part of the right wing opposed: a “provisional strategy for advancement with deferred potential”? The formula invented from scratch by Le Gorafi is taken up as an argument by Christine Boutin live on TV. Marine Le Pen wants to build a wall between France and Algeria, which the country will finance (2017)? The joke is on the front page of the Algerian newspaper El Hayat, as the source of Gorafi. Jean-Luc Mélenchon traveling in a private jet while drinking champagne (2017)? Taken up in Atlantico’s columns on a background of indiscretion in the ear also there at Gorafi. “Yes, there is a power of laughter,” says the founder.

Musicality. In the previous presidential election campaign, it goes even further. A fake interview with Emmanuel Macron made in Gorafi was published in 2016. “When I shake hands with a poor person, I feel dirty all day”, she mocks the current president and then economy minister. Just between the two towers, when Emmanuel Macron goes to the Whirpool factory in Amiens, he is challenged by employees who mock that their hands are clean and that he can therefore greet them without fear. Malicious websites had taken over and exploited the joke for political purposes. A recall had to be made by Le Gorafi when he realized the drift.

Macron Whirlpool 18/07/2022 Hélin

Emmanuel Macron at the Whirlpool factory in Amiens on April 26, 2017.

SipaPress

In the construction of the satire, the dozen schoolboy authors must strive to preserve the musicality specific to the press title. Which can cause confusion, but which is nevertheless the core of the making of the joke. “The human brain will say to itself that it evokes something for it,” explains Sébastien Liébus, who knows the inner workings of an article by heart. Sometimes you just need to change two words. »

Once a week, Gorafi’s editorial team meets by video conference. The authors, all freelancers, enter their ideas for titles in a shared document. Usually about 20 each. Only 10% is withheld. “We make each other laugh because we have known each other for a long time. But in meetings it is no longer a joke: we put ourselves at the service of Gorafi and his demands,” explains Clément Charton, also a writer for other media comedians.

Gorafification. Since all this time, Sébastien Liébus has noticed that some press titles could very well be his. Evidence of a general “gorification” of the media? “We criticize the excesses of journalism. Yes, I think we may have influenced the titles of some real newspapers, but they are ridiculous. I tell them: it’s not your job! Your job is much more exciting. »

Behind the titles of Gorafi, always close to the news, there are clicks that pay: two million unique visitors to the site, proof that the catchy technique (and above all, a lot of fun) works. “From the beginning we have been a real business”, Sébastien Liébus makes no secret. Last November, Le Gorafi was bought by the DC Company, a company led by entrepreneur Geoffrey La Rocca, former director of advertising agency Teads. The size of this first acquisition was not disclosed.

This takeover also brings Le Gorafi a little more into the logic of a real medium… except, perhaps, making money. “We’re targeting community media and Gorafi’s is very broad, acknowledges Geoffrey La Rocca, a former journalist. We all have an appeal to humour, so there’s a lot of potential. There’s still a very urban side we can gain market share. We have regained a balanced basis and I can already tell you that we have moved into a logic of profitability and that we will be able to invest. This nostalgic of “Guignols de l’info” sees Le Gorafi as their noble successor.

What started as just a blog to poke fun at the conservative side of Figaro – “who love us a lot for all that”, clarifies Sébastien Liébus – has become a media company of laughter. The comedian Pablo Mira, who joined the adventure very early as a co-founder (he left it in 2016), had driven the Gorafi brand for the set of the “Grand Journal” of Canal +, where he donned the costume of a news anchor. “You wouldn’t be doing this job if you weren’t depressed,” he regularly told Sébastien Liébus.

The latter can be reassured, he is not alone in his case. Satire is international with The Onion as a model in the USA, which remains an eternal source of inspiration for Le Gorafi. For ten years the French satirical media have been at his level, so they have offered him to join an international satirical consortium. And this is not a joke.

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