The Gorafi, the truer than true humor business

Do you know the “passive scroll”? Sure, you’ve already practiced it. It’s about scrolling the content of your social networks while being amorphous, some can spend hours there, without even realizing it. In this excess of laziness, few things attract your attention, with the possible exception of a site curiously resembling that of a major national media. Its name, Le Gorafi, you evoke something: is it the newspaper for which “without the freedom to blame, there is no flattering praise”? Not far, but almost verlan. The article makes you smile, if not downright giggle. The Gorafi accomplishes its mission. Its motto is eloquent: “All information according to contradictory sources since 1826”.

The reference satirical site has existed since 2012. Ten years later, Le Gorafi is part of everyday language, but is not yet in the dictionary. “Whether we enter the Larousse or the Petit Robert, that would be the ultimate objective”, slips (without laughing) the founder of the site. Sébastien Liébus parodies the codes of information and breaks those of the press boss: forties with a benevolent smile, accompanied by thick glasses held by a cord, he wears a loose T-shirt and flip-flops. However, it is not the holidays. The Gorafi rotates, how slowly recalling the notifications from his phone, on which he is very happy to show the many retweets generated by the site’s latest publications.

facial expressions. A post remains anchored more than the others in the history of the satirical medium. In September 2012, an article is a hit and contributes to the beginning of Gorafi’s notoriety. “Too smiling in the metro, he ends up in police custody,” he says. Some did not yet know the concept of the site and “real” media take it up. Even a colleague of Sébastien Liébus at direct morning – free daily where he worked then – rushes to delay the closing and slip 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. The Gorafi walks permanently on a wire with on one side the real fact, where he draws his inspiration, on the other 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’s surgery, image Sébastien Liébus. On three axes: the quality and the solidity of the valves, the regularity and the fact of not trapping people. We are joking but very precisely. Otherwise, it doesn’t work ten years that we exist. »

However, on several occasions, the articles of Gorafi are taken at face value, political figures but also the media trap themselves. Thus, did the executive announce in 2014 the report of the family law, which was opposed by part of the right: 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 television. Marine Le Pen wants to build a wall between France and Algeria, which the country will have to finance (2017)? The joke is found in one of the Algerian newspaper El Hayat, which the source of the Gorafi. Jean-Luc Mélenchon travels in a private jet while drinking champagne (2017)? Taken up in the columns of Atlantico on a background of indiscretion in the ear, there too, of the Gorafi. “Yes, there is a power of laughter,” says the founder.

Musicality. In the previous presidential 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 for the whole day”, she mocks the current president and then Minister of the Economy. Right between the two towers, when Emmanuel Macron goes to the Whirpool factory in Amiens, he is challenged by employees mocking that their hands are clean and that he can therefore greet them without fear. Malicious sites had taken over and exploited the joke for political purposes. A recall had to be made by Le Gorafi, realizing the drift.

Macron Tourbillon 07/18/2022 Hélin

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

Sipa press

In the construction of the satire, the dozen schoolboy authors must strive to preserve the musicality specific to the press title. Which can create confusion but which is nevertheless at the heart of the making of the joke. “The human brain will tell itself that it reminds it of something, explains Sébastien Liébus, who knows the inner workings of an article by heart. Sometimes all it takes is changing two words. »

Once a week, the editorial staff of Gorafi meets by videoconference. The authors, all freelancers, enter their ideas for titles in a shared document. usually about 20 each. Only 10% are retained. “We make each other laugh because we have known each other for a long time. But in meetings, it’s no longer a joke: we put ourselves at the service of the Gorafi and his requirement, ”explains Clément Charton, also an author for other media comedians.

Gorafization. All this time, Sébastien Liébus has noticed that some press titles could very well be those of his site. Proof of a general “gorafization” of the media? “On the criticism of the excesses of journalism. Yes, I think we may have influenced the way of titles of some real newspapers, but they are ridiculous. I tell them: it’s not your job! Your profession is much more passionate. »

Behind the titles of Gorafi, always close to the news, there is clicks that pay off: two million unique visitors to the site, proof that the catchy technique (and above all very funny) works. “The beginning, we are a real business”, does not hide Sébastien Liébus. Last November, Le Gorafi was bought by DC Company, a company headed by entrepreneur Geoffrey La Rocca, former director of advertising agency Teads. The amount of this first acquisition has not been revealed.

This takeover also brings Le Gorafi a little more into the logic of a real media… except, perhaps, that it makes money. “We are targeting community media, and that of Gorafi is very broad, recognizes Geoffrey La Rocca, a former journalist. On a whole an attraction for humor, there is therefore a big potential. There is still a very urban side, we can gain market share. We have recovered a balanced base, 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 the “Guignols de l’info” sees Le Gorafi as their noble successor.

What started out as just a blog to poke fun at the conservative side of the Figaro – “who loves us very much for all that”, specifies Sébastien Liébus – has turned into a media enterprise of laughter. The comedian Pablo Mira, who joined the adventure very early as a co-founder (he left it in 2016), had propelled the Gorafi brand to the set of the “Grand Journal” of Canal +, where he put on the costume of a news presenter. “You wouldn’t do this job if you weren’t depressed,” he regularly told Sébastien Liébus.

The latter can be reassured, he is not alone in his case. The satire is international with the model, The Onion, in the United States, which remains an eternal source of inspiration for Le Gorafi. For ten years, the French satirical media has been at his level, to the point of offering him to join an international satire consortium. And this is not a joke.

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