An Actual Comedian Is Leading in Guatemala's Presidential Race

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Jimmy Morales, an evangelical Christian and comedic actor who has been known to play roles in blackface, scored a surprise first-place finish this weekend. After garnering nearly 24 percent of the vote, he will face the to-be-determined second-place finisher in a run-off next month.

Morales’s coup bestowed the Internet commentariat with the opportunity to make several variations of this joke:

This observation by the head of Human Rights Watch makes the larger, more serious point:

Surpassing the convenience of a readymade joke, outsiders continue to enjoy a moment in both American and Guatemalan politics.

My colleague David notes that even as the novelty aspect of Donald Trump’s candidacy diminishes, others like Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, who have also never won a race for elected office, are also enjoying steady rises of their own as some GOP voters bristle at establishment candidates. That may also account for Bernie Sanders’s sustained showing on the Democrats’ side; after all, he’s rarely known to tell a joke: