Pedro Penim

Humor Maligno

Malign Humour

Who can say whether what we do today will seem inhumane tomorrow?

In 1782, a widow, remembered by history simply as Mrs Fitzherbert, died after laughing for more than 24 hours straight following a performance of The Beggar’s Opera in a London theatre. Sitting in the audience, she began to laugh uncontrollably when a male actor took to the stage dressed as Polly Peachum. Her giggles were such that she had to leave the theatre before the end of the second act. The obituary published in The Gentleman’s Magazine related that ‘not being able to banish the figure from her memory, she was thrown into hysterics, which continued without intermission [from Wednesday night] until she expired on Friday morning.’ 

Mrs Fitzherbert was not just immensely transphobic but she also took the idea of laughing until you’re breathless a little too far. 

This process is called Fatal Hilarity, death caused by a fit of laughter to the point of asphyxia, cardiac arrest, pneumothorax… 

In 1939, a year when it seemed like no one wanted/was able to laugh, André Breton published the first version of the Anthology of Black Humour, thus coining a term that allows us to laugh at the misfortune of others (or at misfortune, period), offering the experience of giggles and discomfort, often at the same time.

It hurts when we laugh.

That’s Malign Humour. It’s gallows humour.

Pedro Penim


Pedro Penim

Pedro Penim and Hugo van der Ding

Angelina Mateus, Carlos Fernandes, Carlos Nery, Catarina Rico, Cristina Gonçalves, Elisa Worm, Helena Marchand, Isabel Millet, Isabel Simões, João Silvestre, Jorge Leal Cardoso, Júlia Guerra, Kimberley Ribeiro, Manuela de Sousa Rama, Maria Emília Castanheira, Maria Helena Falé, Maria José Baião, Mário Figueiredo, Paula Bárcia

With the special participation of
Hugo van der Ding

Set designer
Bárbara Falcão Fernandes
Costume designer
Joana Barrios
Lighting designer
Daniel Worm
Staging assistant
Óscar Silva
Bruno Simão
Marco Arantes
Executive production
Companhia Maior
Producer from Companhia Maior
Luís Moreira

Centro Cultural de Belém
Companhia Maior

Lisbon City Council
Belém Parish Council
Turismo de Lisboa

El Corte Inglês
ESPAZO self-storage


Eficácia Livre
Restaurante Andorinhas
Centro Social de Belém
Rita Vasconcelos
Madalena Costa
André e. Teodósio

This play quotes Agatha Christie, André Breton, André e. Teodósio, Anne Geddes, Botho Strauss, Chris Dercon, Holger Syme, Jimmy Carr, Jonathan Lowen, Jonathan Swift, José Maria Vieira Mendes, Louis C. K., Miley Cyrus, Olav Westphalen, Paul B. Preciado, Roee Rosen, Sarah Silverman, South Park, and Woody Allen. Companhia Maior. And the Internet.


18 – 21 November 2017
Centro Cultural de Belém

Photos: © Bruno Simão

© Companhia Maior