Asif Jalali, a well-known Afghan TV actor who gained renown for his political satire and stand-up comedy, has died in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Sabir Mohmand, a spokesman for the Ministry of Information and Culture, told RFE/RL that Jalali died on January 1 of a heart attack, but provided no further details.
Sayeed Rahmani, the head of the Afghan National Theater, said Jalali was born in 1957 in northeastern Afghanistan.
Jalali hosted several shows on local Afghan broadcasters, including the popular program Shabkhand (“Evening Laughter”).
His comedy blazed a trail in Afghanistan, where political satire was a new phenomenon after years of tightly constrained media programming, and long-standing fears of angering religious conservatives.
"The aim of my comedy is to challenge the wrongs in my society," he told the BBC in a profile that aired in 2011, "so that if they see a minister, they think he is rubbish. My other aim is to make people laugh."
Film director Latif Ahmadi told the dpa news agency that Jalali started his artistic career in commercials some 13 years ago. He also appeared in the famous Afghani drama Bulbul, in which he played the love interest of a female character.
His death surprised many across Afghanistan, and some of his fans took to social media to honor him.
"Jalali did God's work by making us laugh," Saad Mohseni, who heads the group that owns local broadcaster TOLO TV,said on Twitter.
There was no immediate word on survivors. Dpa reported that he had five children.
With reporting by dpa