The Greatest Czech Man that Never Existed

Jára Cimrman

The great hero of the Czech nation is surrounded by mystery. Jára Cimrman brought important technological inventions like the dynamo, the cinematograph, the battery and many other things. The issue was that he brought the inventions always a moment too late to the Patent Office so the inventions were already registered by someone else.

He was one of the greatest dramatists, poets, musicians, teachers, travellers, philosophers, inventors, scientists, criminalists and athletes of his time. He had also invented the CD (the Cimrman's Disk), he wrote all the plays for the Cimrman Theatre and he won the prize of the Greatest Czech in 2005.

For the people who think that all of these things written above are obvious lies, it is important to say that not really. Jára Cimrman won the prize of the Greatest Czech in 2005. To tell whole the truth, not only that the other things he supposedly did are lies, Jára Cimrman never existed. At least not as a real person. So why did people vote for a non-existent person to become the Greatest Czech?

Everything has started when Zdeněk Svěrák made a radio show (Non-alcoholic) Wine Bar at Spider's in the 60's and he introduced Jára Cimrman in this show for the first time. Later the same year, Zdeněk Svěrák with Ladislav Smoljak, Jiří Šebánek and Miloň Čepelka founded the Cimrman's Theatre in Prague. They also made up whole the personality and the life story of Jára Cimrman and introduced him as the author of all the plays from the theatre.

According to Zdeněk Svěrák, Jára Cimrman represents the idea of the Czech attitude and mentality and that is why Czech people like him. The disappointed good man who always has the bad luck, the nation of people who would show the world the great talents they have, if there would not be always some obstacle or reason why they cannot show it. Another reason why people like Jára Cimrman and his theatre is the style of the actors: saying obvious lies, nonsense or describing funny situations with calm and serious face.

There has been a movie about Jára Cimrman made in 80's. It is called Jára Cimrman ležící, spící/Jára Cimrman Lying, Sleeping and there are English subtitles available for this movie online. The movie is about the life of this great fictional man. The Theatre of Jára Cimrman also plays some of the pieces in English with British professional actors living in the Czech Republic. Check the theatre’s website for more information:


Documentary Komici na jedničku (Czech TV)