"On a weekday in March the streets of Tehran were deserted, as many of its 14 million inhabitants had gone away for Norouz – the Iranian New Year, marking the beginning of spring. In the Tajrish bazaar in the north of the city, a hand-written notice on card stood out: the latest DVD of Bitter Coffee was in stock. This comedy series, co-written, directed and produced by its star, Mehran Modiri, is available everywhere, in grocery shops and newspaper stands. Modiri has been appearing on Iranian television for 20 years, and his act has evolved with society. He uses gentle humour and farce, and never criticises the regime; although he occasionally pokes fun at television presenters based abroad, his material is not usually political.
Each Bitter Coffee DVD covers three episodes, and sells 1.5m copies, at $2 (easily affordable by the middle classes) to discourage pirating, which is widespread. The series has its own website, Facebook page and Twitter account, and entries on Wikipedia in Persian and English. It is set in a medieval royal court, ridiculing courtiers and despotism. Viewers can draw parallels between the characters and historical personalities, from members of the former regime (including Reza Shah) to those currently in power."