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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"As Themselves", absurdly funny celebrities

As Themselves (Ellos Mismos, Spanish original title)- Joaquín Reyes

Making people laugh is a very difficult to achieve. Besides, humour is a very personal thing, so there are (almost) as many opinions on what's funny and what's not as humans on the planet. In Spain, there's a crude, prudish humour, rancid, that has to do more with the ancient regime and those who would not want to move from it. I could name some TV channels or programs, but if you live here, you know which ones I'm referring. But there's also another type of humour, way more recommendable and for the one that is writing, of course, amusing.

One of his most notable exponents of this humour is Joaquín Reyes, author of "As Themselves", that together with his troupe of buddies has offered us refreshing comical TV shows like "La Hora Chanante" or "Muchachada Nui (¡Nui!)", or more recently (and less remarkably) "Museo Coconut". These very recommendable shows (the first two mentioned) had a unique style of humour mixing the absurd (frequently delirious) with childish jokes (those costumes) and demanding a lot of complicity with the audience. To achieve that connection, they created several characters the public easily recognized/sympathised with, and used the imitation of celebrities as a common resource, with hilarious, sometimes unforgettable results. What Joaquín Reyes offers in "As Themselves" is the translation of that celebrity parodies to a cartoon.

This book is a compilation of these cartoons, previously published on nation-wide newspapers El Periódico and El País, creating some new ones as links to give some coherency to the whole product. The structure is pretty simple, the caricatured celebrity introduces himself/herself, and with a disarming and surreal sincerity, show us a mundane, zero-glamour revelation. This sort of "public scrutiny" brings some screamingly funny and completely unexpected situations, with shocking one-liners and/or side notes by the "Cactus" (yes I said Cactus) or the author himself. It's quite amazing to see how Reyes is capable of making the celebrity confess his/her exaggerated defect/current situation, one that easily connects with the reader (as we already knew it, or at least suspected), in such a condensed space. Even the same cartoonist doesn't escape from this scrutiny (so we can empathise with him). 

Some might say not every celebrity is equally accomplished, or, in my opinion, the monkey character that connects the cartoons is not as entertaining as the stories itself. But cartoons like Giménez Losantos, Sánchez-Drago, Lenny Kravitz, Nicolas Cage, David Hasselhoff, Fernando Alonso, Pitita Ridruejo, Matthew McConaughey, Bono, Manu Chao, and a long etc, are reason enough to justify checking "As Themselves". Laughs are granted.

SCORE: 7/10 

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