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Actor, presenter and pioneer of stand-up in Colombia with works such as La Pelota de Letras or Me pido la ventana. PHOTOGRAPHY: Al Día News.
Actor, presenter and pioneer of stand-up in Colombia with works such as La Pelota de Letras or Me pido la ventana. PHOTOGRAPHY: Al Día News.

Out of Joke, A Conversation With Comedian Andrés López

Andrés López has been working comedy for more than a decade, and his intimate reflections on the inner workings of humor almost resemble those of a humanist.

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May 24th, 2022

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Humor dresses us from the most intimate; it serves us to protect our feelings and to confront the skin of prejudice with the public. In this section, OUT OF JOKE, we get serious and ask the most important Latinx comedians about the mysteries of comedy.

You surely recognize Andrés López from when he embodied one of your relatives' Caribbean accent, recreating the gestures of the Peruvians, or the lines for the bellaqueo. To jump so precisely from one thing to the other requires an anthropologist or a humanist graduate's precision. However, his touch is that of a master comedian.

Appreciated by many humor fans as the comedian who started a whole Colombian school in early 2010, Andrés López's transversal humor filled theaters, and amazed audiences with quick punches, various localism, while exploring the possibilities as an actor.

It was a milestone when Universal Music awarded him Diamond and Double Diamond awards for record sales with works such as La Pelota de las Letras, groundbreaking work in 2004.

Since then, he has exploited his talent by touring and sweeping with Me pido la ventana. In 2013 he gave the obligatory stop to the great comedians on the thorny subject of love in Llegar a Marte, performing more than seventy times live in Colombia. He has also been a host, the image of several brands, and a voice actor.

In fact, in recent weeks, Lopez has been in the spotlight for his association with the Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra for a miniseries on the history of music entitled El concierto de las emociones y los sentidos.

Andrés López is now 49 years old. Although he was born in Bogotá, he earned his degree in Experiential Education in Toronto, Canada, after studying Systems Engineering and Anthropology at the Universidad de Los Andes.

All this can be seen in the eclecticism with which he approaches humor.

Many of the monologues that so many Latinos keep in their homes are still fresh in the exploration of generational gaps, in the inquiry of romantic archetypes or commonplaces in family relationships, as well as an ability to captivate the public that marked his professionalism.

That's why Al Día News sat down with López to talk about some of the most personal and intimate aspects of the magic of stand-up.

 

What is comedy for you?

Comedy is making fun out of what is already boring. It is discovering the fundamental scams to which we are unknowingly exposed. Hence the laughter. As the trap is uncovered, there is a magnificent outburst of it.

Although, I must warn that the purpose of comedy is not to make people laugh. The aim is in that very thing: to manage the emotions, the happy ending, to create an interest in the object, to discover the trap. To capture attention, not in the comedian but all of it. The comedian invites an observation to the object not to be the recipient of all the attention. If he succeeds in being the flashlight that illuminates dark paths, then we admire him, and he is, therefore... literary.

Such terms as "punch-line," "gag," and so on owe their origin more to comedic librettists trying to put their products in different media than actually something that can be placed there as "comedy bits."

It's really "the line" that is sought after. The fundamental basis of comedy is "the line," and a "comedy line" could be defined as an element that the comedian can exploit in a thousand ways, almost like an alchemist who knows he has a whole process or formula that he can mold to his whim.

A joke is an indivisible basic line. To what extent can a line be so elementary? Well, there's the joke. An example of a line would be in my case to put a title like, "For my generation and my parents' generation, there was really no knowledge of English...." 

A whole series of line models start to emerge from there, and lines that are born from there, like the line "I would record English songs from a radio station to a cassette...". 

And all of that I can mold in a thousand ways, shapes, places, giving birth to more and more lines within my show La Pelota de Letras, a play made of comedy lines, that is to say, a comedy.

 

How do you manage current events during your tours or shows?

Current events are managed with "duty by observation." Just as I discovered what laughter is thanks to L. Ron Hubbard's definitions, I also discovered a lot with Viktor Papanek in his book Design for the Real World, a book for industrial designers.

I agree that the primary thing is observation (Hubbard), and you have to ask questions about the system you observe (Papanek). I have learned a lot from various strands of philosophy, engineering, theater.

My goal is not the line already said. I look for the line that has not yet existed. That's why I take my time and observe a lot. You have to have field journals, and as I learned from Hubbard: if it's not written, it doesn't exist. There is a discipline of observation and a discipline of writing.

Real "freedom of expression" depends on those two primary duties.

What role does race play in comedy? And language?

The comedian is an observer. From his perspective, he looks at his own hands and asks about his origins and relationship with others. He is an exploring anthropologist. The subjects do not escape him. The understanding of them may escape him, but let's say that depends on his tone.

If the comedian seeks a high tone of understanding, he will look for humanistic purposes to entertain future generations. Such is the case of Aristophanes or Roberto Gomez Bolanos. If his intention is low, the expiration awaits him behind never solving the mystery but to become part of the very noise that encloses it. The artist can make very destructive art with an almost suicidal simplicity. Still, some artists manage to make us see inside the cavern to find exit routes and solve many things of our humanity.

<<The comedian is an observer. From his perspective, he looks at his own hands and asks about his origins and relationship with others. He is an exploring anthropologist>>.
Should humor maintain any obligation to tolerance? And to political correctness?

As a comedian, one must know the ultimate purpose of what is said, as I have already said. If the objective is notoriety, fame, or money, the result will always be a promised expiration.

Notoriety breaks the rule of "making interest in the object." Fame forces one to work for fame in exchange for nothing. An artist works making art. Period!

If there is a "good name" for the product's quality, that is very different. There is a validation to the artist creator. Very different from fame. Hurting another with art is not the purpose.

How has fame been useful for you?

Popularity, fame.... Well, I am known, but I am known for what I did and what I showed. From that point, there is a distance.

There is a character on stage, but I consider myself a craftsman in a workshop. What I earn is already invested in the following projects that are very expensive in any artistic guild, and the general public tends more and more to cyber-destroy them in an open, communitarian, pornographic, and "super entertaining" way.

I don't consider myself famous. I am an artisan. I know that many know me, but my purpose is for many to know my work. I will continue with my life, giving the best of me for you. That is the task... As the people of Mandalore would say... this is the way.

<<Hurting another with art is not the purpose>>.
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