Note: If you're not from Latin America, you need to read up on this guy. He's like the one-man Mexican Monty Python.
Eugenio Derbez is a Mexican comedian who wrote, produced, and starred in a number of popular sketch comedies
from the late eighties
through the early two-thousands.
More recently, he's been the producer of two sitcoms,
but only the star of one. He practices a style of comedy that walks an exceedingly thin line, with sophisticated and occasionally literary humor on one side, and crass immaturity and scatology on the other.
Additionally, he has an infatuation with puns
that rivals that of Jasper Fforde
; the names of many of his characters, sketches, and the titles of his shows very often make use of some sort of phonetic wordplay. For example, his sketch show Derbez en cuando
is a pun on the Spanish phrase "de vez en cuando," or "every once in a while" for English-speakers.
On 2013, he made a successful directorial debut with the film No Se Aceptan Devoluciones
(known as "Instructions Not Included" outside of Mexico).
Notable series:(Cultural tidbit: titles are not capitalized in the Spanish language)
- Derbez en cuando, Al derecho y al Derbez, XHDRBZ' - His three sketch programs, and Derbez's most recognized works. The first two are almost interchangeable and follow a simple formula: a miscellaneous topic is chosen at the start of each episode and Derbez in character as one of his several bizarre alter egos (usually four or five per episode, each appearing for about as many minutes) would act out sketches relating to that topic. The third one is the black sheep of the litter, as it's all about spoofing a popular TV show. For instance, his X-Files parody changed the title from Los expedientes secretos X (The Secret X-Files) to Los ex-pendientes secretos X (The No-Longer-Relevant Secret X's).
- La familia P. Luche - One of his most long-running series, La familia P. Luche explores the life of one of Derbez's recurring characters, Ludovico P. Luche, who had previously appeared only in the sketches from the aforementioned shows. Since this one is an expansion on a series of short sketches, plenty new material was added by necessity; bit players became fairly major characters with names and well-defined personalities and several completely new characters were added. Another noticeable change is that several characters became rude and vindictive whereas previously they had merely been inept and kinda stupid; whether this makes the series as funny as the original sketches, funnier, or not as funny varies wildly depending on who you ask.
- Vecinos - Derbez's most recent endeavor, and the only one wherein he himself does not perform. Notable for being much more family-friendly than his other shows, all of which rely heavily on adult humor, Vecinos deals with the doings of a group of hapless people who all live together in the same high-rise. It's about as routine as sitcoms get, the humor stemming from the various ways the characters' personalities bounce off each other. Among the cast, there's the ignorant but well-meaning superintendent who insists on being called a "custodian" (as opposed to a "doorman") and used to be a luchador, a responsible office worker and his good-for-nothing slacker roomie, and a female veterinarian whose father is a retired army general who takes his teddy bear (named Rambo) with him wherever he goes.
Some notable characters:
- El Lonje Moco - A clear fan favorite, along with Professor Armando Hoyos. El Lonje Moco (his name is an untranslatable pun involving mucus, stemming from the phrase "el monje loco", or "the mad monk") is a grotesquely deformed and hunchbacked monk who lives in some sort of dreary, old cellar. In every sketch, he attempts to tell the audience a scary story (much like the Crypt Keeper from Tales from the Crypt) but is continually sidetracked either by external distractions, because he forgets the next part of the story or starts talking about his family. A living gargoyle, a man in a painting, and even "the audience" often try to help him remember, but in the end El Lonje Moco never gets to tell the end of the story, and ends cutting it short. Known for his popular catchphrase, "¡Fue horrible!" ("It was horrible!")
- Prof. Armando Hoyos - If El Lonje Moco is Derbez's most popular character, then Armando Hoyos is his most famous (Derbez has even authored a couple of comedy books in character as the professor). He's a well-dressed, perfectly-groomed intellectual who wears turtlenecks and enormous, goofy glasses; in every sketch, he tries to explain a nonsensical scientific or literary concept to a confused student or interviewer, who can only become more and more confused as the sketch progresses. This is Derbez's go-to character if he really wants to get creative with his puns, as seen in the many sketches wherein Armando Hoyos reads out spoof definitions from the dictionary. When the interviewer says something (usually praising), he will often interrupt him with his Catchphrase "Cállese, no me interrumpa." ("SHUT UP, don't interrupt me.")
- Ludovico P. Luche - A family man who, as his name suggests, dresses entirely in outrageously-colored plush (peluche), as does his entire family. Each sketch gives him and his family an incredibly simple problem to solve (such as setting up the dinner table to entertain some guests) which, through their ignorance, ineptitude and tendency to start fighting about anything, inevitably snowballs into a catastrophe. This is the character Derbez chose to base an entire series around, perhaps because his world is such a broad canvas, but, as previously stated, whether or not this was a good idea depends on the audience.
- Hans Pujenheimer - A short-lived, but memorable character from XHDRBZ, Hans is a central European man (complete with feather cap and laderhosen) who has recently moved to Mexico and is perpetually enraged by his inability to grasp Mexican cultural nuances, particularly pertaining to local mannerisms and slang. In most of his sketches, he attempts to watch a famous Mexican TV show and gradually becomes angrier and angrier, occasionally pausing the show to complain about the differences between Romance and Germanic languages and the bizarre nature of Mexican turns-of-phrase as a whole. In the end, Hans flies into a rage, turns to the screen, and furiously shouts his catchphrase, "¡Que alguien me explique!" ("Someone explain this to me!")
- Marilyn Mensón - An obvious parody of Marilyn Manson, one of his more one-note characters (insofar as any one of his characters can be more one-note than any other), Marilyn is a perpetually stoned punk rocker who, within series continuity, is dreaded by parents for the objectionable music he presents to the youth. His sketches involve a camera crew attempting to interview him, either out on the street or in a studio set. Marilyn always answers the first question properly but then continues to give the exact same answer for all subsequent questions, sending the camera crew into a haze as they attempt to piece together the "interview" into some kind of coherent whole. Another character who's funny because he confuses the hell out of everyone around him, the difference here being that everyone around him confuses Marilyn just as much. He's also known for making parodies of famous songs, like making the song "Ingrata" (about a cheating woman) into "Ingratos" (about the Mexican Soccer team losing in the world cup).
- El Super Portero - El Super Portero is a soccer goalie-themed superhero whose job it is to make sure TV personalities don't accidentally say the name of a registered trademark on the air, forcing their producers to pay royalties. Since many Latin American trademarks are simply named after a specific word or phrase, El Super Portero interrupts any given broadcast more often than you think. Invariably, the character leaves the studio after having declared the broadcast a rousing success, even though whatever was originally being said has now been bowdlerized into an utter, incomprehensible mess.
- Diablito - A young devil who takes any time his dad is out to "Play with Earth". The sketches involve Diablito watching home videos and pressing a Big Red Button to cause the disasters in them. Known for his high-pitched laugh after watching the disasters he causes.
- Aaron Abasolo - A street man who loves to speak in double entendres. Known for his phrase "¡Pregúntame cá, preguuuntame!"
- Alz and Heimer - An elderly couple who, as their name suggests, are very forgetful. They start talking about a subject but because of their short memory they get sidetracked. The sketch ends with Alz saying "Ay Heimer, a tí ya se te va el avión" (Your plane is leaving, a Mexican phrase meaning to forget) and Heimer leaving the room as fast as he can thinking he's missing a literal plane.
- Eloy Gameno - Catchphrase: "¡Oígame No!" ("Unacceptable!" not literal). And his name is a pun on his own catchprhase "El oigame no" ("The unacceptable guy"). He starts at any situation where he has to meet someone and begin to talk. But he takes any phrase and idiom as a misunderstanding, Double Entendre, or exactly as he say it. This ends with the bystander exasperated and choking Eloy. So he begins to argue and complain of the fact while the one who choked him tries to apologize for his outburst (sometimes the complaining starts getting annoying, though, and he gets choked again).
- Chef Pepe Roni: A parody of the Cooking shows and Italians chefs. His sketches are about him preparing one of his "famous recents", can be alone or with a interviewer (always a woman). All the ingredients end being visual puns of real ingredients. After each ingredient he will Shout "LIIISTOOO" ("DOOOONE"), or "Está quedando delicioso, hmmmm" ("It is getting delicious, hmmmm").
Frequently used tropes: