Music / Les Luthiers

An Argentinian comedy-musical group that's internationally popular in Spanish-speaking countries. In Argentina it's equivalent to Monty Python for its absurd humor and quotability. No relation to Superman's arch-nemesis.

The closest thing to this in the USA is P.D.Q. Bach.

In case you were wondering, their name is not Spanish; it's French.

Members:

  • Carlos López Puccio: Violin, keyboards, percussion, viola, cello, vocals, bass, etc.
  • Jorge Maronna: Guitar, cello, bass, double-bass, percussion, vocals, keyboards, etc.
  • Marcos Mundstock: Percussion, keyboards, trumpet, vocals, etc.
  • Carlos Núñez Cortés: Piano, keyboards, recorder, percussion, vocals, etc.

Former members:

  • Gerardo Masana (1967-1973): Bass-pipe, guitar, percussion, etc.
  • Ernesto Acher (1971-1986): Piano, gom-horn, clarinet, percussion, cello, trombone, recorder, etc.
  • Daniel Rabinovich (1967-2015): Guitar, violin, bass-pipe, drums, recorder, vocals, bass, keyboards, etc

That "etc" includes a wild range of "informal instruments" made by themselves, hence the name (a luthier is a maker of stringed instruments).

For those who don't speak Spanish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7syv95rwXE

For those who speak Spanish but haven't heard of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro3CTjCM6q0

The first sketch of them that I ever saw, is in Spanish but the second part is quite visual; it is the music of the trailer of a film called The Mysterious Murderer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuTYdXF6_vk

A silent sketch about a silent movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLW-oRP5M7U


This provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: More than half of they work are parodies of musical genres and tropes, specially classical music.
  • Alliterative Name: All the jazz songs. (Papa Garland had a hat and a jazz band and a mat and a black fat cat (Rag), Pepper Clemens sent the messenger: nevertheless the reverend left the herd (Ten Step), Miss Lilly Higgins sings shimmy in Mississippi's spring (Shimmy), Doctor Bob Gordon shops hot dogs from Boston (Foxtrot), Truthful Lulu pulls thru zulus (Blus))
  • Always Identical Twins: Johann Sebastian Mastropiero happened to have an identical twin called Harold, who lived in New York. Naturally Played for Laughs when, given the fact they are identical twins, Harold's wife...'s name was Margaret.
  • Anti-Love Song: Don't worry, someone more handsome will rape you just as one of the examples.
  • Appeal To Vanity: Wonderfully, wonderfully subverted in "Jingle Bass Pipe": "You, who are used to success as just one more habit of life... You, who succeed with the same ease in business and in the most exclusive sports... You, who are used to being respected by men and admired by women... You... can you tell us how you do it?".
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Usually subverted, as theirs are mostly actual texts in French, German, Italian, etc. However, there's a straight example from 1971: during a tea ceremony ('Los noticiarios cinematográficos'), the 'alto ambassador' (named Yoko-Hito, who knows why?) sings the following 'Japanese' lyrics: 'Sokiaki, Ho Chi Min, Yoko Ono, Mao Tsé Tsung, Tintenkuli, Chinchulín, Guanban, Chop Suey!'. When they recorded it two years later, they changed it by 'Ikebana, chow en lai, harakiri, tobogán, camiseta, chimpancé, panzón; Mata Hari, salpicón, Honolulu, Tucumán, Walky Talkie, chimpancé, ping pong. Neuquén; Champiñón'.
  • Banana Republic: La República de Banania (well, duh) and Feudalia.
  • Bilingual Backfire: The Nuits De Paris routine. Whereas the whole group tries to comunicate with a famous French singer...'s brother-in-law in French and happens to be that he could speak Spanish all along.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Some of the background songs that are on another languages are actual songs in English, German, Italian, etc.
    • Not to mention a language Marcos Mundstock invented himself: 'Gulevache'.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Diego Dalvés (Carlos López Puccio) won several Mastropiero Awards (including one his work wasn't even nominated in) thanks to his father buying Channel 4 (where the ceremony was transmitted in) and owning Dalvés Multimedia (which sponsored the ceremony).
  • Canis Latinicus: 'Gloria', an attempt by Johann Sebastian Mastropiero to improvise a religious-like song out of a tango, is modified by replacing words with similar words that sound like Latin. The result is hilarious - because the tango is about meeting a woman, going on a date with her and having sex with her several times that night.
  • The Coconut Effect: Parodied on The Mysterious Murderer routine where they make the foley of the film trailer.
  • Completely Missing the Point: Many of their sketches are like that.
    Marcos Mundstock: The dance muse is Terpsícore.
    Daniel Rabinovich: Who?
    Marcos: Doctor, don't you tell me you don't know who Terpsícore is ...
    Daniel: Not by name, maybe if I see her... Esther Píscore, who is she? No, I don't know who she is. No, no, I'd remember her, I have a good memory for that kind of... Esther Píscore, how is she? Is she nice? Well, I don't care for... Is she hot? I say... Esther Píscore. With a name like that, she surely is well known, right? Esther Píscore, ha ha, Esther Píscore is here.
    • And it gets worse.
  • Continuity Nod: Mastropiero, the jazz pieces with only one vowel, a Huesito Williams melody reappearing for fellow singer-songwriter Manuel Darío, Laxatón (the product, not the Cantata) referenced several years later in 1971, the glamocot being used for 'lust' scenes after its original role as 'Oso libidinoso' (e.g. 'Wildstone' [a college couple going to the bedroom] and 'Princesa Caprichosa').
    • Mundstock seems to be fond of Poland and Norway: the 1972 piece Si No Fuera Santiagueño mentions the fictional Polish naturalist Vladislav Atamiski; then there's Añoralgias in 1981, which was discovered by Norwegian researcher Sven Kundsen; the black pianist on Tom Mc Coffee (1989) thought she was of Polish ancestry; the conflict resolution on San Ictícola stems from their realisation of Norwegian tourists visiting the place; last but not least, the corrupt politicians in La Comisión decide to make Norway the country's enemy in order to reinforce the country's patriotism and have someone to blame for problems, while at the same time keeping a close relationship with Spain and the USA.
    • Antenor is the name of the robot who wants to play with López Puccio throughout the 1978-1979 recital Muchas Gracias de Nada. In 1985, Antenor Vitupterio is one of the characters of the Epopeya de los Quince Jinetes.
    • The 1983 piece Entreteniciencia Familiar has a chamber ensemble replacing the fictional tropical quartet Los Brillantes, who hadn't been able to show up because they'd been drinking. Los Brillantes do show up many years later (2008) on Lutherapia to perform Dilema de Amor.
    • Warren Sánchez is still in Miami, as of the group's last performance (to date) of his namesake piece. If he decides to stay at the Normandie Hotel, he may run into Huesito Williams.
    • Sometimes, the final play in a show includes nods to the previous plays in said show. For example, in Fronteras de la Ciencia (In Todo por que rías), Manuel Darío (From Manuel Darío), San Ictícola's priest (From San Ictícola de los Peces) and Sali Baba (From Así hablaba Sali Baba) reappear and give their opinion about aliens, and Esther Píscore (From the introduction of El negro quiere bailar) is mentioned at the beginning.
  • Culture Police: Hinted on the Bananian Act routine. Since the most popular children's tales on Banania is "Once upon a time they lived happily ever after".
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Usually either Rabinovich, Mundstock or both.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In "La redención del vampiro", as the vampire's status as The Dreaded is discussed.
    Rabinovich: The villagers told me the vampire has been living here for hundreds of years... furthermore, one told me he's been living here for centuries.
  • Derailed for Details: in "La gallina dijo Eureka", Ernesto Acher interrupts Daniel Rabinovich's song to ask increasingly inane questions about it.
  • The Ditz: It's usually Daniel Rabinovich but sometimes this is also the role of Carlos López Puccio.
  • Dreadful Musician: Not just Mastropiero, but the vast majority of the fictional musicians their plays are themed on.
  • Either World Domination or Something about Bananas: The last part of the Radio Tertulia routine where the Argentine interviewers try to understand the British band London Inspection. (And they fail miserably.)
  • Ensemble Cast: While Mundstock and Rabinovich do act more often than the others, they're all in the foreground at some point and they all contribute vastly to at least one creative area: Maronna and López Puccio write scripts, lyrics and music; Marcos Mundstock conceptualises and writes scripts, as well as introductory texts for each piece; Carlos Núñez composes music and builds instruments; Daniel Rabinovich is a versatile improviser, actor and musician whose roles include both comic and serious performances and instruments from several families (e.g., violin, recorder, trombone, drums, keyboards), which is essential for the group.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Subverted with one of the owners of Thompson & Company, the late Mr. Henry Company (on the Quartet for Quintet).
  • Everything Is an Instrument: That's what the group is about... well, partly.
  • Far East: The Half-Eastern Sonata.
  • Fictional Document: Too many to count.
  • Flanderization:
    • Daniel Rabinovich in particular.
    • In Mastropiero que nunca, Mastropiero was a compositor with plenty of anecdotes a small quantity of them were Take Thats to him. Fastforward to Lutherapia and the whole show is about making fun of Mastropiero's many flaws, including plagiarizing the auto-biography from another compositor.
  • Foreshadowing: Common in their early shows - a member went in 'too soon' and played excerpts from a piece (usually the last or second last in the set) before being cut off by his mates. By the time they did play the piece in question, the audience was already familiar with it (which worked very well).
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Commision for Perpetual Mantainance and Updating of the Song "Fatherland" (the national anthem). The fun part? they bother to pronounce CPMUOTSF with varying results (mostly wet).
  • Groin Attack: Many times, usually self-inflicted. Kathy, La Reina del Saloon being the most hilarious and famous example.
    • Another example: in Radio Tertulia, they speak about a soap opera where one of the twists is that a woman is revealed to have been a man. When one of the presenters asks the other about how that happened, he says "A viper".
  • Grumpy Old Man: Subverted in Los jóvenes de hoy en día. Two elderly singers (Jorge Maronna and Carlos López Puccio) complain that the young people of today are too irresponsible and prone to taking drugs and making love, but as the song goes on, it's obvious that they are actually jealous at how their success at love.
    Singers (Maronna and López Puccio): The young people of today don't distinguish evil from good; there's no law, there's no right... there's no right for them to have it so good!
  • Happily Married: In real life, five of the members (past and present) have undergone (sometimes messy) divorces and re-married. Founder Gerardo Masana and Daniel Rabinovich were married, literally, until death did them part with their wives.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Complaining about today's young people: 'they've got no ideology - because they do drugs; they only care about the bike and the car - because they do drugs; they dance all day long - because they do drugs; and they make love all night long - which drug do they do?'.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Too many to count.
  • Inherently Funny Word: "Achicoria" (chicory) at the end of the Cantata del Adelantado Don Rodrigo Díaz de Carreras.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: in Pepper Clemens sent the messenger, nevertheless the reverend left the herd, during the initial explanation, Jorge Maronna is surprised when Marcos Mundstock reveals his part in the chorus was erased, and as he leaves Daniel Rabinovich laughs harder than the others. Marcos Mundstock soon reveals that Daniel's part was eliminated next.
  • Layman's Terms: ... or Expo Speak Gag, depending on how you look at it: Yoghurtu Nghé is an African young man who's telling his (also African) uncle about life in the USA. He explains he got a job 'in something breathtaking, which I'll try to explain to you: two long iron tapes are laid and on top of them a gigantic caterpillar slides; it drags wheeled cabins which carry people inside of them. It's fantastic!'. His uncle replies: 'I'm really impressed about that caterpillar with cabins you tell me about. Never in my life had I ever heard of something that so accurately resembled a train!'
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Marcos Mundstock does it relatively often, acknowledging the audience's laughter or the occasional technical failures, as the shows are performed live.
    • For instance, on one sketch he acted as therapist and there were some noises from the mics, he incorporated them to his counselling ("I know you feel disturbed, as if there were strange noises in the background"), receiving a well-deserved ovation from the public.
    • "Dear Nephew: I didn't write to you until now because the audience was applauding."
  • Limited Wardrobe: The only thing they wear on they shows are tuxedos, as any classical musician will do in a concert.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: Anything related to the convoluted life of Johann Sebastian Mastropiero. It's unknown when he died, or even if he actually died.
  • Long Runners: Celebrated their 40 anniversary in 2007.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: In Lutherapia, It turns out Ramirez was Mastropiero's son (and brother to the Anti-Christ) and that was the reason of his stress .
  • Lyrical Dissonance
  • Meaningful Title: Played for Laughs with the Adelantado Don Rodrigo Díaz de Carreras, who is said to have arrived to South America a year before Columbus finds the continent - Adelantado can mean arriving before one should.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: on Himnovaciones and Acto en Banania.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: General Eutanasio Rodriguez and Escipion the Blood-Thirsty Killer.
  • No Longer with Us: "Huesito Williams has left us... it's hard to believe his seat remains empty. But he's in a better place. He lives... in Normandy Hotel, Miami."
  • Overly Long Name: many songs' names.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: The evil sorcerer in "Valdemar y el Hechicero".
  • The Power of Rock: Played for Laughs in "El Séptimo Regimiento". General Weaving has his division's infantry band sneak into the enemy's lines and play their motivational music to drive them away. After all, if their music does not scare them, then they are deaf.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Parodied several times. On the Song of the 7th Platoon, General Archibald Weaving declares: "If we don't win, the war is lost" and "The eagle's feather won't be an oil drop". That same afternoon, he is taken to a mental institution.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: What happens whenever Rabinovich tries to perform the opening monologue.
  • Running Gag: many times, the humor comes from this.
  • Ruritania: Gulevandia. Set of the opera on fictional language Cardoso en Gulevandia.
  • Save the Princess: In "Valdemar y el Hechicero", Prince Valdemar (Carlos López Puccio) travels to the sorcerer (Daniel Rabinovich)'s castle to rescue Princess Geneva with Merlin (Marcos Mundstock)'s magic. It quickly turns into Pity the Kidnapper, as the sorcerer finds out Princess Geneva is a full-blown Jerkass, and after the sorcerer pleads for freedom, Valdemar decides to use Merlin's magic to rescue him.
  • Secret Relationship: Mastropiero with many women.
  • Self-Deprecation: In a way... the sketches are usually introduced as being horrendous and their fictional composer (usually Mastropiero) as mediocre, at best.
  • Sitting Sexy on a Piano: In one of the backstories, a girl called Hanriette does this while Mastropiero plays the piano and her mother watches.
    Marcos Mundstock: Hanriette, luckily for her, was deaf. And the mother, luckily for Mastropiero, was blind.
  • Small Reference Pools: Too many to count, specially on their earlier era.
  • Soap Within a Show: The soap opera Alma de Corazón is the topic of several conversations in Radio Tertulia. At least, until the third part, in which Ramírez (Daniel Rabinovich) reads a letter sent by one of the characters of Alma de Corazón, Mrs. Izaguirre Belmont, and then one of the radio show's journalists (Carlos López Puccio, covering a case about a corrupt politician -Jorge Maronna-) informs the presenters that the politician's girlfriend (Yvonne, another character from the soap opera) was unable to accuse him for his crimes because she was bitten by a viper.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Johann Sebastian Mastropiero. Who sometimes was called Wolfgang Amadeus Mastropiero and Petrov Ilich Mastropiero.
  • Strawman U: The Wildstone University routine. A commercial of a college on the United States so lame that party and fun isn't less important than study (they are more important); and the alumni are described as "stupid, idiot and criminal students" by the dean (though the supposed Spanish dubbing calls them crafty and mischievous students instead).
  • Subverted Kids Show:
    • Theresa & The Bear, a subverted children's song on the same vein that Peter and the Wolf.
    • Also, in Mastropiero Awards, the adult children music comedy Valdemar and the sorcerer.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion
  • Sue Donym: Mastropiero with Johann Severo Mastropiano. Getting his father this letter "My child, if you use that pseudonym everyone will know that I am not just the father of a composer, but also the father of an imbecile".
  • This Is My Name on Foreign: All the illegitimate children of composer Johann Sebastian Mastropiero with the contessa Shortshot were translations of Shortshot in different languages: Patrick McKleinschuss, Giovanni Colpocorto, Rafael Brevetiro, Mario Abraham Kortzclap, Anatole Tirecourt, Johnny Littlebang.
  • The Voiceless: López Puccio on "¿Quién mató a Tom Mc Coffee?". Except for "vaya vaya" (which can either mean "go away" or "wow" depending on the tone).
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The Mysterious Murderer routine.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Kids these days, they only need chatter to reach Erasmus
  • With Friends Like These...: at the end of "Daniel y el Señor", Daniel is going to Heaven with God, and they have this conversation.
    Daniel (Rabinovich): Back [when I was a kid], I believed you and the Devil existed.
    God (Mundstock): Of course! Don't you believe anymore?
    Daniel (Rabinovich): Now I believe you are enough for both.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: In this case Spanish, played both straight and subverted.