Looking for the comedy… to live better
Jorge G. Palomo
“If I get on the Metro today and smile at a woman, instead of returning the smile and thinking ‘what a nice young man’ she will probably look away, put a hand on her purse and grab the pepper spray just in case I get too close.” That’s humorist Beni Pla speaking to Fresh People Mag, and we’re talking about why it’s essential to have a sense of humour. “We live with continual stress, where work –if you have it– politics or some televised news ruin your day and make you feel like slitting your throat. If we couldn’t look at all these things from a distance, breathe deeply and laugh at them over a beer, life would be unbearable.”
Along with Carolina Noriega, Raúl Massana and Charlie Under, Pla has summed all this up in a documentary titled Buscando la comedia (Looking for Comedy), where important Spanish artists describe the road by which they were able to work in show business, and why the fact of being comedians has often helped them in their daily life. “Without any doubt the best thing about being a comic is that you don’t have to get up early,” jokes Carolina Noriega, who says she’s overwhelmed by the love of comedy expressed by the artists who were interviewed and by others who couldn’t be included. “Thanks to humour, I’ve found honesty. I know how to tell myself certain things that I didn’t dare to before, and this is because I began to say them on a stage,” says Charlie Under. “It’s impossible to live without a sense of humour because reality is too hard.” And he’s not just talking about humorists: “I don’t think anyone is capable of accepting reality just as it is,” he says. And comedy provides cushions to avoid the sharp edges that bang against you, until the blow is too strong and the whole weight of reality falls on you. Comedy is the way human beings reduce the importance of something they can’t control”. A real declaration of principles.
Health, amusement, creativity
Good humour is good for everything. “The time they canned you from your job or you broke a leg or you got divorced doesn’t really matter. When you’re able to think about that time, try to smile and make a joke with a friend about something that, at the time, seemed like a tragedy, then you’re cured.” That’s Beni Pla’s recipe, one that reinforces the classic axiom that defines humour as “tragedy plus time.” And comedy is certainly the cheapest form of therapy. But be careful: we must care for it and fulfil a daily prescription: laugh, smile, open your mind, put things in perspective, crack up laughing, be ironic and, in a word, “always look on the bright side of life,” like Monty Python. Exactly: for people working in this field, money is also important, as Dani Mateo points out with sarcasm: “The best thing comedy has given me is money. Now that I’m older and I see how hard people work compared to what we do, I think it makes sense.” (Laughter) Without any doubt humour makes it possible to break the mould and explore difficult territory through the gift of hilarity. But don’t let your guard down: “You have the power to take the public wherever you want. You control everything… except for the way the public reacts,” says Silvia Abril in Buscando la comedia. And Josema Yuste adds: “I’ve always had great respect for the person who gets on a stage to make other people laugh.” Because yes, it is hard. A real art.
Humour as a way of life… Is that the way you see it?
“It’s a real gift to be able to go to a place and, through laughter, cheer someone up who’s had a bad day,” these comedians say. “I always say comedy is the good management of madness. I’ve capitalised on madness,” jokes Agustín Jiménez. “Comedy is a way of life that changes your perspective and makes you live better. It allows you to risk more,” says Virginia Riezu. “The requirement is to have a wide range so as to be able to connect with all kinds of audiences, the greatest number of registers possible,” claims Goyo Jiménez. “Culture is never superfluous.” And humour, comedy… is culture. It means broadening your horizons. It is health. It’s a vocation but also absolute devotion. That’s what we see on the screen from professionals like Sara Escudero, Gustavo Biosca, Luis Álvaro, Berto Romero, David Guapo… More than 50 opinions that reveal a passion for this trade. A trade that consists of making humour. Of making humour until reaching sarcasm, it’s usually said.
And while you don’t practise the trade, do you apply it in your daily life? What’s it like trying to look at things from a different angle? “It’s universally advised that you take very seriously what you do and fight for it. If you do comedy, fight against the dull people who want to discourage you,” says Buenafuente in this interesting documentary. And that’s true. There are a lot of dull people in the world, but there will always be laughter at the end of the tunnel…
And what if we all look for the comedy?