Photos by the Author
His debut in the comedy world took place in the early 1980s, while he was a student of Philology at the Universidad Central de Las Villas. After graduating and serving (among other things) as literary adviser in the city of Santa Clara, he was among the founders of the fondly remembered La Leña del Humor group, led by Pible which enrolled prominent exponents of the genre in the central region.
However, Espinosa Baudilio Huet (Bao) was a humorist long before that. Maybe since he was in high school, when he used to ask for his album in the “May 20th” ironmongery from his native Sagua la Grande. His comrades enjoyed a great deal while the employee on duty rummaged in catalogs without ever finding the demanded phonogram. Baudilio, unable to play a single note of music, has always possessed a special sense of humor and an undeniable talent to create the appropriate joke in milliseconds.
One day, as a good citizen of provinces, he gathered his meager possessions and headed to the capital to become, in short, one of the main writers of “Jura Decir la Verdad?” (Do you swear to tell the truth?), the TV prime hour comedy with Ulises Toirac. In that scenario Baudilio embodied the professor Pepe Grillo (referring to the talking Cricket of Pinocchio), one of its best suited characters.
As conductor and playwriter he joined the team of Gustavo Fernandez-Larrea to El Selecto Club de la Neurona Intranquila show, when it was just a package of thirteen programs for Canal Habana. Five years later, with national reach, La Neurona has become one of the TV programs with the highest ratings, from a combination of mental agility, humor and intelligence never before seen on Cuban television.
– What makes Cubans laugh? Do you share the view that they possess a highly developed sense of humor that makes them laugh even at their own calamities?
Cubans laugh at the same our counterparts in any part of the planet do. At the end of the day we are all human and the springs, both of the tears and laughter are universal. It is amyth that our humorous sensibility is so developed that allows us to laugh at our calamities. Everywhere the pompous and hiper earnest people are made fun of; absurd measures are the target of mockery and disobedience, fools of humiliation.
"What happens is that our people uses mockery as a weapon, often the only one available. So it was in the Republic, in the colony, and I’m sure also in the conquest, but the natives did not leave a record of their sense of humor. Today the comedian has had to assume part of the paper (for various reasons limited) of the journalist and the public looks on stage for criticism or reflection of a reality that is not in the press, for catharsis or awareness of a problem.
– What audience do you consider the most difficult to make laugh? Personally, what public sector that you feel most comfortable with?
-For me the ideal audience is what you get in a university theater. A prepared, alert, not flawed public that appreciates the subtlety and ingenuity in the jokes. It is not about making cultivated or snob humor, is that with them you can try to go through new paths, experiment and test associations to enrich your arsenal as a humorist, while providing them with tools to look at life through the prism of subversive humor. I like the theater in general. The theater is the perfect place, because the Cuban family can attend, since the tickets are cheap.
– What humor prevails at nightclubs and other venues that routinely have comedians?
-There is a clear difference between the characteristics of the theater and nightclub: on stage no economic interest rules over the artistic one, in most nightclubs the opposite happens. In the theater a specialized board must approve the shows, in most of the nightclubs that is done by an artistically unprepared manager and he usually imposes his taste. Hence, it is easier to sneak a bad product in the nightclub than in the theater. In addition to the fact that the people that go to cabarets are there not only to see the show but for drinks, dancing, love, talk and even do business. Moreover, the high price of entry limits attendance of students and professionals.
"Perhaps that is the origin of a kind of demonization of humorous shows presented at nightclubs, of the attending public and comedians who work there. It is said that profanity and rudeness abound, and that some actors offend the public. However, things are not just black and white. Perhaps the joke should be more direct, but who is rude is just taking the easy way. I’m not linking rudeness with profanity, swear words are part of the language and when used for expressive purposes are valid in both drama and comedy as at nightclubs. They can be used without being rude and, instead, you can be very rude without swearing.
"Regarding the issue of offending the public things are clear. I’ve seen comedians interact with the audience in a nightclub, mocking an individual by the number of chains around his neck and the individual feel flattered. Can it be considered an offense? I respect many comedians that work in nightclubs: they know how to work their audiences, give what they want and do it with dignity. "
– Are the comedy shows on television at the level demanded by Cuban viewers?
-Television is the media that most Cubans go to in search of humor. No admission charge, no need to spend on nice clothes or transportation. So it has a huge and diverse audience. Where we make the mistake is in wanting to indulge every person. The key lies in the variety. Different forms and formats addressing the humor. Too many programs resemble each other or others of the past (even the recent past). Too many jokes are repeated. Too many characters, sets and costumes are similar. If a program displays a nice old man, then they put oldies in all. If a program has been successful it does not mean you have to repeat and even copy that formula.
"As if it were not enough, there is a frightening lack of writers. It’s a low-paying job that makes it impossible to work in teams of writers and, therefore, no brainstorming that enrich the texts. Not matter how much actors can contribute with they will never be a team of professionals in charge of writing.
"Many of these things are not the responsibility of the creative teams, it is clear that they lack resources. Our television forms and educates, and that’s fine. But on the economic side it is a black hole that swallows millions without returning anything. Why not invest in it and create mechanisms so it can sustain itself? There is talent there. Our comedy programs could become an exportable good and become the benchmark for other regions. Let’s our humor be varied Make and known throughout the world may knock down the myth that only Cubans laugh at our own misfortunes … The topic that started our conversation, remember? ".