Not impressed? FINE.
Good thing we’ve got SpanishProv up for this week’s Troupe Talk. They are that group that improvs full shows in Spanish at the Dallas Comedy House. What’s even cooler? They are Troupe Talk’s first EVER bilingual interview. De. Nada. READERS. De Nada.
Everyone, please teach me a phrase in Spanish. Cesar: "Sin cebolla ni cilantro." No Onions, no cilantro. Colten: "Mande?" Which means like what? Amanda: "Maldita sea!" Which means "damn it." Jon: “Estoy embarazada” doesn’t mean what you think it means. It means you’re pregnant. Sophia: "Pura vida" - it's like the catchphrase of Costa Rica. It translates into "Pure life," but they use it as a response to "What's up?" It's a reminder to not take things too seriously and to appreciate the simple things. I think it's a beautiful idea. Sam: “Ya para,” which means OK, stop. Katie: "Tu tienes cangrejos." That means you have crabs. Sal: "No manches," which is like one of my favorite things to say, and it means no way or get out of here. Isabel: "No me gusta el chile." I don’t like spicy foods. Amanda: I thought you meant the country. Isabel: Secondarily, it’s also important that everyone knows that Chile, the country, is the worst. Sophia: For the record…Chile the country is awesome. It's just not as awesome as Argentina.
Thank you. I can now say the phrase “No onions, no cilantro. NO way. I DON’T LIKE SPICY FOODS. Like what? Damn it, I’m pregnant -- PURE LIFE. And I have crabs. OK stop. GET OUT OF HERE.”
...perfect! I think I’m all set to have a legit Spanish convo. Thanks gang!
So speaking of speaking Spanish -- what motivated/inspired you guys to create an improv show performed entirely in the Spanish language? Cesar: Mi mama estaba visitando de California y la traje al Dallas Comedy House a ver un show. Ella habla inglés pero su primera idioma es español. No estaba seguro si ella lo iba entender o si le iba a gustar pero quería que viera de lo hablaba cuando hablamos por telefono. Resultó que se divirtió mucho porque era en vivo y medio entendió lo que estaba pasando por la actuación de los actores y los acciones físicos la hicieron reír mucho.
Me puse a pensar que si alguien que no entiendo el humor en inglés mucho le gusto improvisación, porque no le gustaria a un audiencia que probablemente no habla mucho español ver un acto completamente en español. Invité a algunos para tratarlo en el Block Party y fue un gran éxito. En verdad, pensé que lo iba hacer solamente esa vez pero fue tan divertido que decidimos continuarlo y practicar juntos.
My mom was visiting from California, and I brought her to the Dallas Comedy House to watch a Dairy Based show. She speaks English but her first language is Spanish. I wasn’t sure if it would translate or if she would really like it but I wanted to show her what I kept on talking about when we talked on the phone. Turns out she really enjoyed herself because it was live performance and she kind of understood what was happening based on the acting and she really enjoyed the big physical comedy.
I started thinking that if someone who doesn’t understand English humor much like an improv show, why wouldn’t an audience that probably doesn’t understand a lot of Spanish enjoy a show that was in Spanish? I invited some friends to try it out at a Block Party, and it was a big hit. Truthfully, I thought it was going to be a one-time thing but it was so fun we decided to continue it and start practicing. Colten: Cesar me pregunto y quería trabajar en mi español y me gustan todas las personas en el grupo. Cesar asked me, and I wanted to work on my Spanish plus I like everyone in the group. Todos: Awwwww. Amanda: Tambien, Cesar me pregunto y me gusta Cesar. Similarly, Cesar asked me and I like Cesar. Todos: OOOOOOooooooohh. Amanda: Ahh, oh, Como se dice wink? Mi familia es de Repubilca Dominicana y queria practicar mi español y que mejor manera de hacerlo? Oh, oh oh! How do you say "wink?" My family is from the Dominican Republic, and I wanted to practice my Spanish so what a better way to do it? Jon: Una vez en clase, en nivel tres, una compañera me hablo en español y ella no sabia que yo entendia Español y que lo podia hablar. Le respondi y la clase se reó mucho y era muy divertido. Mi madre es de Colombia y le gusta mucho que estoy usando mi español. One time in class during Level 3, one of my classmates started talking to me in Spanish without realizing I understood and spoke Spanish. I responded to her, and the entire class laughed a lot and that was very fun. My mom is from Colombia, and she enjoys that I’m using my Spanish. Sam: Estaba muy interesado porque se oyo muy divertido. Me gusta mucho la comedia mexicana y queriea ser parte de esto. I was very interested, because it sounded very fun. I like Mexican comedy a lot, and I wanted to be a part of this. Katie: Cesar habló conmigo y yo necesito practicar mi español y quiero trabajar con gente muy divertidos. Cesar talked to me, and I need to practice my Spanish and I want to work with fun people. Sal: Mi papá le gusta mucho verme hacer improvisación cómica. Cuando le dije que íbamos hacer un show en español se emocionó mucho porque ya por fin va poder ver un show y saber todo lo que decimos. Fue una experiencia muy padre haber poder decirle eso para poder satisfacer a mi papá y para que realmente entienda y se sienta como en casa. My dad enjoys watching me perform improv comedy. When I told him that we were going to do a show in Spanish, he became very excited because he’ll finally be able to watch a show and know everything that we’re saying. It was a very cool experience to share that news with him and be able to give him this experience, when he’ll really understand and feel at home here. Isabel: Me invitó Cesar y se me hizo una idea muy divertida y pensé que iba ser algo que me iba ayudar con mi spacework y me iba ayudar ser una mejor improvisadora en inglés. Cesar invited me, and it sounded like a very fun idea and I thought it would be something that would help me with my space work and it would help me in improv overall.
So along those lines, how is improvising in Spanish different than improvising in English? Cesar: En español no puedes ser chistoso con lo que dices. Es mas facil usar menos palabras para hacer la audiencia que se riera. Tienes que usar tu movimiento, las relaciones, y el contacto con los otros actores para expresar lo que quieres decir o lo que vea la audiencia. In Spanish, you can’t rely on being funny with what you say. It’s a lot easier to use less words to make the audience laugh. You have to use physicality, relationships (including status), and the connection with the other players to express what you want the audience to experience. Colten: Estoy de acuerdo con Cesar. No conozco muchas palabras en español y no tengo palabras específicas para usar y por eso es más difícil. I agree with Cesar. I don’t know a lot of words in Spanish, and I can’t use specific details and that’s why it’s more difficult. Amanda: Estoy de acuerdo con Colten. No tengo vocabulario muy grande en español todo es muy básico y real. No puedo usar la fantasía y magia. Solo puedo usar las reglas básicas de improv. I agree with Colton. I don’t have a large vocabulary in Spanish so everything stays basic and real.I can’t use fantasy and magic. I can only use the basic improv rules. Because I don’t have a big vocabulary in Spanish, everything has to be really simple and basic, and I only know what I’ve seen before or what I know is real so I can’t do really wacko stuff that’s out of left field because I wouldn’t be able to explain it well enough. Cesar: So I have this theory that this is one reason why kids are naturally good improvisers. They don’t have the handcuff of which clever word they should use. They just work off of emotion. Isabel: We’re taught to play to the top of our intelligence and they are. Jon: Estoy de acuerdo con Amanda y Colten. Necesito usar el cuerpo mas con improvisación en español porque se que la mitad de la audiencia , o mas, no entiendo lo que estoy diciendo. Quiero que todo la audiencia pueda gozar el show. I agree with Amanda and Colten. I need to use my body more when improvising in Spanish, because I know that half of the audience, or more, doesn’t understand what I’m saying. I want the entire audience to enjoy the show. Sophia: Típicamente en ingles cuando yo improviso soy un poco, no quiero decir inteligente pero um, mmm...soy inteligente, soy inteligente! Y relio en palabras y cosas intelectuales pero en español no se traduce. Entonces para mi es porque lo quería hacer. Para practicar spacework y emociones. Normally, when I improvise in English I’m a little, I don’t want to say intelligent but, um, mmm...OK, I’m intelligent, I’m intelligent! I rely on words and my knowledge but in Spanish that doesn’t translate. That’s why I wanted to do it so I could practice my space work and emotions. Sam: Estoy de acuerdo con Jon. Es muy diferente porque tenemos que hablar en español. Me pongo nervioso actuando en el escenario y ahora arriba de eso lo tengo que hacer en español que es algo que me da vergüenza hacer hasta enfrente de mi familia. Ha sido muy diferente porque ha tenido que salir de mis miedos; aunque todavía no lo he hecho. I agree with Jon. It’s different because you have to speak in Spanish. I get nervous acting on stage and now on top of that I have to do it in Spanish, which is something I feel embarrassed to do even in front of my family. It’s been very different, because I’ve had to overcome my fears, although I haven’t been able to achieve it completely yet. Katie: I agree with everybody. Es diferente porque tengo que usar todas las reglas de improv pero todo más grande. It’s different, because I have to use all the improv rules but so much bigger. So what I’m trying to say, in my English voice now, all the improv rules you have to make even bigger because you can use space work but if you’re not doing it well you don’t have the luxury of saying what you’re doing. Your actions have to be big and your emotions even bigger, so it’s like improv times Spanish. Sal: Se me hizo muy raro porque español fue mi primera idioma y cuando me invitaron a hacer el show pense que iba ser facil. No me imagine que iba ser dificil para mi porque he estudiado improvisación y actuación por tantos anos en inglés que el pensar en español y tratar que otra gente, que quizás no me entienda en español fue muy difícil. Tienes que hablar más lento y ser muy directo en lo que quieres decir. Y no solo comunicar con la persona en el escenario pero con todo el mundo. It was very weird for me, because Spanish is my first language and when I was invited to do this show I thought it would really easy. I didn’t imagine it would be hard for me, because I’ve studied improv and acting for many years in English and to think in Spanish and try to have other people, who maybe don’t understand Spanish very well, was very difficult. You have to speak slower and be more direct when you speak. And not only with the other people on stage but with everyone. Isabel: Yo estoy de acuerdo de todos. I agree with everyone. I’m gonna elaborate in English, though. It is harder, but for me it’s harder because you try to play at the top of your intelligence every time you’re on stage and you have big ideas but you have to take the extra step to shrink it down to its basic stuff. A lot of times here, we have the mentality to not worry about the audience and just do what’s fun for you and it will translate to fun for the audience, but in this show you have to keep the audience in mind because if you don’t, you could have fun but only four of us will really know what’s going on.
What’s a Spanish phrase or saying that inspires or motivates you? Cesar: No contaban con mi astucia! A saying from one of my favorite shows in Spanish, El Chapulin Colorado. Colten: Te lo doy. I’m going to elaborate in English. It means, I give it to you. Using pronouns in Spanish is so hard, because you have to put the pronouns before the verb and it’s really hard to train your brain to do that. Anytime I can say a sentence with a pronoun in it, it motivates me to keep practicing. Amanda: CUIDADO! Because my parents first language is Spanish they often times would revert to Spanish when something quick was happening that I needed to pay attention to… oh, by the way reader, CUIDADO means “Careful.” So I had to learn that as a child to not get burned by things. It’s very motivating. Jon: Kind of like Amanda, I would hear things like siéntete or callete, which are informal commands to sit or be quiet. You know, things you say to kids or dogs or other small creatures. Sophia: This isn’t something I heard as a child, but my favorite phrase translates to salty salad, ensalada salada, that’s silly. And Colten’s thing made me think of my Spanish teacher telling me whenever in doubt spell "socks," S-O-C-K-S… "eso si que es" is actually just a bunch a pronouns and is a grammatically correct sentence. Sam: Ay Maria que punteria is a common saying in India Maria movies, and I think it’s so funny. Most of the comedy is just exaggerated movements. Katie: Te amo. Todos: Awwww. Katie: Something my grandpa used to always say. Just, the mijos and the mijas, because it’s just so sweet. And then just weird stuff they would yell at us in Spanish but we never understood, which I’m sure it’s probably better that we didn’t. Sal: Tengo dos cosas. I have two things. Una es "amor piel." My grandpa used to tell me that all the time and would just touch my arm with his forearm. It means "skin love," which is really weird when you say it in English but it was the sweetest most caring thing. The second thing is from the comedian Cantinflas, and he has a saying "alli esta el detalle," which means, there’s the detail, and I really liked when he’d say that. Everything he did was with a positive energy and was very confident in what he did. Isabel: My dad says this to me all the time. Que sonrie tu corazon, and it sounds really corny in English but it translates to "Let your heart smile." He always says it to me because I’m very serious, but when he says it to me it makes me smile.
What comedians in Hispanic/Latin culture do you admire? Cesar: Chespirito. His show, El Chavo del Ocho, was a family friendly show that had slap stick comedy but also a lot of wordplay that you didn’t appreciate until you got older. Colten: No los tengo todavia porque hablan tan rápidamente. I don’t have any yet, because they speak really fast. Amanda: Estoy de acuerdo con Colton. Pero mi abuelo fue muy cómico. I agree with Colten, but,] my grandpa was very funny. Jon: La versión español de "Los Simpson." The Spanish version of The Simpsons. Sophia: Lo que dijo Colten. Yo pienso que yo soy mas o menos proficiente en español pero lo más difícil es entender humor en otra lengua. What Colten said. I think that I’m more or less proficient in Spanish, but the most difficult thing to understand in another language is humor. Sam: La India Maria, Chespirito, La Chismoltrufia. I also enjoy Spanish comedies from Spain. Katie: What’s the question? I wasn’t paying attention. Sam: Ugh, just go on to the next person. Todos: (laughter) Katie: Oh, it’s Sam. It’s Sam. It’s Sam. Sal: One of my favorite characters is Cantinflas. Capulina y Viruta. Roberto Gómez Bolaños (Chespirito) fue un gran comediante y gran escritor. Me gusta mucho Adal Ramones porque el fue unos de los primeros comediantes que trajo stand up a México. Roberto Gómez Bolaños (Chespirito) was a great comedian and a great writer. I really enjoy Adal Ramones, because he was one of the first comedians to bring stand-up to Mexico. Isabel: My family is really funny and in Mexico, and maybe all Latin American cultures, it’s really common to use wordplay all the time that doesn’t translate into English at all. Outside of that, I really like Eugenio Derbez, because he’s starting to transcend Mexican culture. He was the voice of Donkey in Shrek in Spanish. That was the first movie translated into Spanish that made the the jokes their own and not just trying to translate the English jokes into Spanish.
Tell me your favorite joke in Spanish. (Because after I tell people that I don’t like spicy foods and am pregnant with crabs, I’d like to be able to say something funny.) Cesar: Que le dijo un jaguar al otro jaguar? What did one jaguar say to the other jaguar? How are you? [Editor note: In Spanish, jaguar is said Ha-goo-arr and it sounds like 'how are.'"] Colten: Solo conozco un chiste…Que hace un pez? Nada. I only know what joke. What does a fish do? Nothing. Amanda: Porque la gallina camina en la calle? Porque quería estar en el otro lado! Why was the chicken walking on the street? Because it wanted to be on the other side! Jon: Por que no nadas? Porque no traje traje. Why don’t you swim? Because I didn’t bring a swimming suit. Sophia: No tengo ningún chiste pero no tengo chistes en inglés tampoco. I don’t have any jokes in Spanish, but I don’t have any in English either. Sam: No me recuerdo de ninguno pero cuando estaba chiquito me gustaban mucho los de Pepito. I don’t remember them right now, but when I was a kid I liked the Pepito jokes. Katie: Refiere a pregunta numero uno. Please refer to the first question. Sal: Papa, tu te casaste por la iglesia o por el civil? Por estupido. Dad, did you get married through the church or through the courts? Through stupidty. Isabel: Cuál es el ultimo animal? El delfin. What’s the last animal? The dolphin.
GRACIAS AMIGOS. Don’t miss SpanishProv at the Dallas Comedy House!
Tori Oman is a Level Four student at DCH. She’s trained and performed with the Second City and iO in L.A. and Chicago. Favorite pastimes include being irrationally competitive at Monopoly, eating an apple in every country she’s traveled to, and being the sole person on this planet that thinks Necco Wafers are a delicious candy choice.