SPOILER ALERT

“Humorous individual charged with entertaining kings and courtiers with clowning and gestures.” This is how the RAE defines the concept, word, work or even adjective “jester”. But don’t leave just yet friends, because there’s more to come. The second definition from the very same RAE is “rogue or rascal who makes others laugh”.

The jester has to be kept on a very tight leash, because if not, you end up with a Dani Mateo, Andreu Buenafuente, Ignatius Farray or a Pepe Rubianes.

On the one hand we have the buffoon who is always in the service of others, nobles or common men, and who is not expected to think for themselves or the possibility of going off-script. Behind door number two, we have the jester who is a rascal, a man or a woman of ill repute, a thousand vices and, possibly, quite unreliable and very adept at lying. Conclusion: the jester has to be kept on a very tight leash, because if not, you end up with a Dani Mateo, Andreu Buenafuente, Ignatius Farray or even a Pepe Rubianes, or they write a series like ‘Vergüenza’ (Shame/ashamed) (Movistar +), whose final episode in Season two ends with one of the characters putting a salami in the backside of another character.

And the alarm bells have gone off. We find the jesters offensive! The jesters are filthy! And the right-wingers, (who else could it be?) are screaming blue murder. Sorry, the Right, in capital letters. The one that didn’t disappear in 1978, and it’s still there.

So, who’s behind “Vergüenza”? Well, Juan Cavestany, known, above all, for the comedy roast, but highly unappreciated by the culturati, “The Amazing World of Borjamari and Pocholo” (2004), and Álvaro Fernández-Armero, author of “Todo es mentira” (Life’s a Bitch) (1994), the Spanish generational comedy par excellence. Yes, the one in which Penelope Cruz and Coque Malla have a mythical conversation in the kitchen.

From the sum of the lucid minds of Cavestany and Fernández-Armero comes a series starring Jesus (Javier Gutiérrez in a state of grace), a wedding and communions photographer obsessed with devoting his life to artistic photography, and with one great virtue/defect: he screws everything up. Whatever pops into his head comes right out his mouth. He gets up to his neck in trouble, and not only is he clueless about how to get out of it, but he drags everyone around him right down into the same hole. Jesus is a liar, Jesus doesn’t get anything. And Jesus drives his wife (a prodigious Malena Alterio) insane, he fights with his father-in-law (a sublime Miguel Rellán) and can’t help telling his business partner and friend (a patient and kind Vito Sanz) exactly what he thinks of him.

What’s funny about “Vergüenza” is the cringe factor the procrastinations, blunders and social ineptness of Jesus and his particular take on the meaning of life provoke in others. No, it’s not a comfortable series to watch. There’s an endless supply of jokes on scatology, racism, homosexuality, adoption, cocaine and incest, and sex permeates every episode. It is not the typical light, entertaining and somewhat banal script the textbook jester would perform for whatever king was hot that year, while he yawns apathetically pondering the afternoon’s bloody fox, or elephant hunting awaiting him.

Love him or hate him, Jesus’ role as the wild and unpredictable jester is inspiring. How many times have we bitten our tongues out of fear or politeness?

Cavestany and Fernández-Armero, along with intrepid producer Enrique López Lavigne, take things much further: they wash our dirty linen in public, portray us with all our festering miseries and, taking it to a heavy metal finale, paint an uncomfortable social portrait where an uninspiring and vertically-challenged bloke unintentionally uncovers a web of hypocrisy, secrets, moth-eaten customs and overpowering neoliberalism.

Love him or hate him, Jesus’ role as the wild and unpredictable jester is inspiring. How many times have we bitten our tongues out of fear or politeness?

In the series, Jesus is also known as Paquete (Moron), he’s our man. He represents us. By the way, what does chocarrería mean? Thanks, once again, RAE: “Vulgar joke or saying.”


Pere Vall is a journalist and the world of entertainment in general, specialized in cinema.
In Time Out, ARA, RNE, Catalunya Ràdio, and was editor in Fotogramas during more than 20 years.
Fan of Fellini, horror films and the humour and comedy in general.
As a child, he wanted to look like Alain Delon, and has ended up with a certain similarity in Chicho Ibáñez Serrador. Not complained about it. Javier Blánquez (Barcelona, 1975) is a journalist specialized in culture, editor and professor of the history of modern music.
He is a collaborator of different Spanish media -El Mundo, Time Out Barcelona, Beatburguer-, as well as the Barcelona publisher Alpha Decay, and has coordinated the collective book Loops. A history of electronic music (2002 and 2018), together with Omar Morera, for the publisher Reservoir Books.
In 2018 he also published, this time as author, the continuation, Loops 2. A history of electronic music in the 21st century.
As a result of his interest in classical music, which he has combined with electronic music for years, he also writes about opera in El Mundo and publlished in 2014 the essay Una invasión silenciosa. Cómo los autodidactas del pop han conquistado el espacio de la música clásica for the Capitán Swing publishing company.