December 18 saw the premiere of season two of Comedy Central Presents, produced by El Terrat (The Mediapro Studio), bringing yet more comedy greats to the small screen to tell their hilarious stories.
This season features Eva Soriano, Toni Acosta, Patricia Espejo, Miguel Iríbar, Nacho García, Luis Zahera, as well as the Mexican comedians Alexis de Anda and Carlos Ballarta.
So how did it come about that these eight masters took to the mic on what’s like TV’s Olympus of humor? To find out, we spoke with Tomàs Fuentes, director of the latest installments, who provides some clues.
How did you come to be the director of Comedy Central Presents?
I was one of the writers of some of the monologues for season one, so was already known from working as part of the team. They approached me about it and I was delighted to accept.
What do you like the most about stand-up?
Its simplicity – it’s like going back to the origin of comedy. We’ve been without such a monologue show for a long time. I remember when appearing on Nuevos cómicos (New Comedians) used to be the dream of every Spanish comedian. We need something like this so they know that beyond performing in bars to make a living, they can appear here.
Why do some comedians love stand-up and others hate it?
I really like it but it’s true it’s a hard slog to come up with 15 minutes of new material that’s good enough to make people laugh. That’s why when they are on the crest of the wave, hosting things and so on, some comedians can’t be bothered having to go back to bars again, to try out their monologues on the audiences there. But for me it’s the purest form, because with stand-up, it doesn’t matter how famous you are, you have to work on your material and test it on audiences.
How do you pick the comedians who star in each season of Comedy Central Presents?
It’s partly a product of our own professional bias but we keep an eye out for people who have been at the top of their game during the last year or so, who haven’t already appeared, and who are doing interesting things. Moreover, this season, we’ve been able to bring in comedians from Latin America. We did our homework in order to find people who fit in with what we’re looking for, who suit the spirit of the show and who we liked.
What would you highlight about each of the stand-up comedians in the new episodes?
You’ll be surprised by the topic Eva has chosen and the ease with which she talks about it; Toni Acosta is interesting because he had never done stand-up before but he’s a natural; Patricia is one of my favorite comedians because she mixes a certain acerbity with feminism and it comes off as if she’s making it up as she goes; Miguel has a knack for telling personal anecdotes mixed with aspects of everyday life that anyone can relate to; Nacho is all about energy and really connects with the audience; Zahera is the revelation of this season; Ballarta will surprise viewers with his departure from his usual singular persona; while Alexis shows that you can make people laugh no matter where you’re from.
The live audience is another of the essential ingredients. How do you choose the audience members?
For this latest season, we reached out to people from the El Terrat audience database to ensure they were people who really wanted to see comedy, to have a laugh and enjoy themselves.
What directions do the comedians get before going on stage?
Just a few, mainly involving lighting and positioning on stage, but they can say what they want. It’s true that beforehand we hold a content meeting but it’s mainly just so the various comedians don’t double up with the subjects they address. There are no lines they can’t cross; everyone has absolute freedom to talk about what they want.
The streaming services are now also investing in stand-up. Is it a genre that works on TV?
It’s an easy to enjoy format that everyone likes. Each viewer will have their favorite comedian but there is something for everyone. There should be more investment in stand-up, because it’s something that’s simple to do but that has broad appeal. More and more people are watching North American comedy because there’s a lack of Spanish content. We have neglected viewers of programs like El Club de la Comedia (The Comedy Club), so that could be a niche for the streamers to explore.