We Cubans Laugh at Ourselves

Dariela Aquique

Foto: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Laughing is nothing more than showing joy or rejoicing with inarticulate sounds, accompanied by certain movements of the face and body. It is making fun of people and things, and show that they are not taken seriously.

Laughter is considered one of the best therapies. It makes you relax and distracts you. But for Cubans, laughter is almost a way of life. What for people in other countries would be something of concern or regret, or perceived so circumspect, for us it is taken as a joke .

Something like the saying … if your ill has no cure, why the hurry … It could well be … if your ill has no cure, then laugh about it … We make jokes and parodies of every aspect of our lives.

The joke is part of the national character. Not surprisingly, we have always had a whole host of comedians.

In every art form wit is present. But the comedians have become one of the most esteemed artists groups and their presentations draw audiences as large or larger than that of any singer or popular band.

The Humor Promotion Center must be one of the most profitable companies in the country. Though ticket prices tend to be a bit high, the theaters are crammed for presentations .

The comedy show Por humor a vos is currently on a national tour with three of most well known comedians in the country Kike Quiñones, Carlos Gonzalvo and Luis Silva. These last two popularly known for their characters Mentepollo (Dr. chicken brain) and old Panfilo.

The first is a “multifaceted doctor,” who can be writing a book, giving a lecture, or doing some scientific or sociological research.

The second is “retired,” obsessed with the ration card, the poor quality of the bread, the day the chicken ration arrives and how little his pension purchases.

In their monologues, both the studies of Mentepollo and the lamentations of Panfilo, are strong social criticisms on the situation of food, transportation, low wages, bureaucracy, corruption, among many of our ailments.

That sarcasm that characterizes us brings the laughter of thousands of people. They make us chuckle with issues as pathetic as remembering the sad days of the Special Period crisis of the ‘90s, which in another country with a different culture would be something forgotten or of forced solemnity when mentioned.

Comedians make us laugh heartily about our shortages, our limitations, our miseries. Sometimes a little biting, especially when laughter is at the expense of gays, blacks, or the people from the provinces .

But that’s who we are. It has been an excellent strategy to survive the stress. We make fun of others and laugh at ourselves.

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

One thought on “We Cubans Laugh at Ourselves

  • My Cuban wife once shared the same perspective as the author Dariela. That somehow because of shared hardships, Cubans possessed heightened capacity for self-effacing humor. Anyway, after meeting my Jewish friends here in San Francisco and hearing how they recount the Holocaust with humorous anecdotes, she understood that hard times has the same effect on everyone. My wife has also heard all the stories about the racism my mother faced in the South prior to and during the Civil Rights movement. Again, she realized that African-Americans also have the ability to laugh at themselves. Dariela is well to be proud of her Cuban heritage and to seek out unique characteristics to support her pride. However, self-effacing humor is nothing unique to ‘Cubanismo’. It is what all humans possess. We laugh to keep from crying. By the way, she also thought Cubans work harder than anyone else for a lot less money. Then she moved to California and saw how migrant farm workers live and her views changed again.

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