A Sane Humorist Under The Big Tent / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

The humorist Nelson Gudin, El Bacán. (14ymedio)
The humorist Nelson Gudin, El Bacán. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 4 March 2016 – To be a part of the audience at the comic El Bacán’s stand-up show, feels like participating in a conspiracy. It was a feeling we in the audience had this Thursday at the actor-director’s most recent presentation under the Big Tent, west of the Cuban capital.

Nelson Gudin, bureaucratic pseudonym of a character called El Bacán, appears on stage with a glass of rum. He staggers in front of the microphone and speaks as if under the effects of drunkenness. His histrionic appeal lies in the ambiguous situation; if it is true that a drunk will not be listened to, under the influence of alcohol people are uninhibited and tell the truth.

In a sequence that unfolds cleverly, we hear anecdotes and reflections where the actor uses an irreproachable naivetéas an effective weapon. Anyone who laughs is necessarily an accomplice. What he is saying with such sincerity is only funny because he no longer believes in the system and knows that no one can have so much faith after so many failures.

El Bacán justifies his alcoholism as a way to heal the frustration of his high hopes. He confesses to being a man who doesn’t give up and says he believes just like the first day. So he begins with complaints about the price the audience has paid to see the show and continues with his laments about the poor performance of the baseball team at the last Caribbean Series in Santo Domingo, his surprise at the visit of the pope and his stupefaction over the announcement of Obama’s trip to Cuba.

All of reality is subject to El Bacán’s biting irony: national television programs, shortages, government reforms, foreign telenovelas, epidemics, the political police and even the jokes that he himself spills on the stage.

The audience applauded frenetically from the stands this Thursday, belting out demands for “a la carte” humor. Among the most requested was the Cyprus monologue, a viral phenomenon in which the national audiovisual distribution networks criticize the silence of the official press about national problems while offering extensive coverage of the situations of far off nations, like Cyprus.

Nelson Gudin demonstrated, on Thursday, that drunkenness and madness have moments of painfully sober, hilarious lucidity.