Les Luthiers’ Clever Humor

Goodbye, maestro Marcos Mundstock. The best tribute is to continue making everyone laugh. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos A. Montaner, Miami, 3 May 2020 — The first time I heard Les Luthiers it was a beautiful cantata dedicated to the laxative. It was titled “Laxatón.” It was delicious. The laughter arose from the incongruity among those young people — we were in 1972 — dressed in tailcoats, who did not move a muscle of the face, but spoke of the movement of the intestines, in the middle of a rigorously articulated musical composition. I thought they were great.

He was the bald man in the group and had unusual natural grace. Marcos Mundstock died, a few days ago, at the age of 77. He was the founder of Les Luthiers, a septet, which became a sextet and later became a quintet. It is an excellent Argentine group of comic-musicians, or vice versa, created in 1967 by Gerardo Masana, who died prematurely in 1973.

Musical instrument makers are called luthiers, so the name, in French, reflected one of the most creative facets of the ensemble: They could make interesting music with almost anything that could be blown, strummed, or struck. They invented instruments. Like Leonardo da Vinci, who made a paper organ that sounded reasonably well.

When I was a child, in Cuba, I saw, laughed and enjoyed Gaby, Fofó and Miliki, three Spanish clowns who played different instruments. The group was so welcome in Cuba that they decided to settle in the Island. But, when they were already established, “the Commander arrived and ordered the fun to stop.” The clowns and their families also fled Cuba, among the thousands of compatriots who fled in terror, not without first seeing censored an innocent song that they used to sing: “El ratoncito Miguel” (Miguel the little mouse). Why? Because of a stanza that said: “the thing is / horrifying and really scary.”

But the song didn’t end there. It seemed to State Security that it incited the ruler’s assassination, even if it had been written by Félix B. Caignet (author of the novel The Right to be Born) long before Fidel Castro appeared in the country’s history. This is how it ended: “You will see / how hungry a mouse will die, / there is no cheese anymore, / much less a ham flake, / we are going to see / who is going to pluck [the cat] Misifú’s heart.” It was intolerable.

I met Gaby, Fofó and Miliki again in Puerto Rico. It was my daughter Gina’s turn to enjoy them. In 1970 I moved to Spain with my family. And there were the “TV clowns,” as they were known, indulging in their ways, as fun and talented as ever. Then the family had grown, and they made my son Carlos happy. It was as if the accordion they played had become the fun soundtrack of our lives.

Translation from Latin American Herald Tribune


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