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With Netflix shows, sold-out tours, and huge national and international followings, a host of Santiago’s comedians are taking their dry Chilean humor to the next level. Here are some of the city’s finest stand-up comedians to discover.
Sergio Freire won not one, but two Gaviotas (a prestigious award in Chile) in the 2018 Festival del Viña, during a performance that won over everyone in the huge, diverse and critical crowd. Freire doesn’t do niche humor; he is a naturally funny guy that can make anyone laugh just by saying a few sentences. For downright fun and lighthearted jokes, Freire is your guy. Maybe the lack of political, sensitive or difficult topics make him an ideal comedian for those who are just venturing into Chilean humor, but beware – you will need to know a bit of Chilenismos (Chilean slang) to get the most out of his performance.
Jani Dueñas is pretty legendary on the Chilean comedy scene now, thanks to her longstanding role as the voice of puppet Patana Tufillo on the much-loved kids’ show 31 minutos. Although 31 minutos is technically for children, it’s popular throughout Latin-America for its nonsensical dialogues and hilarious songs. Aside from being a masterful puppeteer and scriptwriter, Dueñas is one of the city’s most prolific stand-up comedians. She talks about a wide range of topics with anything but kid-friendly humor. She tackles getting older, being taken seriously with a name like Jani, feminist struggles and dodgy haircuts. Her Netflix stand-up show, Grandes Fracasos, premiered earlier this year and yes, it has English subtitles, but try to learn the many ways the word weón can be used, as the subtitles don’t totally grasp it!
Paloma Salas has been on the comedy circuit for a long time, spending a large part of her career collaborating with other comedians – she has featured alongside Natalia Valdebenito, and currently presents a radio show with her longtime friend and comedy partner Jani Dueñas. But now she’s going going solo, recently premiering her new show En Serio in various Santiago venues to much acclaim. Her provocative, personal stand-up routine explores people’s perceptions versus reality, such as whether getting older really means being more mature, and throws in a little bit of improv, too.
Fabrizio Copano‘s most recent Netflix show Solo Pienso en Mi (I only think of myself) embodies Chile’s very entrenched internet humor. He cracks jokes about online relationships, the joys and struggles of WhatsApp messaging and maintaining Instagram appearances, poking fun at the vanity of his selfie-obsessed generation. He now lives in the US, working on his career in the northern hemisphere, and performing stand-up in English. He will return to Chile soon, teaming up with Sergio Freire for a huge arena show in Santiago.
Natalia Valdebenito does feminist-themed comedy at a time that many of her peers, both men and women, are trying to get in on the topic. While others make the theme seem tired or rehearsed, Natalia’s stand-up is so fresh and funny, while also being meaningful and honest. She almost effortlessly switches between stark, serious topics about the horrible consequences of Chile’s lack of legal abortion rights, to hilariously poking fun of those who feel threatened by women. If the topics feel too heavy, her dorky, endearing laugh and self-critical humor provide relief and respite. Valdebenito has two Netflix specials that can be watched now (with English subtitles): Gritona, was a huge success and El Especial really cemented her position as one of Chile’s best comedians. Later this year, she will tour Europe, including a set at London’s El Carnaval de Comedia.