An Englishman, two American women and an Argentine of uncertain gender (their words, not mine) walk into a Buenos Aires bar… and take to the stage for a night of rip-roaring comedy and gags in English. That’s right, folks – the city that is home to the Tower of the English People and British-built railway tracks now hosts a weekly comedy night in the very same English language. Ladies and gentleman, I present GrinGo StandUp and its all-star international cast of comedians Ana Carolina, MC Francesca Fiorentini, Kate Sedgwick and Daniel Tunnard.
How did English comedy in Buenos Aires come about? Producer Gabriel Grosvald, who has been producing standup in Spanish for six years, recalls that star turn, Argentine Ana Carolina actually approached him. “Last year I was on holiday in California and received a tweet from Ana Carolina asking me to produce an English standup show in Buenos Aires. I was travelling with Argentine comedian Ezequiel Campa and we were checking out some comedy. Then, on my return, I received an email from American comedian Peter Ostrovski, saying he would like to perform in Buenos Aires, so we organised a first night as a test, with free tickets.” And the rest is history.
Headline act Ana Carolina, an Argentine who takes her often-native-English-speaking audience to task and clearly wins, got into standup after being involved with circus street performing, improv and puppetry. She says: “When I saw standup comics, I thought it could be a way of fusing all this other stuff I did without having to drag equipment around. So I guess I got involved in standup because I like how much synthesis it has as a stage art form, and also because I don’t like to drag stuff around.”
Ana Carolina; photo courtesy of Beatrice Murch.
Despite doing comedy in her second language, Ana Carolina says it isn’t a problem for her. “The first time I ever did standup in my life was in New York City so for me standup comedy IS in English. Rather, I ask myself why on earth I put myself through standup in Spanish – and I have yet to find an answer.”
Stick to the Original
One of the original comedians to make the mike her own is American Kate Sedgwick, who runs the Second Story event and admits to being a bit of a ham. “As soon as I heard GrinGo StandUp was happening, I started going to every show. I’m obsessed with comedy, but Spanish leaves my jokes lost in translation. This was still while Peter Ostrovski was the MC. After the show, I asked Peter if I could get five minutes. He came to Second Story to see me, and I got the nod for GrinGo.”
Kate Sedgwick; photo courtesy of Angela at San Telmo Loft.
A good comedian is always working on material and Kate shares some of hers. “A crowd favourite of my bits (gags) is when I talk about the horrible things men I’ve encountered have apparently learned from pornography. Some things are best left to the pros, probably. Maybe it’s my best, or maybe it’s just that it’s the one I’ve been working on the longest, so it has the most jokes worked into it.”
Bringing up the rear of regular comedians is bus surfer and token Brit GrinGo StandUpper Daniel Tunnard, who, thanks to his nationality, offers the following comedy gems to his audience: “Needlessly extensive knowledge of the individual members of Queen and a substandard impersonation of Ronnie Corbett.”
Daniel Tunnard; photo courtesy of Beatrice Murch.
Any person who has ridden every single bus line in Buenos Aires has surely already earned their comedy stripes, but Daniel joined earlier this year for the following simple reason: “Some people were doing something that was very popular that didn’t involve me. My ego couldn’t take it.”
MC with Mostess
Of course, gluing all this comedy mayhem together is the one and only Chinese-Italian expatigrant Francesca Fiorentini. Also the MC of the Argentina Independent pub quiz, she became involved “because comedy saves lives, duh. I hadn’t had much luck finding other wannabe comedians to put together an evening of amateur standup but heard about GrinGo, went to my first show, and accosted the host Peter Ostrovski with shameless enthusiasm. He and the producers let me up for three minutes, and my joy on stage was [obvious]. But the audience seemed to enjoy it as well, so at least the pleasure was not merely mine.”
MC Francesca Fiorentini; photo courtesy of Kate Sedgwick.
GringGo StandUp (comedy in English in Buenos Aires) takes place at 9pm every Tuesday at Café Rivas, Estados Unidos 302, San Telmo. Tickets cost AR$30 and you can book online here. As well as the regular comedians and comediennes mentioned here, also expect short sets from guest turns as well.
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