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  HOME | Uruguay

Comedians Play Off the Argentine Pope at Uruguayan Carnival

By Marta Rodriguez Martinez

MONTEVIDEO – Comedy troupe The Bergoglios debuted at the 2015 Uruguayan Carnival Contest with a satirical performance inspired by Pope Francis’s “humble and down to earth” persona, and the group hopes to take its act across the River Plate to Argentina.

“I think Francis is a very simple person because he’s a soccer fan and likes jokes, so he’s an easy target for satire,” the troupe’s director, Claudio Ramos, told Efe, adding that the group “would be proud if the pope just heard about them.”

The choice of the “murga” name did not sprout first in reference to Pope Francis, but from a Uruguayan play on words and the term pope, in Spanish “papa,” which can also mean “potato.”

To make humor is not “papa,” Uruguayans say, meaning humor is not an easy thing to do, although if one looks at the large number of comedy troupes in the carnival contest it looks like in this country humor is easy to do.

That is how these comedians casually got to “papa” and found a comic angle on Jorge Bergoglio’s charismatic papal figure.

The Bergoglios open their skit by inviting Pope Francis to come to Uruguay and bless the troupe, but since “he cannot come, we put someone in his place and from there situations and mix-ups arise,” Ramos said.

In the parody, Interior Minister Eduardo Bonomi becomes an improvised bodyguard for the fake pope, and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica donates his famous “Fusca” Volkswagen Beetle as a “smart popemobile.”

Crucial to winning at the Uruguayan Carnival Contest is to have loyal fans who laugh, cheer and applaud at the beachside Summer Theater, where “murgas,” “comparsas,” “humorists,” “parodists,” “revues,” “samba schools” and other groups compete for first place in different categories.

La Teja and El Cerro are Montevideo’s “biggest carnival neighborhoods,” according to Miguel Rosales, who became one of The Bergoglios in a casting call over social networks.

Rosales performs the role of an altar boy, a funny character to contrast with the priest who solemnly announces the pope’s visit to Uruguay.

Even before their debut, The Bergoglios had already generated interest in Pope Francis’s native Argentina, Ramos said, and some Argentines have called in to say they are interested in importing the show.

Taking the show to Argentina would be quite good because it would give the performance a second life beyond the month-long Uruguayan Carnival and make even more worthy the great effort to produce it, Ramos said.

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