We Latinos are known for many positive characteristics, such as our strong family bonds, fierce work ethic, and inherent sexiness (really, it’s a thing).
However, we don’t have the reputation of being particularly funny people. As I’ve written before, Hispanic equivalents to Jon Stewart or Chris Rock or Tina Fey are tough to name.
But maybe that has less to do with culture than with access.
Historically, there has been no hub for Latino comedy. To fill that niche, Broadway Video Enterprises (founded by SNL creator Lorne Michaels) recently launched Más Mejor, a new online comedy studio powered by Latino voices.
The site will feature content by Hispanic comedians and/or about Latino themes. Among the big names involved are SNL alumni Fred Armisen and Horatio Sanz, who joined together to contribute one of Más Mejor’s most popular videos so far. Other early hits include a takedown of Mexico City’s tourism campaign and a jab at every Latino’s favorite presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Future content will include topical sketches, cultural and political satire, and original web videos.
One of the site’s partners is Batanga Media, which will distribute premium content to its 70 million monthly users.
Rafael Urbina, CEO of Batanga, agrees that few Latino comedians have broken through to the mainstream. But he sees that as less of an issue — and even less of a goal — going forward.
“Crossing over into the mainstream is great,” Urbina says. “But Más Major isn’t so much about breaking through to the traditional media. It’s more about engaging with the audience directly.”
Urbina points out that Latinos in general, and young Hispanics in particular, are voracious consumers of online media. For example, Hispanics watch 62 percent more digital video than non-Hispanics.
To a Latino Millennial, therefore, it doesn’t matter if a comedian has his own Comedy Central show or was featured in a Judd Apatow movie. All that matters is whether the guy makes them laugh when they click on a video downloaded to their phones.
“We can reach exactly who we want to reach, and not have to water down the content in hopes of reaching a mass audience,” Urbina says. “If we do that well, we will create our own mass audience. A new mainstream.”
It’s an ambitious goal, and one that goes beyond proving that Hispanics can be funny. If Más Mejor is successful, it could indicate a new model not just for Latino audiences, but for an increasingly digital world.
Urbina adds, however, that one element will always be essential when it comes to great comedy.
“Authenticity is a key pillar,” he says. “Young Latinos love comedy, and if people are authentic and talented, we now have a way for them to build a dedicated following.”