“It would be irresponsible to not point out the things I feel are unique to a Latino perspective right now” explains Arturo Castro about his Comedy Central sketch series “Alternatino.” Watch our exclusive video interview above. He continues, “I don’t believe in preaching at people. But I think comedy is such an instructive tool. When laughing you are open and less guarded. The message seeps through a little more. We are not a weekly show that shoots Monday and airs Tuesday. We cannot attack a tweet or a really current subject. So, we attack the idea. The idea of discrimination and the idea ignorance.”
Castro is the mind behind and many faces of “Alternatino.” The series presents sketches based on his views and experiences, and his aim is for the program to expand people’s perspectives. He says, “If you see somebody who doesn’t look like you, and they are going through the same things you are, or they are laughing at the same situations that you find funny; the hope is that next time you see them, you will see less of a separation. And I really believe that.”
One of the issues the first season addressed was gun violence. He reveals, “We wrote and shot that a year before a string of mass shootings. We decided to postpone the sketch, and postpone the sketch. It happened from week to week. Eventually I decided to air it. I wasn’t making fun of mass shootings. It was making a point about their senselessness and how hard they are to explain. It wound up being really pertinent and powerful for gun control advocates.”
Castro also explains that it was tricky to write a sketch on family separation. “We wanted to juxtapose that if you agree with putting kids in cages, you are treating them like animals. It was about a new ICE program where they introduce cage free kids that are grass fed. It was hard to write because we were really sad about what’s happening. It took us a little while to crack an angle where we could also be entertaining. It was a protest sketch. And protest sketches are always tricky when you lead with the message first. It took us a week. But writers’ rooms are really fun for the most part. You wake up in the morning and go to the office and it’s six other individuals that make you laugh. It’s stressful and there’s deadlines. But the joy of creation in the writers room! Even talking about it now, I remember the moment of eureka when that sketch happened. It’s like watching magic happen.”
And the magic doesn’t just happen in the writer’s room. Castro reflects, “When starting out in New York, I’d walk by streets closed down because of a production. There’s trucks and coffee set up and everything. And I thought, ‘what is it gonna take to get on one of those sets?’ The first thing that we shot, I show up to the street. Sure enough it’s closed down and there are the trucks saying ‘Alternatino.’ These 60 crew members I admire so much are coming together and giving up their time to do something that I came up with a basement in Brooklyn one day.”
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