The Man Who Made The Spanish-Speaking World Laugh : Alt.Latino : NPR: On Alt.Latino, we constantly ask what it means to be Latino. What do I, an Argentine woman, have in common with Felix Contreras, a Chicano from California? And what do we both have in common with, say, a Central American child who comes alone and undocumented to the U.S.? Poet Ruben Dario famously described Latin Americans as the loose pups of the Spanish lion. In the U.S., marketing teams and politicians alike are trying to find the answer — and in doing so, they frequently force definitions that feel awkward and even condescending.
This week on Alt.Latino, we discuss an icon who made sense to virtually all Latinos, even though his whole shtick was about making no sense at all. Mario Moreno was beloved by the Spanish-speaking world for playing the character of Cantinflas, a working-class Mexican who is goofy but incredibly witty, speaks in puns and nonsensical tongue-twisters, and is goodhearted but a little sly. He always bamboozles the rich and powerful, and he always got the girl. Last weekend, a biopic about his life — titled Cantinflas — premiered across the U.S., and is soon to open in Mexico.