In these difficult times, Argentines stopped for laughs this week, when they celebrated the 25th anniversary of the death of comedian Tato Bores – the artistic name of Mauricio Borensztein (1925-1996). Some of his most famous skits and monologues are remembered on television, as well as on social media.
What is most impressive, however, when we look today at the most talented comedian Argentina has ever had is that the country’s problems that were the raw material of his jokes persist: the crises. successive economic factors, weak institutions, corruption in justice, obsession with the dollar and the nervousness of Argentines tend to follow the country’s policy.
Bores had a special look. He always wore a tuxedo because he said that, in a country where changes were so frequent, “you never know if you can invite me to be a minister today”. He wore thick glasses that always slid down his nose and a slightly disheveled fur that reinforced his amazement about Argentina.
He spoke quickly, very quickly, with slightly decorated and very improvised texts. A wordy type of humor that may not have drawn so many audiences in Brazil. But in Argentina, Bores was a league champion and for most of his career he aired the show on Sunday nights, competing and even winning in soccer matches and sports commentary programs.
Among the most common passages are those which refer to the dollar, and which question the weakness of Argentina’s currency, and those which make fun of figures who still exist today: speculators, judges and corrupt politicians. One of them suggests that you collect all the dollars saved by Argentines under their mattresses and with those huge savings buy the USA. “I don’t know how the gringos, who are so smart, don’t realize the risk they are taking with us.”
In one of his monologues, Bores described a scene from the 1960s, which I still see today and which will take place in Buenos Aires while reading this text: “You walk down San Martín Street, where the offices of changes, and the whole country stands in front of the windows. There are workers, masons, pawns, tailors, musicians, artists, everything. Everyone has a little bundle of money, and as soon as the quote changes, they all go to the bank. One says “give me three dollars”, another says “give me four dollars”, another says “give me eight dollars” and they run away. And they go to another bureau de change. And before the quote moves, sell the dollars. And so they spend all day selling and buying. Buy and sell. And when the night comes, they go home, holed up, broken, fall dead on a sofa, count the money, call the woman and say: “Vieja, vieja”, come. Today I won 14 mangoes [gíria para dinheiro] and I didn’t do anything ”. The public still laughs today at the tragicomic joke.
His program was so popular that there were always star guests, from actors and actresses to presidents. Carlos Menem and Raúl Alfonsín, for example, victims of so many jokes on their part, often came to give interviews (in the video below, Menem talks to Bores eating pasta). There were also celebrity armed scenes. In one of them, Bores has his dinner interrupted by the figure of Justice, played by Susana Giménez, who enters the stage of the comedian carrying his scales. Considering the importance of the visitor, Bores bows and invites her to dinner, until she opens up to him: she is tired of being constantly raped and asks the actor for a lawyer.
With 50 years on television, Bores has faced censorship on several occasions. Isabel Perón, the widow of Juan Domingo Perón, was one of those who banned her from broadcasting when she was president (1975-1976). Then he came back, but he had to bypass the dictatorship (1976-1983) by making ironies, which he managed with great skill until he invented a fictitious phone call with the dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, and had to leave the airwaves again. In the 1990s, with better production and a loyal following, its programs began to be more elaborate, with musical performances and effects. But what everyone was looking forward to was still the hour of the monologue.
Bores pioneered political humor in Argentina, and perhaps he regretted that today the problems he pointed out remain so current. So much so that their two children continue to work on them. Alejandro Borensztein writes a weekly column for political humor in the Clarín newspaper, and Sebastián Borensztein is a filmmaker and has directed the comedies “Um Conto Chineso” (2011) and “A Odisseia dos Tontos”. In his works, it seems that the spirit of his father’s work is present, laughing so as not to cry.