MADRID — Spanish critics call Andreu Buenafuente “the Latino Letterman.” It’s only partly hype.
Terrestrial commercial broadcaster Antena 3’s latenight chat show “Buenafuente” pulls in 1.5 million viewers, the first yakker in seven years to match auds for Telecinco’s latenight “Martian Chronicles.”
Buenafuente and Letterman have much in common.
Like Letterman, Buenafuente’s extended monologue feeds off irony and comedy.
Both are sharp dressers. Letterman has a thing about his hair, Buenafuente has a thing about his spectacles.
He has his quirks, however. Buenafuente’s table is a crummy wooden giant, worthy of a yard sale. It sports, however, a high-tech TV monitor and — occasionally — an Italian flag.
The Spaniard praises Letterman’s “elegance.” His own show, he says, is “U.S.-style fabrication with a Latino soul.”
And that is the secret of Buenafuente’s success — he has taken an American format and added local riffs and large talent.
Nothing unusual there, but the same show is unlikely to have worked even a few years ago.
“Buenafuente’s” comedy touches deep national nerves but, after 28 years of democracy, most Spaniards sense some sacred cows — the monarchy, the Pope — can withstand gentle ribbing.
For instance, “Buenafuente” impersonators’ takeoffs include a nincompoop Prince of Asturias with a dominating wife, the first time the monarchy has been satirized on nationwide TV.
“After 40 years of dictatorship, there’s a lack of criticism in Spain,” Buenafuente has said.
Buenafuente also appeals to intelligence. Viewers who get his involved wordplay feel a proud part of an intelligent Spain: one step forward for a country at the fore of Eurotrash.
Meanwhile, the talkshow’s production company, El Terrat, is on a roll. A partner, Jose Corbacho, co-directed Spain’s second biggest local hit this year, “Tapas,” about a Barcelona barrio.
Terrat is prepping a weatherman sitcom for Catalan pubcaster TVC and comedy series “Divinos” for Antena 3, per A3 contents director Angeles Yague.