You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Brazilian Comedy Troupe Porta dos Fundos Parlays YouTube Success Into TV, Movie Deals

Latin American talent has energized the global film market with movies like “Wild Tales,” “Instructions Not Included,” “We Are the Nobles” and “Gloria.” Now, a Brazilian comedy troupe has joined the fray, parlaying Internet stardom into a touring legit show, TV and movie deals.

The humor of Porta dos Fundos (which translates as Back Door) skewers politicians, corporations, Rio de Janeiro police, the Ku Klux Klan, James Bond, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Santa Claus and even the Holy Family — in the troupe’s 2013 Christmas special, Joseph frets to the angel Gabriel that his co-workers in the carpentry shop have been gossiping about Mary’s pregnancy. (That sketch prompted a lawsuit from a conservative religious leader, which was recently settled in favor of Porta dos Fundos.)

The troupe’s YouTube channel has 10.1 million subscribers, and regularly gets around 1.7 billion views per day, according to data on SocialBlade.com. Now, after producing nearly 400 sketches on the new-media platform — Porta dos Fundos posts a new sketch every Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 11 a.m. — the troupe is ready to step into “old” media with TV series “O Grande Gonzalez” (The Great Gonzalez) for Fox’s local pay-TV channel Canal Fox; and feature film “Porta dos Fundos — contrato vitalicio” (Porta dos Fundos — Lifetime Contract), to be released in 2016 by Downtown, a local company that specializes in distributing Brazilian films.

The group’s five founding partners — Antonio Tabet, Fabio Porchat, Gregorio Duvivier, Ian Fernandes (aka Ian SBF) and Joao Vicente de Castro — uploaded their first series of sketches on Porta
dos Fundos’ YouTube channel in 2012, after the comedians — who all hail from Rio — quit their day jobs as actors, writers or directors at Brazil’s No. 1 broadcaster TV Globo.

“We decided to give up our contracts with Globo to pursue a different type of humor — to do it our way,” Porchat told Variety in an interview at the group’s new and expanded headquarters in Rio’s tourist-friendly South zone.

The troupe’s influences include Monty Python and the Kids in the Hall, though CollegeHumor and Funny or Die inspired how it structured its YouTube channel, said Tabet, the only member over 40.

The group’s polished production values immediately set it apart from other Internet comic productions, and new sketches are subtitled in English and Spanish. Eventually, Fundos’ library will all be subtitled.

Television executives started to take notice, and worked hard to woo the troupe: “We received offers from virtually all (free) TV and many pay-TV networks in Brazil,” Tabet explained. “We chose
Fox, because their offer fulfilled our financial demands and granted us absolute creative freedom.”

In 2014, Canal Fox began airing a 30-minute show of Porta dos Fundos sketches. That deal eventually led to the development and greenlighting of the original 10-episode series “The Great Gonzalez.” Shooting started at the end of June, although no air date has been set for the comic mystery, centered on the murder of the titular Gonzalez. Gabriel Esteves, a regular writer for the troupe’s online sketches, and Porchat co-wrote the script; Ian SBF will helm.

“Lifetime Contract,” meanwhile, is in pre-production and scheduled to start lensing in September or October. The pic sports a screenplay by Porchat, and will be helmed by SBF. “ ‘Lifetime Contract’ will not be a combination of sketches,” Porchat said. “It is a feature film with a beginning, (middle) and end.”

For Porta dos Fundos, there’s no end in sight. It now has about 40 fulltime employees, and its new headquarters houses a studio, as the troupe grows to become a multiplatform production company. Nataly Mega oversees its YouTube channel and legit ops — the group is touring Brazil with comic play “Portatil” (Portable), which it bowed May 30 — while Tereza Gonzalez runs the TV and film production divisions. With such rapid expansion and the new deals, the challenge for the Fundos team is to remain independent and on the cutting edge.

And still looking at things through the Back Door.

More Digital

  • Livenation AR Live stream

    Live Nation to Debut AR Live Stream at Music Midtown Festival

    Come September, Live Nation is set to begin streaming live events in augmented reality. The entertainment giant will debut live AR broadcasting at the Music Midtown festival in Atlanta, Georgia, where attendees will also be able to unlock filters and other AR effects. Live Nation announced the new initiative at the Cannes Lions festival Thursday, [...]

  • Adam Driver appears in The Report

    Amazon’s ‘The Report’ Gets U.K. Theatrical Release Ahead of Streaming Launch

    Amazon Studio’s “The Report” will be released theatrically in the U.K. three weeks before it lands on the Prime Video streaming service. The Scott Z. Burns film tells the story of Daniel J. Jones, a U.S. Senate staffer who worked to reveal that truth about an “enhanced interrogation” program run by the CIA in the [...]

  • Netflix HQ LA

    Netflix Engineers Developed a Rumble Pack Feature During Latest Hack Day

    A duo of Netflix employees had a unique idea for making the service’s shows even more stirring: They added a rumble pack option to the Netflix app as part of the company’s latest hack day. When watching shows like “Voltron,” the feature makes phones vibrate in sync with the action on the screen, similar to [...]

  • Apple - iPhone-XR-launch-Covent-Garden-London

    Apple Warns New Tariffs Would Impact iPhones, iPads, Macs

    Apple has told U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer in a filing that all of its major products would be impacted if the U.S. enacted a fourth round of tariffs in its escalating trade war with China. CNBC was first to report about the filing Thursday. “The proposed tariff list covers all of Apple’s major products, [...]

  • Amazon Music

    Amazon Music Launches on Comcast's Xfinity X1 Set-Tops

    Amazon Music is rolling out on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 — the first pay-TV distribution deal for the ecommerce company’s music service. The cable operator’s addition of Amazon Music comes six months after it added Amazon Prime Video to the X1 lineup. Prime Video quickly became one of the most-used apps on the service, which prompted [...]

  • The Frontier

    Conecta Fiction: Project Pitches Prizes Passed Out in Pamplona

    On Wednesday evening the Spanish city of Pamplona was overrun, not by bulls, but by hopeful TV creators who had spent the early week pitching their projects at Conecta Fiction, and who anxiously waited to find out the titles which would take home silverware. Meanwhile, “Monzón,” a Disney-Pampa-Incaa production portraying the tragic violence of Argentine [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content