Puerto Rico: Triumph Over Television, The Comedy of Esoez.com

Photo: Courtesy of PuertoRicoIndie.com

Back in April 15, 2009, when @Nerdote and @Fetoso sat down in front of a computer to create their first YouTube account, hoping people would tune into their comedy channel, they didn't really know what would come out of the whole ordeal. Fast-forward a couple of years and the duo has developed a loyal following within Puerto Rico's blogosphere, racking up over 800,000 video views on their YouTube channel, and welcoming thousands of visitors a month to their blog – Esoez.com.

Their particular brand of NSFW (“not safe for work”) comedy might offend those with delicate sensibilities – however, Nerdote and Fetoso's charming personalities seem to brake through the “vulgarity” and, in the end, please those initially shocked by their inventiveness. Either that or Puerto Ricans really love their dirty, raw, and irreverent humor!

We sat down with the creators of Esoez.com to talk about the origin of their blog and YouTube channel, their most beloved characters, and the blogosphere. Parts of the interview, originally conducted for PuertoRicoIndie.com (in Spanish), were also edited by the duo into a video which you can watch below – but not on TV.

Global Voices: Esoez.com started off as a variety show of sorts. What was the planning like for that first episode?

Nerdote: I think that in the mind of everyone with the intent to make a video, there's this “Let's go film, and we'll have musicians, and we'll have comedy, and we'll have interviews with people on the street and sketches!” moment. And in reality, once you turn that camera on you realize you have no idea what you are doing. If you watch the first episode of the Esoez variety show, it opens with a shot of myself – dead quiet – because we hadn't planned anything. We tried a couple of jokes – stuff we improvised, without planning, and nothing “clicked.” A friend of ours said: “And what if you don't say anything, you act like you are nervous (which wasn't difficult at all) and just as you are about to speak, we'll cut?” And that was… PERFECT!!!

GV: What was the reaction you got on the Internet to that first episode?

N: We thought people would keel over – that once we completed that first episode, people were going to be like: “Can we be on your show?!?” No one cared at all…

Fetoso: We thought we would have a live audience and everything – but it didn't pan out.

GV: But now the blog has a steady audience. What's Esoez.com's biggest success? What has brought you the most traffic?

N: A character called Fico Fronte – by the thousands.

GV: And what's the origin of that character? Why do you think that it has been well received?

F: People like it!

N: I've been doing a version of Fico Fronte throughout my life. When I was younger, I'd always imitate a “badass” like Fico Fronte – because I'm really a pussy. But everyone has a friend that swears he's super-badass and that's why I think the character has been well received. I don't think its because he swears a lot and calls women “bitches.” People leave us a lot of comments saying: “Damn, I know someone EXACTLY like Fico Fronte.”

F: And like Maritere [Fico Fronte's sometimes-love interest].

GV: Does the character represent a social critique?

N: Look – a lot of our videos, after we've published them online, we've receive comments saying: “Nice video and love the critique.” And maybe after we've made them – and after someone has pointed it out to us – we'll go like: “Damn, it's true.” But not quite with Fico Fronte. There's no real message there. I'm not going to try to sell you something I don't quite buy. Fico Fronte is a character who calls women “bitches”… Perhaps you should use Fico Fronte as an example of how NOT to behave, since I'm making him the target of ridicule.

We have a slogan: Giving good opportunities to bad ideas. I think that sums up the whole thinking behind Fico Fronte and the rest of what we do. Esoez – giving good opportunities to bad ideas. Triunfo (Triumph).

GV: You made the word “Triunfo” or “Triumph” a staple in Puerto Rico's blogosphere – it has become one of your catchphrases in Esoez.com.  How did that come about?

N: It comes from the phrase “estamos triunfando” (we are triumphing) – something I've always said for a long time now. I don't know if there's a bit of sarcasm in it…

F: I started using the word “Triunfo” thanks to @Nerdote. I think it's one of those words that people don't use as much but it sounds really cool to you personally so you start using them. Like “estiércol” (manure). I love saying “estiércol” when I go to the bathroom.

N: “Triunfo” is such a positive word… When I got to work on a Monday and people asked me how I was doing, I'd say “estamos triunfando” (we are triumphing). And people are surprised to hear that, but it's something so positive and so good that… it's a good message. And I know it sounds clichéd but triumphing is good.

Photo credit: Amarilys Oyola for PuertoRicoIndie.com / Used with permission

GV: Do you think that what you do is more offensive than what is commonly shown on local television programming or heard on the radio?

N: Perhaps… We never think about what is or not appropriate.

F: We try to stay true to our name – which by the way, comes from “es soez”, “soez” being a synonym for “vulgar.”

N: I was surprised recently by how many people don't realize that about our name. It is a play with words. It can mean “Es soez” (it's vulgar), “Eso es” (that's it!) or “S.O.S.” (distress signal) but the kick comes from it having the word “soez” (for “vulgar”) in it.

F: And vulgarity is relative because the hypocrisy displayed on television is sometimes more vulgar [than our stuff].

GV: What recommendations can you give someone wishing to join Puerto Rico's blogosphere?

N: I don't follow this… but it helps a lot if you establish a constant rhythm for posts. You don't necessarily need to write much, but if you write once a week, you should maintain that rhythm. I don't follow that rule but I know it would increase the traffic Esoez.com receives.

I also recommend being an active participant: reading other blogs and commenting on other posts, because every time you comment on someone else's blog your name becomes a hyperlink to your own blog. Making good use of tools like Twitter and Facebook – and trying to create content that other people would like to share.

You have to engage and try to maintain a conversation, because the blogosphere is another community, very similar to the one on Twitter, and similar to the one on Facebook… At the end of the day you are talking about a group of people who are doing the same thing. And in the blogosphere, everyone shares a similar goal – for the public to read your blog or look at your photographs or your movies, or what not. The most important thing is to comment and participate within that community.

Photo credit: Amarilys Oyola for PuertoRicoIndie.com / Used with permission

GV: Do you have any plans for 2011?

N: We'll keep making posts and cool videos. And collaborations. We've been collaborating with different Internet projects in Puerto Rico during the last few months.

F: We are going to do something. Don't expect something, in case it doesn't get done. But we'll do something. The only thing planned is that we'll meet to talk about what to do. That is a given. I swear that will happen. We are going to have a meeting and talk about what we'll do. That is the only thing I can guarantee.

A longer version of this interview was originally published at PuertoRicoIndie.com: “Conversando con Nerdote y Fetoso de ESOEZ.”

Learn more about Esoez

Blog: www.Esoez.com [NSFW]
Youtube: Esoez TV [NSFW]
Twitter: Nerdote / Fetoso / Fico Fronte [NSFW]

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