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An Argentinian comedy-musical group that's internationally popular in Spanish-speaking countries. In Argentina it's equivalent to Monty Python for its absurd humor and quotability. No relation to Superman's arch-nemesis.
The closest thing to this in the USA is PDQ Bach.
In case you were wondering, their name is not Spanish; it's French.
- Carlos López Puccio: Violin, keyboards, percussion, viola, cello, vocals, bass, etc.
- Jorge Maronna: Guitar, cello, bass, double-bass, percussion, vocals, keyboards, etc.
- Marcos Mundstock: Percussion, keyboards, trumpet, vocals, etc.
- Carlos Núñez Cortés: Piano, keyboards, recorder, percussion, vocals, etc.
- Daniel Rabinovich: Guitar, violin, bass-pipe, drums, recorder, vocals, bass, keyboards, etc
- Gerardo Masana (1967-1973): Bass-pipe, guitar, percussion, etc.
- Ernesto Acher (1971-1986): Piano, gom-horn, clarinet, percussion, cello, trombone, recorder, etc.
That "etc" includes a wild range of "informal instruments" made by themselves, hence the name (a luthier is a maker of stringed instruments).
For those who don't speak Spanish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7syv95rwXE
The first sketch of them that I ever saw, is in Spanish but the second part is quite visual; it is the music of the trailer of a film called The Mysterious Murderer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuTYdXF6_vk
A silent sketch about a silent movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLW-oRP5M7U
This provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: Occasional. For instance, Carlos Núñez Cortés sometimes 'plays' a concert pianist (which he is in 'real life' [aka life outside the group]) in the sketches. His less-than-desirable ability on guitar is also referenced in one number as well. And then again, jokes are made about Marcos Mundstock's age and Carlos López Puccio's white hair sometimes. Jorge Maronna's character in 'Bossa lividinosa' is called 'Jorginho da Bahia... da Bahia Blanca" (Bahía is a Brazilian town; Bahía Blanca is the Argentine town where Maronna was born).
- Affectionate Parody: More than half of they work are parodies of musical genres and tropes, specially classical music.
- Alliterative Name: All the jazz songs. (Papa Garland had a hat and a jazz band and a mat and a black fat cat (Rag), Pepper Clemens sent the messenger: nevertheless the reverend left the herd (Ten Step), Miss Lilly Higgins sings shimmy in Mississippi's spring (Shimmy), Doctor Bob Gordon shops hot dogs from Boston (Foxtrot), Truthful Lulu pulls thru zulus (Blus))
- Anti-Love Song: Don't worry, someone more handsome will rape you just as one of the examples.
- Appeal to Vanity: Wonderfully, wonderfully subverted in "Jingle Bass Pipe": "You, who are used to success as just one more habit of life... You, who succeed with the same ease in business and in the most exclusive sports... You, who are used to being respected by men and admired by women... You... can you tell us how you do it?".
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Usually subverted, as theirs are mostly actual texts in French, German, Italian, etc. However, there's a straight example from 1971: during a tea ceremony ('Los noticiarios cinematográficos'), the 'alto ambassador' (named Yoko-Hito, who knows why?) sings the following 'Japanese' lyrics: 'Sokiaki, Ho Chi Min, Yoko Ono, Mao Tsé Tsung, Tintenkuli, Chinchulín, Guanban, Chop Suey!'. When they recorded it two years later, they changed it by 'Ikebana, chow en lai, harakiri, tobogán, camiseta, chimpancé, panzón; Mata Hari, salpicón, Honolulu, Tucumán, Walky Talkie, chimpancé, ping pong. Neuquén; Champiñón'.
- The lyrics of "Oi gadôñaya" (http://www.icsi.berkeley.edu/~chema/luthiers/021.html) take it Up to Eleven. Samples of the Russian-sounding song include the title (Which is actually "Oiga Doña Ya" - "Lady listen now") and the jewel near the end: "Long live to Czar Nikolaievich! Let us all go to a Miami Beach!".
- Banana Republic: La República de Banania (well, duh) and Feudalia.
- Bilingual Bonus: Some of the background songs that are on another languages are actual songs in English, German, Italian, etc.
- Not to mention a language Marcos Mundstock invented himself: 'Gulevache'.
- Canis Latinicus: 'Gloria', which is presented as an attempt by Johann Sebastian Mastropiero to make a religious sounding song just by putting latin words - or latin-sounding words - is this. And the result is hilarious - because he had made the adaptation for the song from a tango about meeting a woman, going to a date with her and having sex with her several times.
- The Cast Showoff: Well... obviously, as they're all musicians and actors. However, there are some cases worth noting:
- In 1996 - 1999, there was a sketch concerning Daniel Rabinovich working at a 'Suicidal Assistance Centre'. Part of his job consisted of sorting out legal issues with the potential suicide, which he did perfectly, as if he were an actual certified lawyer. Well... he is!
- Though all five (in other times, six or even seven) of them can play piano well, one of them (Carlos Núñez Cortés) is a professional concert pianist, which has been used several times for mock concerti or otherwise elaborate piano parts with or without built-in comedy elements.
- 'Pepper Clemens sent the messenger, nevertheless the reverend left the herd' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTL 2 lbd MQXU) - It includes 5 minutes of hilarious acting followed by 7 minutes of the cast playing all sorts of instruments many of which are informal.
- The Coconut Effect: Parodied on The Mysterious Murderer routine where they make the foley of the film trailer.
- Completely Missing the Point: Many of their sketches are like that.
- The Ur Example in Unen Canto con Humor:
Marcos Mundstock: The dance muse is Terpsícore.
Daniel Rabinovich: Who?
Marcos: Doctor, don't you tell me you don't know who is Terpsícore...
Daniel: Not by name, maybe if I see her... Esther Píscore, who is she? No, I don't know who she is. No, no, I'd remind her, I have good memory for that kind of... Esther Píscore, how is she? Is she nice? Well, I don't care for... Is she hot? I say... Esther Píscore. With a name like that, she surely is well known, no? Esther Píscore, ha ha, Esther Píscore is here.
- And it gets worse.
- Continuity Nod: Mastropiero, the jazz pieces with only one vowel, a Huesito William's melody reappearing for fellow singer-songwriter Manuel Darío, Laxatón (the product, not the Cantata) referenced several years later in 1971, the glamocot being used for 'lust' scenes after its original role as 'Oso libidinoso' (e.g. 'Wildstone' [a college couple going to the bedroom] and 'Princesa Caprichosa').
- Creative Differences: Ernesto Acher. (He preferred to emphasize music over humor, the exact opposite of the group's preference.)
- However, he was an excellent actor.
- He IS an excellent actor.
- On a different (although sometimes related) note, many of their sketches have been 'killed' after a year or two because some of the members don't like them. That was the case, for instance, of 'La gallina dijo "Eureka"', very popular with the audience, but reportedly disliked by most of the group. It was only performed in 1979 and 1980 and never used as encore or in any of the several anthologies they've done. The fact its protagonist (and allegedly the only one who actually liked the sketch) quit the group in '86 doesn't help either...
- However, he was an excellent actor.
- Culture Police: Hinted on the Bananian Act routine. Since the most popular children's tales on Banania is "Once upon a time they lived happily ever after".
- Delusions of Eloquence: Usually Rabinovich.
- The Ditz: It's usually Daniel Rabinovitch but sometimes this is also the role of Carlos López Puccio.
- Either World Domination or Something About Bananas: The last part of the Radio Tertulia routine where the Argentine interviewers try to understand the British band London Inspection. (And they fail miserably.)
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Subverted with one of the owners of Thompson & Company, the late Mr. Henry Company (on the Quartet for Quintet).
- Everything Is an Instrument: That's what the group is about... well, partly.
- Far East: The Half-Eastern Sonata.
- Fictional Document: Too many to count.
- Foreshadowing: Common in their early shows - a member went in 'too soon' and played excerpts from a piece (usually the last or second last in the set) before being cut off by his mates. By the time they did play the piece in question, the audience was already familiar with it (which worked very well).
- Fun with Acronyms: The Commision for Perpetual Mantainance and Updating of the Song "Fatherland" (the national anthem). The fun part? they bother to pronounce CPMUOTSF with varying results (mostly wet).
- Groin Attack: Many times, usually self-inflicted. Kathy, La Reina del Saloon being the most hilarious and famous example.
- Happily Married: In real life, five of the members (past and present) have undergone (sometimes messy) divorces and re-married. Founder Gerardo Masana was married, literally, until death did them part, and Daniel Rabinovich has remained with his first and only wife for decades.
- Hypocritical Humor: Complaining about today's young people: 'they've got no ideology - because they do drugs; they only care about the bike and the car - because they do drugs; they dance all day long - because they do drugs; and they make love all night long - which drug do they do?'.
- Hurricane of Puns: Too many to count.
- I Am Not Spock: Though moderately successful as an orchestral conductor and arranger, Ernesto Acher still faces being typecast as a former member of Les Luthiers even though he hasn't been with them for over 24 years. Moreover, he tends to be remembered mostly as the actor who played "Don Rodrigo" and the kid from "La Gallina Dijo Eureka", which overlooks his enormous musical contributions to the group (a group that still plays several of his songs, by the way). When Marcos Mundstock has tried to have parallel stints as a serious presenter, he's failed miserably as people expect jokes to appear.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Marcos Mundstock does it relatively often, acknowledging the audience's laughter or the occasional technical failures, as the shows are performed live. For instance, on one sketch he acted as therapist and there were some noises from the mics, he incorporated them to his counselling ("I know you feel disturbed, as if there were strange noises in the background"), receiving a well-deserved ovation from the public.
- Limited Wardrobe: The only thing they wear on they shows are tuxedos, as any classical musician will do in a concert.
- Literary Agent Hypothesis: Anything related to the convoluted life of Johann Sebastian Mastropiero. It's unknown when he died, or even if he actually died.
- Long Runners: Celebrated their 40 anniversary in 2007.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: In Lutherapia, It turns out Ramirez was Mastropiero's son (and brother to the Anti-Christ) and that was the reason of his stress .
- Lyrical Dissonance
- Mother-Daughter Threesome: Taken Up to Eleven and Played for Laughs:
Mastropiero was an intimate friend of the Duchess of Lowbridge, mature woman whose charms had not diminished with the years... they had disappeared completely. Mastropiero feigned a fiery passion for the Duchess, but behind her back he was seducing her daughter, Genevieve. Thus he could enter the castle freely... to meet her granddaughter, Mathilde. This game of gallant pretenses gave excellent results. It was not the first time this system was used... by the three women.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: on Himnovaciones and Acto en Banania.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: General Eutanasio Rodriguez and Escipion the Blood-Thirsty Killer.
- No Longer with Us: "Huesito Williams has left us... it's hard to believe his seat remains empty. But he's in a better place. He lives... in Normandy Hotel, Miami."
- Promoted Fanboy: More often than one would think. They started off being four plus their 'luthier's luthier' (not officially a member). Then:
- Carlos Núñez Cortés, former groupmate in another music/humour team and longtime admirer of them, was called in 1969 to be their rehearsal conductor. He was then promoted to co-arranger, co-composer, co-performer and finally fellow member.
- Later on in 1970, Carlos López Puccio was promoted from fan to friend/consultant and then, due to a last-minute emergency (the violinist they hired quit), he was called in to step in as guest musician for a full season. Not only he learnt the repertoire in a day: the group members were so impressed that they made him partner in 1971.
- Ernesto Acher had seen Les Luthiers live and admired them deeply. He befriended them one summer and soon afterwards was invited to be a guest at one of their shows; later on, he became a hired musician / presenter / composer and finally (in 1971 as well as López Puccio) made partner. He'd continue with them until 1986.
- When their luthier's luthier, Carlos Iraldi, passed away, fellow instrument maker Hugo Domínguez, who'd admired the group for a while, wrote a letter offering his services. He's been their luthier's luthier since.
- For the last 15 years or so, they've hired understudies, who replace one of the members in case of disease or emergency. They've got a very tough job as they need to learn every vocal and instrumental part each member does just in case, but it's not quite a struggle as most of them have been people who actually grew up listening to Les Luthiers.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: What happens whenever Rabinovich tries to perform the opening monologue.
- Ruritania: Gulevandia. Set of the opera on fictional language Cardoso en Gulevandia.
- Secret Relationship: Mastropiero with many women.
- Self-Deprecation: In a way... the sketches are usually introduced as being horrendous and their fictional composer (usually Mastropiero) as mediocre, at best.
- Sitting Sexy on a Piano: In one of the backstories, a girl called Hanriette does this while Mastropiero plays the piano and her mother watches.
Marcos Mundstock: Hanriette, luckily for her, was deaf. And the mother, luckily for Mastropiero, was blind.
- Small Reference Pools: Too many to count, specially on their earlier era.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: Johann Sebastian Mastropiero. Who sometimes was called Wolfgang Amadeus Mastropiero and Petrov Ilich Mastropiero.
- Strawman U: The Wildstone University routine. A commercial of a college on the United States so lame that party and fun isn't less important than study (it's are more important); and the alumni are described as "stupid, idiot and criminal students" by the dean (though the supposed Spanish dubbing calls them crafty and mischievous students instead).
- Subverted Kids Show: Theresa & The Bear, a subverted children's song on the same vein that Peter and The Wolf.
- Also, in Mastropiero Awards, the adult children music comedy Valdemar and the sorcerer.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion
- Sue Donym: Mastropiero with Johann Severo Mastropiano. Getting his father this letter "My child, if you use that pseudonym everyone will know that I am not just the father of a composer, but also the father of an imbecile".
- Synthesizeritis: They introduced them in 1979, and they eventually almost vanished their trademark "informal instruments" from long parts of the shows. Often used together with pre-recorded MIDI tracks.
- This Is My Name on Foreign: All the illegitimate children of composer Johann Sebastian Mastropiero with the contessa Shortshot were translations of Shortshot in different languages: Patrick McKleinschuss, Giovanni Colpocorto, Rafael Brevetiro, Mario Abraham Kortzclap, Anatole Tirecourt, Johnny Littlebang.
- This Is Sparta: Parodied several times. On the song of the 7th platoon, General Archibald Weaving declares: "If we don't Win, we have lost" and "The eagle's feather won't be an oil drop" that same afternoon he is taken to a mental institution.
- The Voiceless: López Puccio on Tom Mc Coffee'. Except for "vaya vaya" (which can either mean "go away" or "wow" depending on the tone).
- Trailers Always Spoil: The Mysterious Murderer routine.
- Unusual Euphemism : Kids these days, they only need chatter to reach Erasmus
- Why Didn't You Just Say So?: The Nuits De Paris routine. Whereas the whole group tries to comunicate with a famous French singer...'s brother-in-law in French and happens to be that he could speak Spanish all along.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: In this case Spanish, played both straight and subverted.