by Isabel Cristina
Raymond Pozo and Miguel Céspedes were, and still are, staples of the comedy scene in the Dominican Republic. The duo have been performing together and independently for 25 years. From night clubs and small town gigs to sold out comedy tours and movies, their hard work and commitment to the Dominican community was honored at this year’s Dominican Day Parade.
Speaking with them early in the morning of Friday, August 10th, as they made their way from one interview to the next, I was reminded of seeing them everyday as they joined my family through our clunky Toshiba television. As a little girl, I thought they were famous because they were on TV, but in my small impoverished neighborhood in Santo Domingo, these men were idols and as they talked openly about poverty, class, and family structures. Before the interview, I confessed I was a bit nervous, but they gave me encouragement and reminded me that fear benefits no one.
In all honesty, Dominican comedy has not always been so light and bright. There have been instances of blackface, misogyny, and violence — instances that require articles of their own. And then there is Raymond and Miguel, both dedicated to performing without using vulgarities and profanities to create a show that is fun for the entire family to watch.
Raymond and Miguel attribute the success of their characters and comedy to their authenticity. “Nosotros venimos de las entrañas del pueblo,” said Raymond, we come from the heart of the people. On their show, those who were usually pushed onto the sidelines of society were given a platform through their characters. El motoconcho could express openly his frustrations towards his passengers, the underpaid general jokes of the corruption in his country, and the poor were out of the barrios and into daytime television. They showed me that our voices mattered and representation is important.
On their new series, “Las Vacaciones de los Reyes,” Raymond and Miguel try to escape their daily lives in a luxurious hotel by the beach. Instead, they find themselves face to face with the names that have brought them fame. Characters like El Cabo, El You, and El moreno. This Sunday their show will premiere in the United States through Television Dominicana.
Watching their performance now, I will do so not as the wide-eyed little girl but as an informed woman who understands that representation does matter, and that it can be as powerful in representing the Dominican experience.
You can watch the new season tonight at 9pm ET on the following channels: Spectrum (channel 872), Optimum (channel 1029) and Verizon FiOS (channel 1506).
Isabel Cristina is a Family Planning Health educator who is currently working in the South Bronx. She is passionate about advocating for patients rights and promoting health literacy for patients and students. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the City College of New York. She is a lover of books and an aspiring writer, who writes stories inspired by the Dominican diaspora. Having emigrated from the Dominican Republic as a young girl, the process of immigration and her memories of the homeland inspire her writing. She is a firm believer in creating safe spaces where women could come together, organize, share stories, and empower one another.