Santiago Korovski: "You have to know where to stand to make humor"

“Oh doctor, I don’t know if the stethoscope is too cold or I’m too hot”, says the patient to the surprise of the doctor. It is that the woman went out of hand with the consumption of ecstasy and LSD (among other drugs) and that throws her off the tongue. The strangest thing is not that, actually, but that the lady is over 80 years old. What happened to her is something that the viewer must find out, for now what you need to know is that the transgressions of Palermo Division they shoot in every way, with nothing to stop them. Produced by the production company K & S and put on the air by Netflixthe very independent series created, co-written, co-directed and starring Santiago Korovsky represents the official consecration of this cult comedian, whose name circulated until now as a secret with voices. Jumping straight from the cult to mass popularity, Palermo Division It is, according to Netflix, the most viewed of the platform since it was put on the air. No wonder it’s already been confirmed. a second season.

The Palermo Fiction Division is a pilot project of the Urban Guard of the City of Buenos Aires, destined for tasks as dangerous as crossing old people down the street, watching over the safety of the ducks on the lakes of Palermo or supervising chess matches, which can get violent. The peculiarity of the Palermo Division is its character inclusive. It is made up of, among others, a girl in a wheelchair, a deaf man, a blind man, a trans girl, a fat man and a dwarf, and Felipe (Korovsky) joins her, basically because he doesn’t know what to do with his life. and because he is Jew. Which fits, apparently, as a condition close to disability. “You can make Jewish jokes, because you’re a Jew,” a classmate tells him, in a clear self-reference that works, somehow, like statement by the author.

And dwarfs, fat people, trans and etc. should feel offended? For this there is another self-reference, put into the mouth of the girl in a wheelchair (“Rueditas”), who speaks of Korovsky’s character like this: “I love him because he treats me as an equal.” That seems to be the key: just as it can be “loaded” calmly, it is fully known that you can return it. And here none of the protagonists is allowed to pass over. “Wheels” has a verbal violence to all test, The blind man uses his white cane as a weapon, and watch out for who plays live with Joni, the dwarf. Written by a team of five writers, with five script supervisors and a luxury cast (Daniel Hendler, Pilar Gamboa, Carlos Belloso, Valeria Lois, Marcelo Subiotto, Martín Garabal, Alan Sabagh Fabián Arenillas and Rafael Spregelburd, just to start talking), Palermo Division is the best comedy program in Argentina since Peter Capusotto and his videos left the air

How did the series come to Netflix?

-Three years ago I filmed the trailer for a series that did not exist yet. With that trailer I went out to explore the market and in the end I arranged with K & S, which interested me because it seems to me one of the largest producers in Latin America, and they always take care of the product. They produced the development of the series. I spent a year and a half writing, Netflix joined and I wrote there for another half year.

-It’s a lot two years of writing.

It’s a lot, yes. Luckily K & S had the patience to wait. We were many scriptwriters, too. Those two years are an investment that for me is key.

-Those two years are noted in the result.

-However not everything is script. Later in the filming you have to give a new layer to the script, to the humor, to the acting, to the characters, so that they have a life of their own. But you already have a base, which allows you not to think about how to make people laugh during the shoot. We had to try to give truth to the texts, but the humor was already in the script. That is something that relaxes a lot.

-In addition to the five scriptwriters there is a team of script collaborators, which is not usual.

-Yeah. There’s a girl Lucrecia Gomez, who is in a wheelchair, which helped us a lot with the character of Pilar (Gamboa). We also had Caroline Unrain, who is a writer who helped us with the character of Vivian, the transsexual. Meanwhile, I was having talks on the subject of people with disabilities, of minorities, to be able to understand what those worlds are like, because I have a ignorance of all that. They all the time encouraged us to go to moreto not be solemn, to not fall into positive discrimination, of the style of thinking that these people are all “beings of light” or examples of life. They helped us run away from that place and find characters with contradictions, to be able to laugh at problems that they suffer all the time, which is another way of making visible situations that they are going through. Of course, once we had the actors, they added another layer to the characters, bringing their experience and giving us ideas for the script. That allowed us to give truth and humor to the characters.

-That they all come out very well unemployed. You never make fun of them, except in such a case of the situations they go through.

-Yes, the humor is put in the clumsiness, the prejudices or the ignorance of these people that there are in the society. and in the opportunism of politicians to make changes in form but not in substance, and to do marketing with the theme of inclusion.

-By the way, there is something that perhaps has not been highlighted enough up to now, which is the relationship of the series with reality. There is the security minister, who at one point appears dressed for combat, like a former minister of the Nation, and the very fact that in Buenos Aires there was an Urban Guard that did not prosper, between 2004 and 2008.

-We wanted to try to detach ourselves from party politics. We did not want to specify a specific security force, for example. We are inspired by everything we see around us, including what happens in our environment with the security forces, with politics, but I think it is a transversal view. We try to make humor with social criticism, but without pointing out specific targets. We did research work on different security forces that existed in the country and in other parts of the world, such as urban guards or community police. We investigate what these guards are like, who are mocked not only by the public, who do not fully understand what they are for, but also by the security forces themselves, who are not amused that sometimes they earn more than they do.

-About the police, what reaction does the series produce in members of the division? Because Martín Garabal’s character buys cocaine from a drug trafficker, and deals in stolen auto parts.

-Positive. We go down the street and policemen approach to greet us and take selfies. I was surprised at the reaction they got. It seems to me that this has to do with the fact that the series is not Manichean. Build characters with their own faults and characteristics, no matter how does not have a naive look about the security forces.

-And from the relatives of disabled people?

-The best. I have received emails from all over the world, thanking them for the treatment we give them and indicating that they feel very identified with the situations they live with. Or the disabled people themselves. This is striking because in Argentina we are not used to humor to think of ourselves. We get solemn, we are afraid to laugh at certain issues. It seems to me that the question is to know where to stop to make humor. One thing is what a character thinks, says or does and another is what the series thinks. Humor is often taken quite literally. I don’t believe in that sentence that says “Today you can’t make humor out of anything”. You have to get advice, know the ground where you stand, and also take humor as a tool for reflection.

-Did you ever hesitate to include something that could be irritating?

-What was left out were things that were not good, they were not funny. We thought that the jokes we made were correct, we had checked with our advisors, some had even been written by them. But if they weren’t funny they were left out.

-It gives the impression that the series has a lot of influences. Which ones can you mention?

-We basically wanted to do something like a cross between The office and The Untouchables, in the sense that the policemen of The Untouchables they are also a kind of outcast, toads from another well within the institution. And there is also the series Barry, which is a comedy starring a contract killer, which combines comedy with a lot of blood. And then many police comedies, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine either reindeer-911of which I asked the actors to see certain scenes or fragments. I wanted violence not to beat humor, and that is something that was very complex for us.

-It is that if there is something that is not a joke it is to make comedy.

-No, of course, it is difficult to find the tone, the right measure. Plus it’s not funny. It’s work. At times one laughs and enjoys, but it is a job like any other.

-The series is co-directed by you and by Diego Núñez Irigoyen. How were the roles distributed?

-Diego is a person with a lot of experience, he has several shorts and a lot of advertisements, and he seemed like the right person to me, because knows how to film humor without it showing all the time that the actors want to be comedians. On the other hand, as the creator of the series, I had to take care of a lot of things, apart from acting, so I couldn’t also add directing, which requires a lot of work. That’s why I was basically in charge of directing the actors, and Diego of the general staging.

-About the direction of actors, it is one of the most outstanding items, the entire cast is sensational. There is a particularly notable issue, which is the way in which he reconciles the different tones that the characters require.

-There is something general, which is that humor tries to have a truth without enunciating itself as a comedy performance, to also try to make the police work work, the drama work… There are moments where the performance grows in intensity, or more intense characters like Sofía, the girl in a wheelchair, who break with that tone dead panof deliberately inexpressive comedy, so that the thing does not fall into monotony.

-Did you find it difficult to reconcile those different tones?

-For me it was a challenge to direct so many great actors, and also with a different background and background. had to understand that each one resonates with different strategies, the same indication does not work the same for each actor. It was trial and error for me, to understand which indication was suitable for each one. And it was more difficult because being an actor myself, while I was acting I suddenly saw something in someone else that seemed to require adjustment, for which I was forced to act and think at the same time.

-And the integration of professional actors with amateurs?

They’re not amateurs, really. They may be less experienced, but all of them had done something. They are tremendously talented. We first worked with them with Nora Moseinco, who was my teacher, prior to shooting.

-There is a level of obsessiveness in the series that suggests that the acting rehearsals will have been long.

-No, normal. At least for the standard of the series, in one of those in the cinema they are longer. As the cast is made up of many actors, what I did was meet each one once, two or three times. The rest we found on the set, with the passing of the shots and the weeks. Because sometimes I am not exactly clear about what I need, so it is a job of search. I ask for one thing and suddenly after a while I ask for something else. Sometimes the actors make fun of me a bit for that. It’s just that I’m trying to find a tone that suits the joke better, or the actor, and that takes some searching.

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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