Fred Armisen Talks Bringing Latino Comedy to the Mainstream With Launch of Más Mejor

'Portlandia' photo by Augusta Quirk. Courtesy of IFC

Some people just get it, and others miss. For all the crap we give him for not having any sort of Latino representation on Saturday Night Live and for letting that red-haired ignorant fool running for the highest office in our country host, Lorne Michaels gets it. He gets business, he gets comedy, and finally he gets us. Today, Michaels’ media company, Broadway Video launched Más Mejor, a premium digital comedy content studio powered by Latino voices. What does “powered by Latino voices” mean, exactly? It means that all content and at all stages — from writing to its completion — is actually created by Latinos, by funny Latinos. Not by some gringo sitting in a network’s writing room pitching jokes for a Latino actor based on what his grandfather told him about West Side Story. Más Mejor promises “more stories, more better.” Seriously, that’s the platform’s tagline.

How are they going to do that exactly? By uploading weekly content that includes topical sketches, political satire, and original web videos that refrain from pandering to Latinos (take a cue Hillary) but are instead reflective of the creator’s own experience. Does that include sketches in Spanish? Yes, it does. Oh, and did I mention that the talent is led by Fred Armisen and Horatio Sanz? (Armisen’s mother is Venezuelan and Sanz was born in Chile.) Killer, I know.

In addition to the former SNL alums, as of launch, the Más Mejor team is comprised of 26 Latinos including refreshingly odd ducks like Julio Torres and Melissa Villaseñor. Mexico City’s What a Bear Productions and Lemon Films (Casa de mi Padre) are producing and talent sourcing partners while NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, POPSUGAR Latina, and Batanga Media are distribution partners. The videos will also be available on their website and YouTube channel.

Earlier today, I got the opportunity to chat with The Flaming Lips almost singer, Fred Armisen. I confess I had to take an early yoga class to get my chill on because my excitment was on Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt level. We talked about Más Mejor, Los Angeles, and would happen if our favorite bookstore owners opened up shop in East L.A.

On How He Got Involved With Más Mejor

“I had wanted to do something in Spanish for a really long time, and so when Britta von Schoeler (Broadway Video’s president) talked to me about Más Mejor, I could not say yes fast enough. So, yes, I just wanted to curate content and connect with comedians and the sooner the better.”

On Choosing Más Mejor’s Name

“When it got to me I think it was narrowed down to two or three options and this one was simpler. It also looks nicer, with the two Ms together. And it was not like a honky comedy name.”

Fred Armisen in ‘Portlandia’
Read more

On The Misconceptions About Latino Audiences

Without a hint of anger or resentment Armisen says that a common response to comedy pitches involving Latinos is that, “The Latino community only likes a certain type of comedy.” His response to that was, “Wait, what? Who says that? No, let’s change that. Let’s work hard and make great content, great content that challenges that.”

On What to Expect From Más Mejor’s Content

Armisen turned me on to Andy Kauffman’s Mighty Mouse, and I asked if we could expect that type of content from Más Mejor. He responded, “Yes. Anything can happen. We just want it to grow. Hopefully just more of it.”

On Living in Los Angeles

“I love L.A. There are so many moments that make you go, ‘aaah, this is so nice.’ Like when you’re driving at night and you suddenly notice the city is lit up. The other day I was driving through Echo Park and I got on this little street and I saw a bunch of cars, with East L.A. dudes all in baseball caps circling their cars around making them blow white smoke, like that was all they were doing. They were just going around like ‘woooosh,’ it was cool.”

On Portlandia‘s Candace and Toni Opening a Feminist Bookstore in East LA

“I think they would go there and be like, ‘We need to open up a store here. This is where we should be.’ And then be terrified and defensive. They would have that mix of wanting things to be a certain way but also being terrified, so they’d open up a store and only order delivery and never let anyone in.”

On Making Latino Comedy That Isn’t About Being Latino

When I likened Más Mejor to The Mindy Project in the sense that both feature minorities but aren’t about race, just about solid comedic content, Armisen agreed. In fact he said, “That’s exactly it. I gotta remember that for future interviews. I’m going to steal that.” At which point my cheeks broke apart from having never smiled so wide.