Pop quiz: What Mexican movie franchise has spawned more sequels than X-Men?
If you guessed La Risa en Vacaciones, you are correct (and probably grew up watching Univisión). If on the other hand you were expecting us to say something like El Santo, well you’re technically right too, but only technically.
With a total of 9 glorious installments, La Risa En Vacaciones was a series of proto-Punk’d-meets-Jackass feature films that doubtless helped a lot of people laugh their way through the depressing Ronald Reagan/Carlos Salinas years of the late 80s. Focusing their irreverent pranks on classic Mexican resort towns such as Acapulco, Cancún, and Cabo San Lucas, La Risa en Vacaciones took on timeless comedic themes of Gringo tourists, chicas en bikinis, and creepy stalkers with such unapologetic bad taste that you can’t help but laugh your culo off. Throw in about 12 tons of hairspray, a lot of neon spandex, and some rhinestones for good measure, and you have a recipe for a perfect nostalgia fest.
Following the exploits of three actor-pranksters identified only as “Pedro”, “Pablo” and “Paco,” La Risa en Vacaciones was an international phenomenon at the time of its release. Whether the pranks were actually real, however, is a matter of heated internet debate, though it seems to this day the producers stick by their guns in defending the show’s veracity. A finely tuned eye and ear, however, will find it hard to ignore the multiple camera angles and perfectly recorded location sound that don’t tend to accompany this sort of hidden-camera setup. Yet even those unfamiliar with the technical side of filming will find it hard to believe these guys didn’t get their faces knocked in for some of these jokes.
Here’s one of our personal favorite clips from the show: a Happy Feet meets lucha libre, nun-on-nun free-for-all in front of a gaggle of stunned tourists (or poorly paid extras) whose beachside lounging is abruptly interrupted. Putting myself in their shoes, I don’t think I would do much more than look on with morbid fascination as the two squads of rival nuns throw down and tear up habits in the name of holy charity.
And here’s one particularly corny clip that catches two American tourists reacting after seeing their mugshots on a beachside bar television. After the wife — and alleged transvestite — rather unconvincingly mouths, “That’s us!” the couple takes off at a noticeably relaxed pace, making sure not to bump into a police officer on their way out.
La Risa en Vacaciones’ catalog is sadly not on Netflix, but thanks to the generosity of unknown piraters, you find many of them, in their in their entirety, on YouTube. In part 1, the very first prank sets the tone for the movie, preparing you for some hilarious and wonderfully perverted antics. An unsuspecting older guy is using the public bathroom at a park when a woman walks in and stands at the urinal next to him. She slowly lifts her white ruffled dress and starts to pee in the urinal (he doesn’t know that she has a tube filled with water under her dress). After a couple of double takes, he slowly backs away from her and runs out of bathroom, completely horrified. And so goes the rest of the film. After watching the original, you have to move on to the sequels. It’s Mexican humor at its best: ridiculous, pervy, slapstick, and sometimes totally over-the-top but always highly entertaining.