A staple of every Cuban household was at least one Alvarez Guedes record. We had five. And my parents would play them all back-to-back. My dad on his chair, my mom sprawled out on the couch and I would watch them bend at the waist and laugh as they listened. I’d laugh too. Not at Alvarez Guedes’ jokes. I didn’t really get them. But, I’d laugh at the way my parents would burst out in cackles and tear up from the giggle attacks. My mom would laugh and clap at the same time, while my dad would repeat the punch line. If it was really funny, he wouldn’t make a sound, he’d just hold his eyes with his thumb and pointer finger, while his shoulders jiggled up and down.
I recently found those five records, among my parents’ record collection that I confiscated from my mom’s storage closet. When I returned to my apartment I too listened to them back-to-back. I finally understood the jokes and I found myself laughing out loud.
But, I still think it was much funnier to watch my parents laugh.
For those of you that don’t know him, Alvarez Guedes is a Cuban comedian with the meanest 1970’s mustache you’ve ever seen. Here’s a clip:
Oh, and if you need an English translation, here’s Alvarez Guedes’ famous Cuban-Spanish Lesson. (It starts at 1:30)