Arturo Castro appears on Comedy Central’s Broad City as Jaime. He is co-creator of the web series 2040 and he’s developing a show—Alternatino—that’s going to start shooting in July.
When I skyped with him last week, Arturo was in Atlanta, GA. His head was shaved to play the role of a military man in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, based on the novel by Ben Fountain.
First he showed me the apartment they’d hooked him up with during the shoot and the view from his balcony. After only a few minutes, it became clear I’d have to scrap my question about how he stays grounded; he was already talking about his bottomless gratitude to the Broad City creators. (“I know I say this all the time, but I can’t stop saying it: Abbi and Ilana pointed at me and then the rest of the world started paying attention. I will never be able to repay what they have done for me. Like, I’m in Atlanta shooting the new Ang Lee film, man. How crazy.”)
Here is the first part of our conversation—click here for the second installment.
Hip Latina: I was talking to my friend, an aspiring comedian. I was like, “You know that he’s not gay, and that he doesn’t have any kind of accent, right?” I think she was disappointed.
Arturo Castro: Sorry, yeah. People get disappointed that I don’t sell weed either. Guess it’s one of those things that I’m going to have to live with.
HL: I heard that people come up to you and ask you to sell them stuff?
AC: This dude was like, “Hey man, so you know where I can score some weed?” I was like, “No.” He walked away super disappointed. I’m just playing a character, dude!
But yeah, Jaime is based on Abbi’s best friend. He’s a really sweet guy.
HL: Yeah. The namaste!
AC: I’ve actually adopted the namaste in my real life. I met Jon Hamm yesterday—it was random, I was just at a dinner and I met him. As he was leaving, I was like, “Alright, great, great, namaste.”
HL: [laughs] I did the namaste again.
AC: There’s no way to stop this.
HL: So, tell me about where Alternatino came from and what it is.
AC: Well, my girlfriend’s French and my group of friends in New York is varied. One thing we all have in common is what we laugh at. When I was telling them what we grew up on in Latin America, you know, Chespirito, Walter Mercado—I don’t know if you know Walter Mercado—
AC: You have to Google Walter Mercado! He’s like the funniest astrologist you’ve ever seen. He takes himself completely seriously. He’s got this blonde wig on, and he’s dressed in like these silk robes and he’s giving you your astrology, but—behind him, there are pictures of himself in the same outfit looking mystical.
HL: Oh my god, yes.
AC: I remember, even as a kid, just being like, this is…hilarious.
I’ve gotten to know mainstream American comedy a little bit. There’s not really that much different. What I want to do with Alternatino is use some of the stereotypes people have to our advantage, just play them up and see how ridiculous they actually seem. Also, show a side of these random people that just happen to be Latin, a new generation of us—alternative Latinos.
HL: So you’re going to juxtapose the stereotype with the non-stereotype.
AC: I’m just trying to take what we laughed at in Latin America and give it a kind of Brooklyn Millennial feel, introduce it over to mainstream. There are too many shows about what makes us different. But there’s not a lot of shows about what makes us the same. I think Alternatino is going to be, hopefully, the source for Latinos to be like, “Oh sweet, that’s mine, I totally relate to that.” And people who didn’t grow up with that culture being like, “Oh that’s really funny, I want to know more about it.”
I’ve always found that the easiest way to get into people’s hearts is through comedy.
Especially in the Latin American world. Guatemala is such a dangerous place. It’s such a small place that tragedy happens very close to you. And people find a way to laugh the next day, go back to work. There’s this ever-prevailing sense of, like, things are f*&$%d but we’re okay.
[Check out part two of the Arturo Castro interview!]