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Friday, August 12, 2022

Arturo Valls goes from moderator to prisoner because he pushed the boundaries of humor in “Two Years and a Day”.

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What comedian Henar Álvarez experienced less than a month ago was almost a premonition. He was in the middle of presenting the main LGTBI+ event in Extremadura when a joke about his former mayor, Miguel Celdrán, who died 11 years ago, drew complaints from the public and the city council. In his case, the consistory appreciated that his words “remained an anecdote because, regrettably or not, they lacked relevance and path”. The new fiction proposal with Arturo Valls goes one step further, Two years and a day. In this situation comedy directed by Ernesto Sevilla and Raúl Navarro from Albacete, Valls plays a version of himself under the name Carlos Ferrer: the most popular presenter in Spain and the one most loved by viewers. But in this fiction signed by LaCoproductora and premiered on Atresplayer on July 3rd, its protagonist is sentenced to prison for a hoax.

The series was written by Raúl Navarro, Miguel Esteban, Sergio Sarriá and Luismi Pérez, from whose minds works such as the queen of the people, The neighbor either the end of the comedy. And the conflict they are now recounting serves as a starting point to bring several issues to the table: the limits of humor, the right to feel offended, the culture of rejection, popularity, and the power of fame or self-acceptance. While going beyond what opinion can be held about it, the series espouses entertainment rather than intelligent debate. “It is true that in Spain we have had some cases and these restrictions on freedom of expression are a problem that exists,” explains Navarro on the phone, “here we know that there are musicians, comedians, people who are judged and even imprisoned on freedom of speech issues. But it’s true that in the show it’s just a starting point, the show isn’t really about that. It’s an issue he brings up early and late in the season, but the rest of the time it’s a sitcom Prison, a funny choral comedy that goes in other directions”.

When the format was sketched, series such as The office, parks and recreation either community,”very crazy comedies where each episode can have a very different tone“, Seville account; but most of all it was a bit inspiring Brooklyn Nine-Nine that take place in prison. The idea was to make one sitcom Prison away from realism, with some painterly side effects that feed the stories that unfold inside, which could last for several seasons. All, the directors say, “to avoid the light and recurring humor” usually associated with prisons. And just like in office Dunder Mifflin has Michael Scott, or the town of Pawnee has Leslie Knope Parks and Recreationthis prison needed its central axis.

The secondary characters are responsible for tending to the plots within the prison.

From hero to villain

For the lead role and to reinforce the duality of imprisonment, they knew they wanted to base themselves on the character of someone who never got into trouble and who was loved by the public, like Roberto Leal or Karlos Arguiñano, whom their creators They give real life examples. Although they admit the script was written with Arturo Valls in mind, whom they always had their eye on. Not only for his background as a presenter that met the requirements, but also for his facet as an actor, which she already knows well, having collapsed in works like the recent ones Camera Cafe: The Film. “Although his name is Carlos Ferrer, he is still very similar to Arturo Valls. But the character has one fundamental difference from Arturo Valls and that is that he wears glasses. It was his way of separating the character and the person, like Clark Kent and Superman,” jokes Navarro, “he thought no one would recognize him with the glasses on.”

Also Arturo Valls, who feels comfortable in the comedy, appreciates the drama that the series shows at certain moments, a challenge on an interpretive level that he wants to deal with more from time to time. But he also admits that what he wanted most was to relax from the daily programs, such as Now I’m fallingto which he devoted too many hours to fully concentrate on other projects: “I used to take advantage of the breaks in the recordings of Now I’m falling to convince a cameraman to call an actor for something, to take care of the financing of a project. That leaves you enjoying neither one nor the other. Now I’m getting involved and I’m having a much better time doing what I do.”

Arturo Valls surrounded by Fernando Gil and Javier Botet, two of the series' supporting characters.
Arturo Valls surrounded by Fernando Gil and Javier Botet, two of the series’ supporting characters.

The actor feels “lucky” to have never been involved in a similar situation. But he makes it clear that if he suffers from it, he wouldn’t hesitate to “ask for forgiveness and move on, even considering that, paradoxically, the same joke could be a palliative for many people.” Does this mean humor is subject to self-censorship? Valls is blunt: “Not at all. There are jokes that were funny 10 years ago that aren’t funny today. And you don’t have to stop because of an imposed censorship, but because society has changed and the comedian has to keep up with that development.” And as he develops further, the actor is keeping his fingers crossed that he remains closer to Arturo Valls can as Carlos Ferrer.

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