Carlos Latre (Castellón de la Plana, 1979) had a dream when he was little: to make a living from humor. And he’s undoubtedly achieved that. Thanks to a “special quirk” in his throat discovered by his speech therapist, he’s become one of Spain’s top comedians and impersonators. He started out at the age of 19, and nearly 20 years on the success keeps rolling in. So what’s his secret? He tells us now…
How did you end up becoming a comedian?
Ever since I was really little, I knew I liked to parody the people around me. When I was 15, I signed up for an impersonation contest and my friends and I won with a sendup of the Spice Girls. That was when I thought maybe my dream of being a journalist or broadcaster could be possible. After that came radio, where I started out as an announcer, and then I got into the TV world.
What was it like when you started out?
Working, spending lots of hours on the radio, making demos to show big broadcasters, and dreaming of being able to make people laugh one day. The truth is I got lucky. I was, as they say, in the right place at the right time… But I put a lot of work into it.
Ever since you were little, did you think you’d end up living off humor?
It was my dream, yes. I always said I would have liked to have been a correspondent, but my goals were always humor and communicating to others with my view of reality.
What was your first impersonation?
I started off impersonating other impersonators who were my idols at that time: Cruz y Raya, Alfonso Arús, Martes y Trece. I also did cartoon characters and big voices (that were being impersonated at the time), like Fraga, Alfonso Guerra, José María García…
Is it an innate talent? I know it’s something you can work on…
Many years ago, my speech therapist discovered that I have a special “quirk” in my throat and vocal cords. But it’s just that: Something that sets you apart that you have to work on really hard to be able to get to where you always wanted to be. It’s a lot of work. Hours practicing in front of a mirror, studying English, singing, dancing, interpreting, musicals… Writing and rewriting scripts and always being in touch with current events.
Which character has been most difficult for you to imitate?
I always say that Boris Izaguirre is one of my greatest achievements. His voice has lots of different distinctive elements: well-toned but sharp, with deep notes and very sing-song… Working alongside him for more than six years helped me get it. I think it’s one of the ones that people most identify me with.
Is there something you just can’t get? And something you have more fun with?
Sure, of course. I still have a hard time with a lot of women. Softer voices are more complicated for me, since I’m starting off with a deeper tone. But I look for other facial, body, or expressive characteristics that remind the viewers of what they most identify with that character… I have a lot of fun with all of them. Each one’s had its moment, but I won’t forget the good times I’ve had with [characters like] La Pantoja de Puerto Rico, Bea the intern, “papuchi,” the King of Spain…
You’ve spent a whole lifetime on TV. How do you manage to stay on top of everything in a world that changes as quickly as the world of television?
I try to always stay active. I like to recycle and be versatile in many disciplines. I’ve spent more years on radio than on TV—nearly 20. And I earned my stripes in the theater, where I’ve found my ultimate expression. But I have a production company where I come up with formats, I do movie dubbing, I have a tech company… I like to keep going, to constantly reinvent myself.
How has the TV entertainment model or format changed between when you started and now?
It’s changed a lot. That’s the big struggle today… Knowing that TV used to bring families together and now it seems to be the exact opposite. Dad watches soccer on the TV in the living room, while Mom watches the latest episode of her favorite series on the iPad, and the kids watch YouTube videos and platforms on their cell phones… Everything has changed. On-demand TV is the future.
Theater or television?
I owe everything to TV. It gave me the tools to end up becoming what I wanted to be and it made me popular. The public’s affection is something I wouldn’t change for anything… But the theater is where I established myself. It’s such a direct channel with the spectators, their reactions, capturing their attention for two hours, and having so much feeling… I always say that the place where I’m happiest in the world is on a stage…
Are impersonations part of your daily routine?
No, no… I let them rest… For the sake of my sanity and the sanity of those around me.
How important is good humor in people’s happiness?
It’s everything. It’s really important. Good feeling, good humor, optimism, good vibes. I’m all about energies, and there’s no question that I’ve shown that: Everything in my life is much better seen from the perspective of “let’s go get ’em!”
What’s Carlos Latre’s daily routine like?
No two days are the same. I don’t have “standard days.” I can wake up in any city in Spain (I work at a lot of events and as MC at events all over the country). After my sports session, I do radio a couple of days a week; I get my next theater show ready; I have work meetings for new projects; I try to rest as well, even for just 20 minutes after lunch; and I go to English, singing, and dance classes. I steal a little time to be with my family whenever I can…
As a comedian, it is difficult for people to take you seriously when you’re not working?
No. I think that after 20 years people also value me for who I am, for Carlos Latre. That no-name guy who started off in [late night sketch show] Crónicas Marcianas when he was 19 is now an adult who works really hard to try to do what makes him happiest: to make others happy; to give the best of myself.
Does TV put a lot of pressure on you?
Yes. It’s one of the cruelest and most direct media there is. It causes anxieties and fears… But proper TV is a good source of learning and experience, too.
What medium/long-term projects do you have?
Well, after the summer we’re starting up [Friday night entertainment show] Tu cara me suena for a seventh season. I also have another radio project I’m going to do alongside my weekly collaboration on Onda Cero, and I’m still preparing my new theater show, which will be a before and after in my life… There’s even a little international collaboration in there… The truth is I’ve got a year full of work ahead of me and things look good. Let’s go for it!
A little taste
Best time for having a glass of wine.
In the afternoon. When the sun is hiding… Or while cooking. I love being in the kitchen, behind the stove, with a good wine.
A song to enjoy wine to.
It depends on the moment. I recently had a glass listening to “Nessun Dorma” while the sun was setting in Zarhara de los Atunes… It was a magical moment…
Somewhere you’d get lost.
Anywhere with a sea. Some unknown, rugged place… I’m all about the sea, the water…
What do you do in your free time?
I really like reading and watching good movies. Playing with my daughter, going to the theater…
A fault and a virtue.
Fault: I really demand a lot from myself. Virtue: I am very loyal, very hard working.
What did you want to be when you were little? And when you were grown up?
When I was little, a correspondent. When I was older, happy. I want to be proud of what I do and of how I’ve achieved it.