Rachel Arieff: Interview in El Periódico

Rachel Arieff: “The Vatican and the powerful are always material for ridicule.”

A timely and acerbic view of the world according to the comedian, pianist and ‘underground’ cabaret artist.

Monday, June 23, 2014

«El Vaticano y los poderosos siempre son carne de burla»_MEDIA_1

Photo: Joan Puig

A North American born in Milwaukee, what she refers to «the deep midwest». Biting and irreverent, Rachel Arieff has two unique shows: Anti-Karaoke (Sidecar) and Coñólogos (Gipsy Lou).

-My grandmother was Norwegian, one of my grandfathers was German and the other was Russian… I’m a mongrel, like most North Americans. My father sold aluminum siding, my mother was a housewife and I came out an artist; let’s just say I was a surprise.

-How did you discover your comic vein?

-I was that way as a kid. I was always kind of a hippy and a nerd. Once, on the gymnastics team, I had to wear leotards, but I preferred to wear men’s underwear that I’d tie-dyed. I knew I was an artist not because I went to ballet and music classes, but because of the way I thought. I felt constrained at home, at school with the cliques of students. Everything seemed so conformist.

-But you went into Political Science.

-Yes, I began very straight-laced; at 14 I learned about the imperialism of my country and it was doing around the world really bothered me. But later I went into dance because I had bulimia, I got fat and I wanted to lose weight.


-I wasn’t happy and I hadn’t discovered my path. We’re all prisoners of the environment we’re born into until we get old enough and can escape. As artists we need to get out of our bonds and experiment. I felt that place was somewhere else.

-And you packed your suitcase.

-I began my career in Texas as a stand-up comedian. Later I went to live in New York: during the day I worked as a secretary in one of the Twin Towers, disguised as an executive, and at night, I performed in dives. I took the anger and hatred inside and turned them around; that is what stand-up comedy is.

-And finally you ended up in Barcelona.

– I fell in love with Barcelona on a school trip, with my Spanish class! It seemed that in this society there was love and beauty, even though that might sound like a cliché. So here I am, since 2004, doing comedy, composing music and studying flamenco.

-You don’t say!

-Yes, singing and dancing. I began to listen to it last summer; Camarón de la Isla, of course. Now I’m preparing a flamenco show, yankee-style. I’ve already decided on my artistic name: “la Terremoto de Milwaukee.”

-It’s a promising name. What do you think is the best subject for comedy?

-El Vaticano parece pedirlo a gritos porque es una de las empresas más corruptas del planeta, aunque el nuevo Papa da señales de esperanza. Los poderosos siempre son carne de burla.

-Le molesta la etiqueta de underground.

-No, com vostè vulgui. Intento salir del underground, de lo marginal, pero me aburro. Hice pelis y series de televisión en EEUU y estaba en el camino de una carrera exitosa, pero no podía dedicarme al ciento por ciento. No puedo ser actriz.

-¿Por qué?

-En EEUU había papeles horribles para las mujeres. Y si eres rubia, ni le cuento: «¿Qué tal, cariño? ¿Cómo te ha ido el día? ¿Te preparo un bocadillo?» Nunca olvidaré lo que me dijo una profesora de arte dramático, exmujer de Jack Nicholson: «Si quieres dedicarte a esto, piensa que tu trabajo será convertir la mierda en algo decente».

-¿Vota en las elecciones de EEUU?

-Sí, suelo votar. Para los progresistas era mejor tener a Obama en la Casa Blanca que a George Bush, pero al final ha sido una decepción. ¡Lo ha vendido todo!

-Aquí se nos avecina un otoño caliente.

-Ya… En la cuestión independentista no soy particularmente pro, pero todo dependerá de los cambios que hagan, de cómo afecten a mi vida.

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