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Triumphant in BCN


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Meet the foreigners who’ve made good in Barna

“I talk trash onstage, but I’m embarrassed to open my mouth at the bank.

Stage fright at waiting on line

Rachel Arieff
Comic and mistress of ceremonies at Anti-Karaoke

Who could be capable of converting Mondays — the worst day to put on a show — into the night to go out? Who could transform something as stale as karaoke into the must-see event of the week? No one else but Rachel Arieff, the most amusing woman in Barcelona. She invented Anti-Karaoke, the underground karaoke every Monday at the Sidecar Club, “the CBGB’s of Barcelona”, as a result of “the loneliness I felt as an artist” when she arrived in a city without a tradition of stand-up comedy. Because “an actor or a celebrity reciting a monologue that was written by a team of writers is not stand-up comedy,” in spite of the fact that Rachel claims to have met the Catlonian version of Lenny Bruce, “a garbage-man in rural Catalonia”.

Before establishing herself in the Plaza Reial, Anti-Karaoke began at the Llantiol, the café-theater in the Raval, where the first Thursday of every month Rachel offers her show Cómo ser feliz todo el tiempo, a spectacle with stellar moments such as the discovery of El Peque, a combination toy-and-knife store in Barcelona. “Both at the same time!”, remarks Rachel, wide-eyed. One of the things she likes most about the Catalonians are their “atomic contradictions”, manifested most extremely in the case of El Peque.

Her Barcelona trauma: “When I go to the bank or the post office, having to say to the waiting customers: ‘Who’s last?’ This is a big culture clash for a person from America. There, when you enter a public place, you don’t talk to anybody. The only people who do that are psychopaths. Over there, if you walk into a bank and start talking to everyone, you might get stabbed. I talk dirty all night on stage, but it took me months to get over my fear of speaking to the people at the bank.

-Marta Salicrú