MARACAIBO, Venezuela – A yellow-and-white background appears along with the sounds of rock music to start one of the country’s most popular Internet shows.
The host, a bespectacled 19-year-old with a calm demeanor, welcomes his audience before delving into the day’s topic, which can range anywhere from the way teenage girls talk, to the latest gossip and the latest changes to Facebook.
The show, deeply rooted in that sarcastic sense of humor that is particular to Maracaibo, is known for criticizing Venezuelan society – its media, adolescents, social networks and music.
“The Alejandro Hernández Show,” one of the most popular and talked-about programs in Venezuela, is broadcast exclusively over the Internet.
The show’s segments, which run generally between eight and 10 minutes, are produced from start to finish by Alejandro Hernández, a 19-year-old visual arts student who has used his show to forge a connection with the Andean nation’s youth.
“You’re the voice of this generation,” “you’re a great artist,” “Venezuelan talent,” are just some of the comments left by some of his 136,000 fans on Facebook and by the more than a million who have watched his show on YouTube.
“I salute [you] and hope [you] carry on with your commentaries, because you show us the reality of our country in a very particular way, through sarcasm and by making good use of the Maracucho’s (native of Maracaibo) sense of humor,” said Angelline Araujo, a 22-year-old education major in Maracaibo’s Universidad Cecilio Acosta.
“I really like ‘The Alejandro Hernández Show’ because he talks about realities that many people don’t like to confront,” said Mayibel Cárdenas, a 26-year-old student at the University of Zulia. “When you think about it, he’s good-natured, charismatic, and he proves that the way people from Maracaibo speak is not necessarily the way it’s represented in the capital and in other cities around the country, where we’re mocked for sounding ignorant and dirty-mouthed.”
The government is wary of Hernández’s show.
On “La Hojilla,” (The Blade), an opinion program that airs on the government channel, the Hernández show was harshly criticized and labeled “dangerous.”
But Hernández’s fans stand by him.
“The truth is, ‘The Alejandro Hernández’ show is well-produced and I applaud him for what he does,” said Javier Matos, a 28-year-old journalism student from Maracaibo. “I don’t understand why they’re linking him to politics because in his programs he’s simply speaking about everyday stuff. On ‘La Hojilla’ he was attacked as a dangerous element. Well, I wonder what makes him dangerous when all he does is make people laugh with his brand of humor?”
In an exclusive conversation with Infosurhoy.com, Hernández talks about how his show was conceived, the impact it has had among Venezuela’s youth and the challenges of producing it.
Infosurhoy: How did you come up with the idea for “The Alejandro Hernández Show?” Why is a show like yours necessary in Venezuela?
Hernández: I had watched a couple of YouTubers who had the same basic idea and I asked myself: Why can’t we do something like that in Venezuela? But the idea of doing a show of my own had not yet occurred to me. Later, while on Facebook, I realized that there are many people who make grammatical mistakes and who use that social network for any number of crazy purposes. I said to myself ‘this has to stop: I have to do a video to vent to the world.’ That’s how the idea was born. It started with a few short videos about Facebook and grammatical mistakes, but then it became something more.
Infosurhoy: What’s the greatest challenge in producing your program?
Hernández: It’s definitely the ideas. Because I can write, record and edit in no time at all. The difficulty is coming up with the ideas. I’m always afraid of running out of them. I know there are many things to talk about but if they don’t come to your mind, you can’t do anything. When I have enough ideas to do something that’s seven minutes long, I start writing the script.
Infosurhoy: Many people say that your program’s appeal is the way in which humor about local customs is mixed with contemporary pop culture and technology. Why has your show become so popular?
Hernández: I believe it’s because people identify with the things I say. Honestly, I don’t consider myself a funny person. In fact, I don’t think I’m a comedian. If people happen to laugh at the things I say, then that’s that. But I can say that people are indeed attracted by the program because I’ve always enjoyed giving my show a touch of Hollywood. In my country, people aren’t used to this type of production because most Venezuelan movies have a soap opera look.
Infosurhoy: Your show is among the first in Venezuela to be broadcast exclusively over the Internet. What do you think of the audiovisual-entertainment revolution that’s taking place in Venezuela?
Hernández: I’ve seen people who’ve launched a kind of TV channel over the Internet, with original content. There are people who’ve decided to do their own webcasting so they can share their opinions with others. I’ve always wished for this to happen because we need it in Venezuela.