Fabrizio Copano Is Using Comedy to Address Political Wounds

For Mental Health Awareness Month, we asked Latine comedians and creators we admire how comedy has supported them in overcoming trauma and confronting life’s most significant challenges. Read the pieces here.

Fabrizio Copano, a rising star in the world of stand-up comedy, isn’t your typical Latine comic. His journey, shaped by his Chilean upbringing under a pos-dictatorship and his subsequent disillusionment with the American Dream, fuels a unique comedic perspective that tackles serious political and cultural themes.

Copano’s early life in Chile was marked by the tail-end of political turmoil. Growing up, he witnessed firsthand the harsh repercussions of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, a period characterized by repression, human rights abuses, and a stifling political climate. This experience undoubtedly contrasts the idealized image of the US he received through the media.

“Chile is very Americanized in certain ways, and we look up [to] the US,” Copano says. “The culture shock was when I figured out that we are ahead of the US in so many ways because we have already lived through many of the traumas that the US is just now confronting.”

When Copano realized America is “just as messy,” it allowed him to view Americans from a more humanistic lens. “The system isn’t as perfect as it pretends to be. I now use this idea in my stand-up, that we’re ahead of the US – we are from the future,” Copano says.

Indeed, Copano uses comedy to explore the disillusionment that sets in when the romanticized American dream confronts America’s often harsh realities. Copano weaves jokes about America’s obsession with individualism clashing with the collectivist values instilled in him during his Chilean upbringing.

Unlike many US-born Latine comics who mine humor from the shared experience of navigating American life as a minority, Copano offers a fresh perspective. He injects Chilean history, culture, and political sensibilities into his routines, creating a richer and more nuanced portrayal of the Latine experience.

“A comedian can touch a nerve of [what’s going on in] society. Through laughter, you can open yourself a little bit more to think or view things in a certain way that the comedian is proposing. You can take advantage of the chaos,” he says. “That’s why I like putting little nuggets of my point of view. I think we Latinos are the future. We’re everywhere, but at the same time, we’re always [portrayed as] the victim in a very narrow way that is not the reality.”

Copano’s achievement as the first South American comedian to land a Netflix special is a testament to his talent and perseverance. But paving this path wasn’t easy. He faced challenges, including limited spaces for comedic exposure or the pressure to conform to stereotypical expectations of Latino humor. However, his success has paved the way for future Latin American comedians, demonstrating the global appeal of their unique perspectives.

When Netflix approached him for his special “Solo pienso en mi,” which was released in 2017, he wanted his comedy to resonate with viewers no matter where they were from.

“I have to make comedy travel,” Copano says. “Then doing comedy in English was another layer of a challenge – how do you connect with people who have nothing to do with you and figure out things that are universal or so personal that you bring them to your world and they can connect through their own lens?”

Copano’s US touring stand-up show “Baby Coup” tackles the concerning resurgence of fascism worldwide. He recognizes the power of humor to disarm audiences and makes complex political issues more accessible. Laughter can create a sense of connection, allowing him to plant critical seeds while keeping the audience engaged. He uses satire to expose the manipulative tactics of fascist leaders and employs dark humor to highlight the dangers of complacency in the face of rising authoritarianism.

“Funny things are universal – misery is everywhere, so you can find the funny things in misery,” Copano says. “Through trauma and experience, you can still see the scars, but if you can find a funny way to talk about these topics and bring it back, you kind of refresh people’s memories and reflect on how absurd it is.”

Copano looks forward to taping his first-ever hour-long special in English this summer.

“It’s kind of about my first years in the US, the cultural clash, the disappointments, but also all of the things that were great,” Copano explains.

Copano’s comedy reminds us that humor can be a powerful tool for sparking dialogue and challenging the status quo. Particularly in Latine communities, humor tends to play a vital role when it comes to survival. It serves as a coping mechanism for dealing with difficult circumstances, a way to bond over shared experiences, and a tool for challenging authority.

Copano’s unique point of view not only offers valuable lessons but also shows us how to confront darkness with laughter, find strength in shared experiences, and perhaps even inspire change, one joke at a time.

“I just try to give this perspective that while many Latinos are victims of wrongdoings from our own governments, we are also humans,” he says. “We have our own thoughts, we are super smart, driven, we know what we want, and we know what the US needs now and can be very useful when democracy is in danger.”

Kimmy Dole is a contributor for PS Juntos known for her sharp insights and compelling storytelling. An entertainment enthusiast, Kimmy immerses herself in the glitz of the industry, delivering a captivating blend of celebrity interviews, insights from industry experts, and the latest pop culture trends. Her work offers readers a genuine and relatable perspective, especially when exploring the complexities of relationships.