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Tarragona: from obituary editor to king of humor

Actor. Scriptwriter for movie and television. imitator Humorist. Singer. Composer. Director of music magazine. Entrepreneur of the show. Inventor of the expression “it’s a joke” that has passed into popular language as a way to soften a taunt. Born in Tarragona in 1928, Casto Sendra Barrufet, better known as Cassen, was that and more. A versatile artist who, in his day, was the best comedian in Spain . Something like the also brilliant Tarragonan Carlos Latre today, but in the 50s, 60s and 70s and with even more facets.

A recently published book, ‘Cassen, joking with my father’ (Editorial Amarante), rescues his figure. Written by Sonia, the youngest of Casto’s five children and his wife, María del Carmen Crespo, it recounts Cassen’s life and professional career through the words of the showman himself, the vision of his daughter and the conversations this with 80 people (a dozen friends and relatives and another 70 from the entertainment world: directors, film and theater actors and actresses, television producers, comedians, singers…).

Cassen (left) and José Sazatornil, in the dialogue about free will in ‘Amanece que no es poco’ (1989). It is worth looking for it on the Internet. PHOTO: Sonia Sendra

«He was a serious man, the classic father, but he was not severe. He could be teased a bit. He was obsessed with humor. All day I waited for jokes or shows . He was very impulsive. The truth is that we saw very little of it. It had a very funny part. For example, when the whole family watched TV, they lowered the volume and put on the voices of whoever was coming out at that moment, “recalls Sonia in conversation with ‘Diari’.

Sonia wrote the book between 2000 and 2003, but at that time it was impossible to publish it. He then had two children. Two decades later he ‘moved’ the book again and got it published, coinciding with the resurgence of humor with monologues and the Comedy Club. After publishing the book, he is now preparing a documentary about his father.

«In his day I wrote the book to revive the figure of my father. He was a very important person. He said it himself. When I was little, I didn’t believe him because he didn’t appear in the ‘Un, dos, tres…’. The book is a way of compensating for not having believed him. Barcelona was paralyzed when my father was on TV, as if Barça were playing. He renewed the humor and made it more agile and dynamic. When he started, in 1953, he imitated celebrities. So I didn’t imitate anyone. He was a pioneer”, says Sonia proudly.

Cassen Cassen, characterized as Harpo Marx. PHOTO: Sonia Sendra Harpo Marx. PHOTO: Sonia Sendra

Sonia speaks with the love of a daughter, but she does not exaggerate. With 21 films, 30 joke albums, numerous appearances in theatrical magazines, a series on TV3 (‘De professió API’) and his own television programmes… Cassen was one of the most popular comedians. profession api ”) and own programs on television… Cassen was one of the most popular comedians. Cassen was one of the most popular humorists. Tarragona City Council paid him a posthumous tribute by naming him Favorite son of the city in 1992, a year after his death.

Until reaching the top, Cassen had to carve out a career. Cassen had to carve out a career. And work for a living. He did it in the 1950s in the advertising section of the Diari de Tarragona, then Diario Español, where Diari de Tarragona, then Diario Español, where was in charge of writing the obituaries . The genius of humor made a living with the memories of the deceased.

Sonia dedicates one of the book’s chapters to the lifetime pelacanyespelacanyes of his father: which cinemas he went to, in which football team he played, who helped him to contact a show business man, under what circumstances he met in the Tarragona bullring who would be his wife, how was the peculiar invitation wedding, in which rooms of the city he acted before sweeping the best theaters in Barcelona and Madrid…

Cassen Cassenwas proud of his first years in Tarragona. « I spent my childhood within the walls of a great Roman circus and amphitheater where you can dream with a thousand fictions. My father was a merchant marine. Our childhood could not have been happier. We lived in a small apartment on Calle Cervantes, at number 11.little apartment on Calle Cervantes, at number 11. . My father built a little house on the Miracle beach, where he taught us to swim with a little push. Miracle, where he taught us to swim with a little push. Thanks to the Sendra family, which in Catalan means ash, I learned to appreciate the sea,” he said.Sendra, which in Catalan means ash, I learned to appreciate the sea,” he said.

That happiness was cut short by the Civil War. After the bombing of the city, Casto, his parents and his two sisters moved to live in L’Ametlla de Mar, where his uncles lived. L’Ametlla de Mar, where his uncles lived. A bomb almost completely destroyed the family home on Cervantes Street. Cervantes. Casto: «Of the furniture and objects that we were able to save from that bombing, thanks to a kind neighbor and friend of my parents who saved them for us, there remained a table, a couple of chairs… and a hope, which is still preserved in a cupboard in my sister’s house in Tarragona». Many years later, in 1981, that experience inspired a comedy: ‘La sopera’.

With Mónica Randall, in ‘Spanish Fury’ (1975). PHOTO: Sonia Sendra SendraRandall, in ‘Spanish Fury’ (1975). PHOTO: Sonia Sendra
SendraRandall, in ‘Spanish Fury’ (1975). PHOTO: Sonia Sendra SendraRandall, in ‘Spanish Fury’ (1975). PHOTO: Sonia SendraSendra

That ‘anecdote’ is one of many that are explained in the book. Like when another magazine was released, precisely the one entitled ‘It’s a joke!’. It was 1964 and the walls of Barcelona were papered with the magazine’s advertisements. It coincided with Franco’s campaign “25 years of peace” (alluding to the victory of the rebels in 1939 after the Civil War). Some enlightened person placed the poster next to those of the magazine. The inadvertent joke turned into a nightmare when a reporter called Cassen’s wife asking if he had been jailed for being a subversive. Cassen asking if he had been put in jail for being a subversive. Nothing happened to him. But the fear of censorship was present. Cassen CassenIt was the comedian who received the most fines for “going overboard” with his jokes.

So successful was the expression “just kidding!” that the day that Cassen they stoleCassen was robbed Car and went to a police station to report it, the policemen did not believe him and did not stop repeating between laughs, «it’s a joke it’s a joke”.

Some films in which Cassen acted, such as ‘Spanish Fury’, suffered the censorship snip. Cassen, like ‘Spanish Fury’, suffered the censor snip. Most were comedies, but Casto made his debut in a movie, ‘Plácido’, directed by Luis García Berlanga. The film was nominated for an Oscar as best foreign film. He lost to ‘As in a mirror’, by Bergman. Bergman.

Another of his films, ‘El mujeriego’ (1963), made the sales of a Siata a car that was once made in TarragonaSiata as explained in a previous pelacanyes chronicle.anterior pelicans.

The comedian from Tarragona also triumphed on tv . And it was valued. Account that he earned 75,000 pesetas per performance compared to 1,500 per theatrical function. Performances in theaters were also very successful.

Success played a trick on him. Other comedians ‘stole’ his jokes He says. He was especially incensed that Mustache Arrocet took over his hilarious telephone conversations for his gags in ‘Un, dos, tres…’. Arrocet took over his hilarious telephone conversations for his gags in ‘Un, dos, tres…’.

Nevertheless always kept wit including ‘self-jokes’ such as «When I was little I would tell my mother: ‘Mom, my head itches’ and my mother would say ‘In what kilometer’». self-jokes’ such as «When I was little I would say to my mother: ‘Mom, my head itches’ and my mother would say ‘In what kilometer’». If you Google “the comedian Cassen la 2”, you can hear some of his jokes. Or, better yet, read them in the book.

Cassen Cassenhe died in Barcelona on August 4, 1991. It will not sound familiar to the youngest people from Tarragona. The older ones will remember how they had a blast with him because, as Cassen himself stated, Cassen,“Laughter is above everything. You have to get laughter at any price. To stop laughing is to die enough» .

More information

  • pelacanyes chronicles
  • Tarragona
  • Charles Later
  • Cassen
  • joking with my father

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