#NoMames Double Feature: “Rent-a-Rican” and “How to Tell If Your Dog Is Puerto Rican”

Jan 23, 2013
3:53 PM

We get it. Puerto Ricans are loud and fun at parties. They like to dance. They like to be drink rum. They like to have sex (yes, please). We understand.


Yet there is something wrong about the following two videos that are making the rounds on the Internet and on Facebook.

The first one, “Rent-a-Rican,” has already gone global thanks to HuffPost Latino Voices, with the creator telling NBC Latino that charges of racism are “absurd.” You decide for yourself.

One of the video’s creators, Sarah Morzal, was quick to lecture the world when she said the following to NBC Latino: “What we’re attempting to mock are those negative and simplistic portrayals of Latinos that are so annoyingly prevalent in popular media. By the point I’m putting Nino [actor who portrays the rented Rican] in the dishwasher…most people get it. It’s absurd.” As if that part of the patronizing attitude were not enough, Morzal added this: “To the people who think it’s racist, I would like to congratulate them. They cracked our code and really discovered that the true point of our sketch was to mock Latinos and eventually create this service for real. I will not be satisfied until I’m actually putting human beings into dishwashers.”

We are wondering if Morzal and her troupe will be coming out with comedy classics, such as Rent-a-Jew, Rent-an-Oriental, Rent-a-Homie, and Rent-a-Wetback. Granted, we might have given the group some props if the Rican piece was actually well-done, but it clearly shows that the comedy is too glossy and tries really hard to be clever and witty by focusing on obviously lazy stereotypes. Our advice to Morzal? A) Be funny, B) Try to go beyond the stale “Puerto Ricans are great at parties” motif, and C) Be funny.

The problem is that the skit never really gave you the impression that the people at the party were the ones who were being mocked. The entire skit was focused on the Rent-A-Rican and how he was saving the day. This was just another example of mediocre comedy content that doesn’t dig deeper. If the intent of the skit was to truly mock people’s stereotypical perceptions of Puerto Ricans and Latinos in general, then that should have been its goal. A perfect example of such a concept is the classic, “Spanish for Your Nanny” bit. There, the nanny knows the deal and viewers instantly know who is the object of the joke. In the Rent-a-Rican skit, the Rican (and the nod to Mexicans, because why not, add a lawnmower joke to the bit while you are at it) are the butt of the joke. Morzal’s defense also gets a #NoMames. This is not about being racist, it is about how easily your intent can misinterpreted and be told that it blows chunks all because you chose the lazy joke. Good comedy is hard. Bad comedy is easy.

The other video is all about a dancing dog. And to be honest with you, the video is funny. Really funny. However, you lost us at the title. Why not just say, “Funny Dog Dances Merengue?” Hell, there is a whole YouTube genre for that type of video. None of those videos felt the need to make it all ethnic and associate it with a specific group. They are just silly videos. The following video fails because of the title, “How to Tell If Your Dog Is Puerto Rican.” We are wondering if the creator of this video has the cojones to produce, “How to Tell If Your Dog Is Black,” “How to Tell If Your Dog Is Jewish,” etc. etc. Maybe Puerto Rican Dog Guy and Morzal can join forces on their next series of videos?

This is why we tend to avoid comedy on YouTube that is overreaching and forced. It is content created by amateurs. Besides, we have already found our favorite YouTube video. We can play this one all the time. Hit it, Gollum.