Exclusive interview with Joanna Hausmann: Comedy as a vehicle for change.

| July 19, 2015 | 1 Comment


Para leer en Español

By: Maria Alejandra Pulgar, @marialepulgar

Photos: Courtesy Joanna Hausmann


Writer, director, performer; those are words that define the work of Joanna Hausmann, a “Millennial” born in England by chance, Venezuelan by birthright, and American by choice.

Her videos on the YouTube channel “The Flama” have reached hundreds of thousands of views, because they are accurate portraits of the life experiences of this generation of multicultural Latinos living in the US.

With a degree in English, History and Drama from Tufts University under her belt, and after a stint in Chicago to attend the Comedy Studies Program at The Second City Theater, she has made New York her home without forgetting her Venezuelan roots.

A “globally aware” kid

Joanna HausmannShe loved growing up in a family where school assignments were discussed along with the headlines in the newspaper. The newscast on the TV was “an accompaniment to our lives, the blurry sound of the news in the background. It was a very international perspective I gained, even being a kid, just being globally aware. I was very lucky to have a very keen perspective as how my problems were not that big as a kid.”

The youngest of three siblings and daughter of two eminent Venezuelan academics, Hausmann had “a bit of a nomadic upbringing”, because her family moved from England to Venezuela, then to Washington, Boston and then back to Caracas in 2002, in the midst of the political upheaval the country was going through.

She remembers clearly those turbulent times. “The calling out for protest and I remember protesting on the streets. I remember school cancelled. The biggest comparison for me is that I had school cancelled for snow in Boston, but in Caracas I had school cancelled for political upheaval. Living in those 2 realities was so interesting because the latter was tragic but also more interesting, and it brings me back to my parents talking about it every day on our dinner table, talking about those social realities that I could not escape, I could not be in a bubble.”

Being bicultural, explained

Joanna Hausmann has white skin, blue eyes, red hair. She has her Polish, Jewish, grandparents to thank for her European looks, but although she speaks English as an American and Spanish as Venezuelan -going back and forth between both languages with the ease that only a child brought up in a bilingual environment can achieve- she had to explain all her life, when she went to a new school, where she came from and why she looked like that. She defines herself as a ‘Jewtina’.

“When we went back to Venezuela I felt so much at home, because I did not have to explain myself and elucidate what my identity was, it was easier for me. I am a particularly bicultural person and it is a reality so many people of my generation face.”

Hausmann considers Latin Americans in the US as the biggest examples of a “globalized world, where identity is broader. The moving back and forth, made me very keen on understanding of the idiosyncrasies of different cultures that many people in those cultures do not notice.” And she has been able to include those observations in the scripts for her videos “Things White Latinos Are Sick of Hearing” or “5 Misconceptions about Latinos”.

“There is something incredibly wonderful on how different we all are but is a sense a brotherhood that made us gravitate towards each other. We all have been through similar things together, leaving our countries, going through immigration processes. My friends here are all attached to their cultures but also feel they belong here.”

Comedy to educate society

“Comedy is an enormous vehicle to change because humor is universal. It is an intelligent way of hitting the masses and having them on your team as you are educating them. In order to do intelligent humor you have to be pushing yourself to learn more. Comedy comes from seeing the nuisances in each culture. The broader your world the broader the humor can be.”

She considers “there is a capacity in Venezuelans of coming up with a joke even in the most tragic circumstances. Humor is just ingrained; those two things coexist. What I am trying to do is to represent Venezuela in a way that we can be unified versus divided.”

“Millennial comedy is more multicultural. People know more people from different places and there is humor in that. There is humor into knowing different cultures and feeling that you represent different things for different places and people. We are all exposed to it through the internet. Americans loved my Venezuelan videos and thought they were hilarious. Fifty years ago, something like that would have been funny only for Venezuelans.

“We are not only becoming more global but how we consume entertainment is changing very rapidly and that is how comedy is changing as well.”

Joanna  Hausmann“Continue fulfilling my passion”

Beyond performing on some of the videos in “The Flama”, Hausmann writes, produces and directs many of them, and looks forward to continue creating more of those hilarious pieces.

“Being a comedian is multitasking job. As a kid I did not know this job existed, that I could do all these things. I always loved to make people laugh, I always loved to write and I loved to perform. So I went from wanting to be a playwright to wanting to be an actress to wanting to be a movie writer. I have been able to find a position where I am able to do everything I wanted to do.”

Being bicultural sometimes makes it hard to find their place in the world for the Millennials, and Hausmann is not strange to that feeling. “Me and people like me are doomed to always miss something. I always felt at home in the Venezuela I grew up in but I feel very identified with the culture in New York, because everyone who lives here comes from somewhere else and had to leave their comfort zone, people who left home to come here for a better life, an opportunity or to follow their dreams. That is a passion, an energy I feel every day here. Right now I feel I belong in New York, it is a great city.”

With plenty of possibilities opening up for her, Joanna wants to keep doing what she loves “to do and make people happy. Continue having a job that fulfills all my passions. This is in an opportunity to educate people who have never met a Venezuelan before, but also to appreciate people from different places and learn from them” and with her example help others become world citizens as well.

——————– En Español ——————–


Entrevista exclusiva con Joanna Hausmann

El humor como agente de cambio


Por: María Alejandra Pulgar, @marialepulgar

Fotos: Cortesía Joanna Hausmann

Escritora, directora, interprete. Esas palabras definen el trabajo de Joanna Hausmann, una joven ‘Millenial’ nacida en Inglaterra por casualidad, venezolana por derecho y crianza, y Americana por decisión.

Sus videos en el canal de YouTube “The Flama” han alcanzado cientos de miles de visitas, porque muestran un retrato muy acertado sobre las experiencias de esta generación de jóvenes latinos multiculturales que viven en los EEUU.

Joanna tiene una licenciatura en Lengua Inglesa, Historia y Drama de la Universidad Tufts, y luego de pasar una temporada en Chicago estudiando en el Programa de Estudios de Comedia en el Second City Theater, finalmente se ha residenciado en New York, sin perder sus raíces venezolanas.

Una niña con perspectiva global

Disfrutó una infancia feliz en una familia donde las tareas escolares se discutían junto con los titulares de la prensa. El noticiero de la TV era “un acompañante constante, siempre el sonido de las noticias estaba en el fondo de las conversaciones. Gané una perspectiva global, pendiente de lo que sucedía en el mundo. Tuve mucha suerte de aprender a tener la perspectiva de cómo mis problemas no eran tan grandes como los de los demás.”

Joanna  HausmannEs la hija menor de dos eminentes académicos venezolanos. Pasó una infancia “nómada, porque la familia se mudó de Inglaterra a Venezuela. Después nos fuimos a Washington, de ahí a Boston y luego de nuevo a Caracas.” Llegaron en el 2002, durante la fuerte crisis política que el país enfrento en ese momento.

Ella recuerda claramente ese tiempo. “Recuerdo los llamados a las marchas y protestas en la calle. Recuerdo que suspendieron las clases. La mayor comparación para mi es que en Boston la escuela la cancelaban por nieve y en Caracas por las protestas políticas. Vivir esas dos realidades fue trágico, pero muy interesante. Recuerdo lo que conversábamos con mis padres todos los días a la hora de la cena. Hablábamos de las realidades del país que no se podían ignorar. Yo no podía estar en una burbuja.”

Explicando la biculturalidad

Joanna Hausmann tiene piel clara, ojos azules y cabello rojizo. Debe su aspecto europeo a sus abuelos judíos polacos. Habla el Inglés como Americana y el Español con acento caraqueño, pasando del uno al otro como solamente pueden hacerlo los niños criados en un ambiente bilingüe. Toda su vida ha tenido que explicar, sobre todo cuando llegaba nueva a una escuela, su origen, su acento y su aspecto. Terminó definiéndose como “Jutina” una mezcla de Judía con Latina.

“Cuando regresé a Venezuela a los 13 años me sentí como en casa, porque no tenía que estar dilucidando con nadie sobre mi identidad. Soy una persona bicultural y esa es una realidad que comparto con muchas personas de mi generación.

Hausmann considera que los Latinos en EEUU son los mejores ejemplos de “un mundo globalizado, donde la identidad es amplia. Las constantes mudanzas me permitieron apreciar la idiosincrasia de diferentes culturas, incluso aspectos que ellos mismos no notan.”

Esa experiencia y observaciones las ha plasmado en los guiones de los videos “Cosas que los blancos latinos están cansados de oír” y “Cinco malentendidos sobre los latinos” los cuales han sido muy populares en el canal de The Flama.

“Hay algo maravilloso en nuestras diferencias, pero a la vez es un sentido de hermandad que nos hace acercarnos mutuamente. Todos hemos vivido procesos similares al emigrar y dejar nuestros países. Mis amigos están muy apegados a sus culturas pero también se sienten que pertenecen a este país.”

Joanna  HausmannHacer comedia para educar a la sociedad

“La comedia es un gran agente de cambio, porque el humor es universal. Es una manera inteligente de acercarte a las masas, incorporarlas a tu bando y educarlas. Para hacer un humor inteligente se requiere un constante aprendizaje. Debes esforzarte en aprender cada vez más, porque la comedia aparece en los detalles de cada cultura y cuanto más conozcas mejor podrás reflejarlos.”

Ella piensa que “los venezolanos tienen la capacidad de hacer un chiste hasta de las circunstancias más trágicas; el humor es intrínseco, ambas cosas coexisten. Yo solo quiero representar a Venezuela de una manera que pueda unirnos.”

“La comedia para los ‘Milennials’ es algo multicultural. Conocemos gente de muchos sitios diferentes y en eso hay humor. Hay humor en conocer diferentes culturas y saber que representas diferentes cosas para diferentes personas y lugares. Estamos expuestos a mucha información a través de Internet. Muchos americanos han apreciado mis videos sobre los venezolanos y los han encontrado muy graciosos. Hace 50 años eso no habría sido posible.”

“No solamente somos más globales sino que la forma de acceder al entretenimiento cambia muy rápido; así también cambia la forma de hacer comedia.”

“Un trabajo que me apasiona”

Hausmann no solamente actúa en algunos videos de “The Flama”; también escribe, produce y dirige y desea crear muchas piezas divertidas en el futuro.

“Ser comediante es un trabajo multidisciplinario. Yo no sabía que este tipo de trabajo existía, que podría hacer todo lo que me gusta hacer en un solo lugar. Siempre me ha gustado entretener a los demás, pero también escribir y actuar. Pasé de querer ser dramaturgo, a actriz, a guionista, y he podido encontrar un trabajo donde hago todo lo que siempre quise hacer.”

La multiculturalidad dificulta a los “Millennials” encontrar su lugar en el mundo. Hausmann no es ajena a esa impresión. “Mucha gente como yo está destinada a siempre extrañar algo. Me sentía en casa en la Venezuela en que crecí, pero me siento muy identificada con la cultura en New York, porque quienes viven aquí vienen de otras partes, han dejado sus zonas de confort para buscar una vida mejor, oportunidades y realizar sus sueños. Esa pasión, esa energía, las siento aquí a diario. Ahora me siento que pertenezco a New York también.”

Con muchas posibilidades ante sus ojos, Joanna quiere seguir su pasión trabajando en lo que ama: “hacer feliz a la gente. Quiero seguir en un trabajo que me apasiona. Esta es una oportunidad para educar a quienes nunca habían conocido a los venezolanos sobre la cultura, y a la vez para apreciar y aprender de las personas que vienen de diferentes lugares.” Ese es un ejemplo que ayudará a muchos a convertirse también en ciudadanos del mundo.



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  1. Ellen Angel says:

    Joana, you speak English with an American accent. I am going to assume that your formative years living in the US and your excellent ear for accents accounts for that. I am assuming that your family spoke Spanish in the home, as
    both your parents were raised speaking Spanish.
    I too am Venezuelan American, but really I identify as American only, even while I lived in Venezuela for 18 years.
    My mother, and all grandmothers, were born stateside, but my dad and grandfather were born in Cuba and Mexico,
    as their family was living in those countries working for American companies.
    I am much older than you, having lived in Caracas during 50-60s.
    Interestingly, our routes thru life have passed thru many of the same places. I went to Academy la Castellana and Colegio Americano which merged into Colegio International in the 1970. I went to college in Boston, my daughter studied at the Kennedy School,my son in law learned comedy in Chicago,? Second City.
    I am wondering how you became anAmerican citizen, was it thru naturalization, as none of your family is listed as American in your bio?
    I love your Flama routines, and thru them finally recognized that I too speak Spanish with a Venezuelan accent.
    My actress daughter pointed out to me that I drop the ends of any of my words. bueno pue que pas a?

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