The Blackout Theatre troupe put its “Sh*t Burqueños Say” video on You-Tube on Feb. 7 about 2 in the afternoon. When they checked that night, the minute-and-a-half clip had been viewed 87 times.
The next morning, it was at 22,000. That afternoon, it was at 77,000, and then — as Albuquerqueans like to say — “omberrrs!”
The video, passed through local word of mouth and via social networks, became must-watch comedy. It reached over 220,000 views within two days.
“Sh*t Burqueños Say” is a little love letter to the linguistic oddities of native Albuquerqueans, although many of its featured phrases and pronunciations will sound familiar to people from Santa Fe or Clovis or Raton or Socorro.
It’s nearly impossible to describe a funny video in print, so I won’t try. Check out the original and the follow-up released just yesterday (there are links on our home page) and enjoy for yourself “sangwitch” and “melk” and “Are we going, or no?” and “omberrrs!” (New Mexican for “uh-oh!”).
You’ll know you’re a real New Mexican if your reaction is “I haven’t laughed so hard in forevers.”
The Blackout Theatre members – all between the ages of 21 and 36, all from New Mexico and all very funny – laugh a lot and look at being in Albuquerque as a blessing, not a backwater curse.
Blackout started as a sketch comedy and improv group in 2007. Its members met at the University of New Mexico, and they still put on a monthly improv show as well as staging original plays and running a playwriting program for about 400 students in the Albuquerque Public Schools.
Their viral success with “Sh*t Burqueños Say” has caught them by surprise. Two of their more successful earlier videos, (a hilarious “La Llorona” takeoff of the The Knack’s “My Sharona” and the sad day-in-the-life of a married puppet called (“The Real Pinocchio”) both had only about 1,500 views.
The viral video stars troupe member Lauren Poole, a native of Santa Fe, playing Lynette, a chola with a heart of gold she developed as an improv character. To become Lynette, Poole puts her hair up, draws on some dark eyebrows, outlines her lips and adopts the unmistakable Albuquerque accent and vocabulary.
With success comes critique, and while most of the reaction to the video has been positive, a few people have seen it as a slight.
As we might say in Albuquerque, “Are you all mad or no?”
Troupe member Leonard Madrid, a native of Portales, said no offense was meant at all.
“We’re proud New Mexicans,” he said. “We’re proud to celebrate who we are and where we’re from. We’re not making fun of where we’re from.”
Troupe member Chris Walsh (hometown: Los Lunas) points out that “The title is ‘Sh*t Burqueños Say’ not ‘Smart and Intelligent Things Burqueños say.’ ” And that the phrases in the video are all part of their own vocabularies.
“This was done from such a place of love,” troupe member Heather Yeo (Albuquerque girl) said. “This is like our ode to New Mexico, but we’re silly people, we’re comedians.”
The first video was only an introduction to Burque-speak. The second is more encyclopedic, including such classics as “melp you?” (may I help you?); “landed up” (ended up), “eeeeee” (“ooh-la-la”), “bueno bye” and “mira, look!” (goodbye and look!) and the dropped consonants that turn mittens into mih-ens and buttons into buh-ons as well as the serial pluralizing that has us going to Sonics and Walmarts and Flying Stars.
Everyone in the troupe has another job – teaching, working at after-school programs, bartending. They’re hopeful that the attention “Sh*t Burqueños Say” is drawing will drum up more interest in Blackout’s other pursuits.
“We came into this with like no expectations, and it’s exceeded our wildest dreams,” Yeo said. “And if it all went away tomorrow, we’d all be doing the same things we’re doing now.”
UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Leslie Linthicum at 823-3914 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to www.abqjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal