We spent three days in Mexico City — enough time to remember how much I love the city and why I was ready to leave.

Of course, it’s the people I had missed the most. Not just the individuals, but how they interact — with warmth and humor and their hearts on their sleeves. And their sense of humor, a pressure valve to endure the outrageous impunity of the country’s political class. Memes are a global phenomenon of Internet culture, but nowhere are they as creative or hilarious as in Mexico.

Boyhood may be the best movie I’ve seen in the past year, or at least the one that’s stayed with me the longest. When I’ve tried to discuss it with my friends in Mexico, however, it’s been met with a resounding “meh.” It’s true: Boyhood is a fundamentally American experience and it would be a much different movie were it filmed in Mexico. (I hope a young Mexican director consider doing so.)

The same is true of Mexican humor: its genius would no longer be genius were it applied to Anerican circumstance. You can praise politicians like the West Wing or you can paint them as devils like House of Cards, but you can’t make fun of them like a Mexican.

Case in point: Last November, Mexican journalist Carmen Arestegui reported that President Peña Nieto and his wife, soap opera star Angelica Rivera, were living in a $4 million mansion in one of Mexico City’s most exclusive neighborhoods that is owned by a Mexican construction company bidding for lucrative government contracts. The media outcry led Angelica Rivera to record a seven-minute video in which she insists she purchased the mansion with the money she earned as an actress working for Televisa, the larger half of Mexico’s TV duopoly.

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Living Room of the Mansion

 

Bad idea. Angelica Rivera clearly doesn’t spend much time online. An avalanche of parodies soon followed.

Unfortunately, and this is my main point, in order to understand the humor, you need to understand more than just Spanish. You need a deep appreciation for the subtleties of Mexican culture. For those who have lived here, you’re sure to laugh until you cry. Here’s the original video:

And two of my favorite parodies:

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