“¡Páralo allí! ¡Páralo allí!” shouts the gaudily dressed marionette known as La Comay, ordering the producer to pause a videotaped re-construction of the alibi proffered by a suspected murderer, Pablo Casellas. “Esto me parece muy raro!”
It’s about 6:30 in the evening in Puerto Rico and chances are a huge percentage of television viewers are tuned into Super Xclusivo, the island commonwealth’s highest-rated show, to watch a Miss Piggy-like puppet—voiced by a middle-aged man—give them the latest news.
La Comay (slang for comadre) is holding court as usual with her sidekick, Cuban comedian and producer Héctor Travieso, raging on about the latest unsolved crime she has taken up as a crusade, the murder of marketing executive Carmen Paredes Cintrón. It has been a week and a half since the island’s Department of Justice had declared her husband, Pablo Casellas, as a suspect, but the process was moving too slow for La Comay.
“¡Que bochinche!” she shouts her viral catchphrase, announcing a new round of juicy gossip.
The bizarre puppet orders a video clip played featuring leading radio host Luis Francisco Ojeda badgering an ex-DOJ special prosecutor. “This is a marionette that is doing what the Puerto Rico police won’t do,” insists Ojeda, and his guest agrees. “I think I could do a better job than Somoza!” she cackles, referring to Puerto Rico’s Attorney General Guillermo Somoza Colombani. The sound of a phone ringing is heard, and La Comay, wearing a shimmering black and silver checkered dress, turns to Travieso. “If that’s [Puerto Rico Governor] Fortuño calling, tell him I accept the job of attorney general!” Then she pauses, playfully putting her puppet hand to her puppet lips. “Has there ever been a female attorney general?”
La Comay, voiced by a once struggling comedian named Antulio “Kobbo” Santarrosa, is at the epicenter of a strange conjuncture between entertainment gossip, tabloid journalism, and what some might consider investigative reporting. Her show, which could be described as a cross between TMZ and 60 Minutes, has become a kind of town hall for the small-town culture that permeates the island, with La Comay playing the old lady of the barrio, chief gossip and guardian of the truth. “Santarrosa has used some very specific elements of Puerto Rican culture and exploits them,” said Sandra Rodríguez-Cotto, a publicist and columnist for local newspaper El Vocero.
The show has been on the air for 13 years. In the US, it airs on Wapa America, which is seen in 5.2 million homes. A couple of weeks ago, La Comay and Travieso held one of their typical celebrations when the ratings figures come out. With balloons and confetti flying, Travieso announced that for the period, Super Xclusivo received a 24.1 rating, beating out two episodes of Escobar el Patrón del Mal and American Idol spinoff Idol Puerto Rico. “Thirteeen years in a row,” he shouted, doing a half-step salsa turn.