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Tapas Interview | Henar Álvarez: “I still remember when they asked me what my cache was and I didn’t know what to answer, because I didn’t know any other cache than the computers”

2023 seemed to be the year of Henar Álvarez, although 2022 was not bad for her either. 2024 begins with the launch of her first novel, Ansia (Planeta). And the “only” thing she does is talk. But how!

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Henar Álvarez (September 15, 1984) needs no introduction. She is well known for not “cutting herself off” when it comes to talking about any subject, even sex or women’s pleasure. In short distances she does not disappoint, and overflows the same overwhelming energy that she projects from the numerous podcasts and different programs that request her services, as a collaborator or scriptwriter. She participates in so many podcasts that it is very difficult to keep track of this all-terrain comedian, who has become one of the most prominent voices of female comedy in our country. A position that, without a doubt, she has earned on her own merit.

A little over seven years ago, Álvarez decided to take the next step in his career as a scriptwriter, which he developed in programs such as Esto NO es una serie (Vodafone), daring to change the role for the stage. One of the first ones he got on was the open mind Riot Comedy, where he “tested” his skills as a comedian. “From the beginning the success was bestial”, which pushed her to look for her niche in the world of comedy. And she found it. The “big leap” came shortly after from the hand of columnist and writer Bob Pop, who offered her the opportunity to participate in the program Late Motiv, hosted by Andreu Buenafuente, on Movistar+.

From the “class whore” to the “chochoctora”

His monologue La puta de la clase had an “amazing” response that opened the door to new projects beyond script development. Proof of this is that he managed to attract the attention of Netflix, which hired him to do a monologue at a private party: “I still remember when they asked me what my cache was and I didn’t know what to answer, because I didn’t know any other cache than that of computers. When they told me what they were going to pay me, I almost shit myself with pleasure. At that moment I realized that I had started to play in another league”.

Since then, her career has been unstoppable, and this was just the first stop on a professional journey that seems to have no limits. The next station was the podcast Buenismo Bien, on Cadena Ser, which also meant a before and after in her career, and to which she is still linked as a collaborator. Looking back, she recalls how her interventions have changed over the years, because “at the beginning I even hesitated a little when they gave way to my section”. But what has not changed at all is the fact that she continues to do “whatever comes out of her pussy”. She has even dared to create the character of the “chochoctora”, with which she offers sex tips to women and teaches men how to provoke an orgasm, “or how to perform a proper cunnilingus”. This is just one more proof that Álvarez has set out to break down many of the taboos that still exist around female pleasure, using her best weapons: words and humor.

Henar Álvarez posó para Tapas con vestido de Jean-Paul Gaultier, pendientes de Swarovski, zapatos de Coperni y bolso de Bimba & Lola. Foto: Celine van Heel

But Henar Álvarez’s sense of humor is not something that has come out of nowhere, but has been cooking “over a slow fire”. Her main references, as she herself explains, have been American college comedies, but, above all, the attitude of pop divas, which has been her true “source of inspiration”. These ingredients have led her to create an infallible recipe that she has called “costumbrist humor”: “I talk about life and the things that surround me, but above all about what interests and worries me”.

However, despite his desire to eat up the world of humor in bites, Alvarez confesses that he has often censored himself before “getting into trouble for talking too much”: “I’ve already taken many a beating and I’ve learned not to be the piñata at every party. Grandmothers were right when they told us that at the table you can’t talk about politics, soccer or religion. Although sometimes it’s worth it to see the look on some people’s faces…”. There is no doubt that provocation is in Henar Álvarez’s DNA.

Comedy with a conscience

But, despite the fact that her main objective is to make comedy and to make people laugh, “the more the better”, this comedian also seeks to make a type of humor that gives food for thought and that “stirs consciences”. This is precisely one of the keys to the success of Henar Álvarez, who has managed to find her own identity, and who has helped female humor not only “to take off in recent years, but to consolidate”. A merit that she does not hesitate to share with the creators of the podcast Estirando el chicle, Carolina Iglesias and Victoria Martín, who for her are two great references in this sector of entertainment: “It seems like a century has passed since they started recording the program at Vicky’s parents’ house. It’s incredible how much they have achieved since then…”. Just a note: in 2021 they won the Ondas Award for best podcast.

Álvarez still thinks it is a dream to have been able to perform with them at the WiZink Center in Madrid, in the show Estirando el chicle. The last thread of life: “I said goodbye saying that we deserved it. I think it was the perfect cherry on top of a year in which we had worked very hard, and in which we had gained a lot of repercussion and visibility”. So much so that the mainstream media could no longer deny the scope of this type of humor made by and for women.

Henar se ha caracterizado por abordar sin miramientos temas con mucho tomate. Aquí con vestido de Ernesto Naranjo, pendientes y anillos de Swarovski, y zapatos de Arnek. Foto: Celine van Heel

At this point we asked her if it is frowned upon to recognize one’s own merits, and the humorist cannot help but smile, because she “hates false modesty with all her strength”. She discovers herself as a strong woman, who is confident in her abilities and talent, although, “like everyone, she has her moments…”: “No one has given me anything, and everything I have I have earned thanks to my work and my effort. I think it’s fucking crazy not to have to worry about making ends meet”.

That’s why she encourages all those young girls who want to get into the world of comedy to start writing every day to find their own voice: “The important thing is to have an original point of view and put creativity into humor, even when we’re telling the news about politics that we’ve heard or seen on the news. That’s from the first year of comedy.

The voice of feminism

Not in vain, Alvarez has always been clear that humor is her thing, “you just have to know what your style is and go for it”. A style that the humorist has been polishing, little by little, in the different challenges she has been facing. As evidenced by the next stop on her journey through the world of podcasting, which led her to the feminist program Tramas maestras, on Cadena Ser, which Álvarez guided and presented along with film director Leticia Dolera and humorist Pilar de Francisco. In it, she analyzed the figure of women as objects of desire, and showed her commitment to the struggle for gender equality.

A purpose that she has never abandoned in any of the works she has subsequently developed, although she recognizes that “things have begun to change”. She also admits that there are still many small micromachisms to overcome, so she feels unable to answer the question of when we will definitely remove “that backpack”. What she is clear about is that one of them is the strong aesthetic pressure to which women are still exposed: “The current moment reminds me of my youth, when a lot of eating disorders appeared. The fact of being connected to social networks all day long, and letting ourselves be ‘fooled’ by the image projected by Instagram stories, is very harmful. Life has no filters that are worth, and who more and who less has wrinkles”.

That is why for the humorist it is so important to put on the table the problems that really affect and worry women. A cause that she also continued to champion in her time on the podcast Dos rubias muy legales, together with Raquel Córcoles; and that now, in one way or another, she continues to defend in her most recent work, El Olimpo de las diosas, in Podimo. In the latter, together with Judith Tiral, she not only invites us to see History from a feminine point of view, but also to reflect on the fact that things have not changed so much, and that we have always been concerned about the same things: death, jealousy, love, madness… But she points out that the work to conquer our rights as women is not over, and we must continue to take steps towards a fairer one, since men have to lose their position of “welfare”.

For her, the best example is the different yardstick used to evaluate motherhood or fatherhood. She, as a mother, has not wanted to give up her career, and for this she is sometimes labeled a “bad mother”. And she points out that when a father does the same and “takes his son on weekends to the amusement park, he’s a great dad. It’s a mindset we have to change.

Hunger for challenges

What is clear is that her efforts have been rewarded, and that all her work as a scriptwriter and humorist have helped her to define herself and “gain the necessary muscle” to write better and better. This pushed her a few years ago to “jump into the pool” and publish the graphic novel, La mala leche, together with Ana Müshell. This experience seems to have been not enough for her, and now she has returned to quench her thirst for writing with her first solo work, the erotic thriller Ansia. As it could not be otherwise, in this novel Alvarez speaks uncensored of love dissatisfaction and power relations through his protagonist, Natalia, who is unfaithful to her partner with a man who extorts her.

It is impossible to “pull her tongue” to tell us more about this lucid, funny and exciting fabulation about sexual desire because she wants us to enjoy the story, from beginning to end, as she herself did: “The development of Ansia has been a very long process, but one in which I’ve had a blast. I started this novel two years ago, and during that time I have been putting it down and taking it up again, until this summer I dedicated myself to it body and soul”. The result could not be other than a work of which she feels totally proud, and which has left such a good taste in her mouth that she does not rule out repeating it, “because writing is a real pleasure for her”.

Henar Álvarez’s hunger for trying new things seems to have no end: “I have many projects in mind, the bad thing is that I don’t have much free time. But what I most want to do is some fiction. With Ansia I have achieved it in part, although my next goal is to make a series, a movie, a comedy…”. For her it would be the perfect bite to give way to the next step of her professional menu, where the main course is yet to come.

Eating life

Meanwhile, it seems that Henar Álvarez reserves “room” for one more pleasure: food. As Rigoberta Bandini sang in Canciones de amor a ti, although the humorist is crazy about eating, she can’t even make (almost) a fried egg. It is clear to her that cooking is not her thing and that she does not have the patience to spend two hours preparing a dish that she will end up eating in five minutes, so she prefers to leave this job to the real professionals. Proof of this is the gastronomic guide that he prepares for us to eat Madrid.

For her, the aperitif is synonymous with friends, a good chat, vermouth, a “snack”…. But she never gets so full that she has to give up a “good spoon dish”, as evidenced by the fact that she never resists the cocido madrileño de la Merce at the bar El Extremeño, for only 12 euros; or a “mariscada del proletariado” at Rías Baixas, “which goes for 40 euros and two people eat”.

Nor is he afraid to try less traditional flavors, such as the dim sums and ramen (“to piss your pants”) at the oriental restaurant Xiongzai, dedicated to Winnie the Pooh. Or the proposal of the restaurant Ikigai: “It’s true that it’s not a place you can go every month, but it’s my favorite for when I have something to celebrate. It drives me crazy. There she makes an exception and drinks a “white wine, especially if it’s verdejo”, because, “I can’t help it”, she’s more of a beer drinker.

But Henar Álvarez’s tour has even more stops. We leave the capital of Madrid to go first to Asturias, where “a good bean stew or a stew with collard greens is “tucked between chest and back”, and then fly to the vibrant city of New Orleans: “I was there last summer and I was totally caught”. His mouth waters when he recalls the taste of Cajun food.

There is no doubt that Henar Álvarez’s voracity has no limits, and that she “threatens” to continue eating her life. As one of the pop divas she loves so much, Katy Perry, sings: Bon appétit.