Juan Carlos Mesa, Argentine humorist, Died at 86


Juan Carlos Mesa was born on May 15, 1930, in Córdoba, Argentina and died on August 2, 2016.

He was an Argentine humorist, screenwriter, and director.

After a stint as a writer in Uruguay for a sitcom, Telecataplum, Mesa started his career in Argentine television in 1967 as a junior writer for comedian Carlos Balá and first collaborated on a film script in 1971, with Enrique Carreras’ family comedy, El veraneo de los Campanelli.

Juan Carlos Mesa was reunited with Carreras for the film’s 1972 sequel, wrote later that year for Fernando Siro in his picaresque comedy, Autocine mon amour, and in 1976, earned his first credit as lead writer in Palito Ortega’s Dos locos en el aire.

Juan started writing for leading local television comic Tato Bores in 1980, Mesa first became widely known as a performer on the radio, rather than on the screen, with his popular Radio Mitre show, Tenis de mesa; the name of the show (“table tennis”) was a play on his own last name, a witticism that became part of his act on many of his subsequent productions.

It could be said that most successful of these was Mesa de noticias (“News Desk”).

The primetime sitcom premiered in 1983, set Mesa in a struggling network news program as its hapless programming director, and ran until 1987, appealing to audiences of an unusually varied demographic.

Mesa’s leading co-star, Italian actor Gianni Lunadei, joined Mesa in 1991 for a less successful spin-off, El gordo y el flaco (akin to Laurel and Hardy).

Mesa went on to write for cinema, as well, working with the best-known local comedy duo of the 1980s, Alberto Olmedo and Jorge Porcel (whose wiry and portly physiques, respectively, mirrored those of Lunadei and Mesa, somewhat).

Mesa script for the boot camp comedy Los colimbas se divierten (1986) was followed by the Olmedo-Porcel duo’s last, the 1988 gender-bender Atracción peculiar.

After Alberto Olmedo’s death in 1988, and Porcel’s departure for Miami Beach, Mesa’s career declined somewhat.

He worked mainly on radio, he worked with his brother Edgardo and son, Juan Martín, in El Surtidor (“The Dispenser”), a variety show complete with astrology forecasts.

Juan reemerged on television, however, as the chief writer and in a supporting role in a 2003 sitcom, Dr. Amor (played by Arturo Puig, who had become well-known among younger audiences in the United States in the PBS educational series, Destinos).

Mesa returned Radio Mire in 2006 with a segment, Río con Mesa, on Lalo Mir’s top-rated Animados, and portrayed Noah in a voice-over role for an award-winning 2007 animated film, El arca (“The Ark”).

Juan Carlos Mesa passed away at 86 years old.