Q&A With Ms Vale Tarde Host Alex Cambert

Más Vale Tarde (Better Late), the first-ever national Spanish-language late-night talk show, premieres Nov. 29 on Telemundo and will be hosted by Alex Cambert, the Cuban-American comedian that has been dubbed the Latino Jay Leno, the Spanish-speaking Jerry Seinfeld and even the next David Letterman. The hour-long weekly show will feature celebrities and interviews in English and Spanish and will be shot in front of a live audience at Telemundo’s studios in Universal CityWalk. Hispanic Television Update spoke to Cambert about his upcoming show and how he intends to keep Latinos awake … and laughing. An edited transcript follows:

Q: You are soon to become the host of the first late-night show coming from the Spanish-language broadcasters. How do you feel?

A: I feel great! There are so many emotions that you go through, there are so many ups and downs. When something is a dream, you have a dream in your head and in your head it’s perfect and then when you do it, you go ‘Oh, I didn’t imagine this, I didn’t know that, this is unexpected!’ We’ll have a digital component, so that’s cool! I guess I’m excited, I’m nervous; I’m scared. I just want that first [show] to be over already. I feel like a virgin on prom night.

Q: Have you already recorded the first show?

A: No. We will tape it on Nov. 28 (the day before it airs). I want this show to be fresh. When things are taped too far in advance, they become stale; and I hate stale television. [Latinos] deserve something new and interesting, something that talks about the events of the week, and the guests have to be current.

Q: Who will be your first guest?

A: We are negotiating that right now and I can’t tell you. They’re putting tape on my mouth! But I can tell you the way I want to have this show is: it will have a Hollywood component which will be primarily in English and it will have a top Latino star, who can be someone from a telenovela, for instance. Then we’ll have a musical act. It’s very traditional in the so-called late-night format, where we’ll have multiple guests. It’s not just one guest and an hour with that person.

Q: You will be interviewing celebrities in either English or Spanish… do you think the Telemundo audience is ready for a bilingual show?

A: I have asked every single member of the Telemundo audience (that’s why it’s taken me so long!) and 99.7% said “yes, we are ready for a bilingual show.” I think people are ready. I’m not one of those people that believes in pre-conceived notions and stereotypes. Talking to friends and to people who are young and bilingual, I realized they want this type of programming. This is the program we have been waiting for in many ways (I personally have been waiting for) I think this show is reflective of who we are as young, acculturated, bilingual people living in this country.

Q: The media have called the Latin Jay Leno, the new Letterman and even a Cuban-American version of Jerry Seinfeld… Who do you want to be?

A: I want to be me. I think is very flattering that people say that because it’s a point of reference, but you’ll see who I am as the show develops. Late-night in particular is a genre where you get to know the host. It will definitely have my stamp all over. More people will be sleeping with me than with Paris Hilton (well, maybe not). People will get to know me through the show.

Q: Being funny in these days of Political Correctness must be tough; how do you go about using humor and at the same time talking for, and about, U.S. Hispanics?

A: I am not a malicious person by nature, so I don’t worry about that kind of stuff. What I’m worried about is: ‘is this funny?’ is my audience having a good time?’ And if I can bring a smile to your face, that’s all I need. Some people may not like some things -- he’s too this, too that, too Cuban, blah, blah, blah. I’m tired of that. I want to have a good time. I want to offer a new point of view. To me whether is PC or not, it’s not important. Sometimes PC is false and comedy strives to be true.

Q: Will you be up for a daily show?

A: Do you think the audience will be up for a daily? When [Telemundo’s president] Don Browne and I started talking about this, we talked very intensely and I wanted to make sure we had one really good one night a week. When you start too big and too broad, and you get ahead of yourself, you get into trouble. This is new! We don’t have a late-night. So there’s no rush to go five times a week … yet. I want the appetite to be there before going daily. I want to build this slowly. This is a long-term project for Telemundo and NBC Universal.

Q: You will be competing with Univision’s late night newscast. Why would Hispanics tune in your show at that time slot?

A: It’s two very different audiences; we are going to speak to our people in a relevant way. I want to have a show with Juanes and Sandra Bullock; imagine that interesting mix. No one else will be able to do that! So, if you want to go to bed with a smile, you’d better watch Más Vale Tarde.