Beware The Red Grasshopper, el Chapulin Colorado!

If you were born after 1985 and did not have an aunt or grandmother who watched Spanish language television, you probably have no idea who El Chapulin Colorado is. For a more contemporary example in the English speaking, American world he has been caricatured on The Simpson’s by the loveable Bumblebee Man. As for yours truly, I remember spending hours in front of the television, many of them over the years, literally rolling on the floor laughing (this was many years before “rofl” was used as an expression [or the existence of IM or text message for that matter]) at the heroic antics of El Chapulin.
So who is El Chapulin Colorado?  His name translated means “The Red  grasshopper”. An interesting side note is that the word for grasshopper in this case, chapulin, as actually exclusive to Mexican use. Its etymology comes from an Aztec or Nahuatl word according to the infallible resource, Wikipedia. The Spain-Spanish word for grasshopper is saltamontes. But El Chapulin is more than just his name- he’s a superhero. Sort of. He is recognized by his red and yellow costume (no cape), marvelous antennae, and his heroic chest adorned by a yellow heart bearing the letters “CH”, but believe you me, he is much better than sugar. He also wields a hammer, not unlike the Mighty Thor, called his chipote chillon (squeaky mallet).
No matter where his adventures took him he was instantly recognized. Seriously. It could be the past or the present. It could be London or China. It could be the planet Venus. He could be fighting martians… They all know and respect El Chapulin. His powers seem to include, but are not limited to: flight, teleportation, and his vinyl antennae would blink whenever trouble was near- a grasshopper sense, if you will.

Despite all of his noble attributes, most of his success in battling evil doers came by chance, mistake, or simple coincidence. Think Real American Hero, but more brilliant. He even had his own introduction and set of catchphrases to assist in his heroic witty banter. He was introduced, Más ágil que una tortuga, más fuerte que un ratón, más noble que una lechuga, su escudo es un corazón… ¡Es el Chapulín Colorado!
(More agile than a turtle, stronger than a mouse, nobler than lettuce, his shield is a heart… It’s the Red Grasshopper!)

Some of his choice lines include:
• “¡Síganme los buenos!” (“Good guys, follow my lead!”) — as he would sometimes later on walk into a wall or fell from where he was standing. It would occasionally prompt the villains to say later on “¡Síganme los malos!” (“Bad guys, follow my lead!”)
• “Lo sospeché desde un principio” (“I suspected it all along”) — which he would say after someone pointed out something obvious that he had missed
• “Lo hice intencionalmente, para…” (“I did it intentionally, to…”)- to justify a dumb action, for example: “I did it intentionally to calculate the resistance of the wall”, after walking straight into it.
• “Todos mis movimientos están fríamente calculados” (“All my movements are coldly calculated”) – his explanation for falling on his face, breaking something valuable, etc. May be spoken stand-alone, but always follows the previous quote.
• “Se aprovechan de mi nobleza” (“They take advantage of my nobility”) — which he would usually say after an insult, like “We should’ve called Superman or Batman…”, or when he is forced to do something against his will)
• “Yo opino…” (“In my opinion…”) — a phrase always left unfinished because someone always interrupts him. Sometimes with “¡No opines, Chapulín!” (“Don’t give your opinion, Grasshopper!”), but mostly with others insisting on their point, not letting him bring it up again.
• Also, in trying to provide advice, he would take two traditional two-part Spanish sayings and mix them up, always beginning with “Como dice el viejo y conocido refrán…” (“As the old and well-known saying goes…”). For example, “Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos” (“Raise crows and they’ll pluck your eyes out”; i.e., what goes around comes around) and “Crea fama y échate a dormir” (“Make a name for yourself and then go to sleep”; i.e., once you have made a reputation for yourself, things will take care of themselves) become “Cría cuervos y echate a dormir… No, no, no… Crea buena fama y te sacaran los ojos… No… (in this part, he begins to mix both wrongly said quotes creating an elongated phrase confusing both himself and his listeners) “Bueno, la idea es esa.” (“Raise ravens and then go to sleep… No, no, no… Make a good name for yourself and they’ll peck out your eyes… No… (in this part, he begins to mix both wrongly said quotes creating an elongated phrase confusing both himself and his listeners) Well, that’s the idea.”)
• “Que no cunda el pánico” (“Nobody panic”) would become “Que no panda el cúnico” (“Pabody nonic”).

His show originally started running in 1970 in Mexico. It was aired for many years to follow in countries all over the world. It was actually a pioneer in using Chroma-Key (blue screen) visual effects that might look cheesy now but at the time were about as cutting edge as it got. After the initial run of half-hour shows, El Chapulin eventually found his way into doing miniature adventures and skits on the show, El Chavo del Ocho, which is a whole other animal.
I encourage you to learn more about Mexico’s greatest superhero at www.Chespirito.org.
Here’s a classic clip concerning the mystery of the missing eggs. Trust me… this was groundbreaking stuff.

6 Comments

  1. Muy buen articulo en cuanto a contenido, Me gustaría hablar por muchos mexicanos que no nos sentimos orgullosos de que TELEVISA y el Chavo del ocho, o Chespirito, hayan sido los profesores de una televisión horrible que ha dominado y monopolizado los contenidos para el pueblo mexicano. Esa es la otra realidad, que valdría la pena abordar en tu articulo, sobre todo contextualizando que la televisión mexicana fue un monopolio y el medio por el cual el gobierno controló años y años y que al día de hoy simplemente se convirtió en un duopolio y que si no fuera por los medios alternativos y la Internet, muchos seguiríamos en la miseria viendo contenidos retrogradas horribles, lo peor es que este programa 30 años después se sigue vendiendo y consumiendo en México.

  2. Wow! I Great article!

    **no contaban con mi astucia** (one of my favorite quotes)

  3. Thanks for your article. I also grew up watching El chavo del ocho and Chapulin Colorado por la mañana. They were and still are very popular in Puerto Rico were I’m from.

  4. Great article Eric. I grew up watching El Chapulin Colorado…and man was the chipote chillon popular in El Salvador…we thought El Chapulin said “el cipote chillon.”

    Many kids in Mexico and Central America truly believed that “El Chavo del Ocho” really lived in a barrel.

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