Their hilarious live shows and YouTube videos have won them a worldwide following; later this month, they’ll hit our TV screens with their first series for RTP. Vaughan Willmore speaks to Derrick DeMelo from the comedy group, The Portuguese Kids.
What’s it like growing up in a Portuguese household? Well, with their comedy group, The Portuguese Kids, Derrick DeMelo and Brian Martins provide a wonderfully funny insight into a life few of us ever get to see or experience.
Derrick and Brian formed The Portuguese Kids nearly ten years ago, giving up well-paid careers to go full-time as comedians. As Derrick said, “When you’re in your early 30s and tell your Portuguese parents you’re leaving your job and setting up your own business as a professional comedian, you can expect quite a few interesting reactions!” Thankfully, Derrick and Brian had the courage of their convictions and are now reaping the reward with a new series about to launch on the Portuguese state broadcaster, RTP.
Born and raised in the city of Fall River (in Massachusetts, in the US), Derrick and Brian Martins share a lifelong friendship and a similar sense of humour. They also share a similar upbringing in that whilst they were both born in the US, they grew up in very Portuguese-orientated households. It’s from here that much of their humour derives, namely their wonderful ability to see the funny side of growing up as children of Portuguese parents, whilst living in a culture far different to that which their parents experienced back in Portugal. It also helps that they live in Fall River, a city which Derrick describes as “something of a Portuguese enclave, with 60% of the population being of Portuguese heritage”.
Derrick and Brian’s humour is also very clever. Whilst they find comedy in their shared heritage, they could never be accused of making fun of that heritage. Rather, their comedy is endearing and gives a sense of how proud they are of their upbringing and connections to Portugal. Another notable aspect that has emerged from their work is how relatable their comedy is to all nationalities. Whilst set in a Portuguese context, it draws upon themes which are common to many nationalities and especially children of first-generation immigrants.
As The Portuguese Kids, they’ve performed in Portugal, the US and Canada, and gained a worldwide following thanks to their YouTube channel, which features nearly 300 videos, many of which have attracted over 100,000 views. The videos include relatable and funny topics such as ‘Portuguese Dad at Disney’, ‘Portuguese Parents Stuck in Quarantine’, ‘I’m not yelling, I’m Portuguese’ and ‘Dating in a Portuguese Home’. Derrick and Brian are the lead actors and writers, but there is often an ensemble cast of friends and fellow comedians, which gives their performances added energy and variety.
Their videos and live shows have proved so popular that, three years ago, they were approached by executives from RTP. Derrick explained, “RTP contacted us just before the pandemic. They’d seen our videos and were really keen to do something together. There was talk about reformulating our YouTube videos, but we wanted to do something more than that, so we produced a pilot episode of what we had in mind and RTP liked it so much they commissioned a six-episode series. It’s been fantastic working with them; the production values are out of this world and we’re super excited to see how people react.”
The series took two years to write and film and when we spoke, Derrick and Brian were in the last stages of editing. There will be six episodes, each lasting 25 minutes. I was keen to know in what language they’d recorded the show, given that their videos are in English (with a healthy sprinkling of Portuguese) and the series will be aired on Portuguese television. “It’s in English”, said Derrick, “because that’s where our fanbase is, albeit we have increased the Portuguese a little. We now call it our version of PortEnglish!”
These are exciting times for The Portuguese Kids and their many fans. To be offered a commission by RTP is a fantastic achievement and a just reward for their hard work and creative energy. Everyone at Tomorrow is eagerly awaiting their new series, which is scheduled to premier on RTP in the next few weeks.