When Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump announced his candidacy this year amid a slew of offensive comments about Mexico and Latinos, a number of his commercial partners in the US and Mexico cut ties.
But for those here who don’t have the financial clout to punish Mr. Trump for tagging them as rapists and criminals, there’s another tool at hand: humor.
Mexicans are selling Trump piñatas with little papier-mâché hands raised up as if prepared to spit insults, primed for some therapeutic swings. Musicians have whipped up ballads lampooning him, like the one by Los Tres Tristes Tigres, which peppers its chorus with double-entendres not fit to print. A group of young programmers created a cell phone app where users can toss cactus paddles at the candidate and dress him up as a chicken when he says things like, “Immigrants born in the US are not citizens.”
Among the most elaborate lampoons of "The Donald" is a new play, “The Sons of Trump” – a nearly 90-minute-long string of slapstick skits lambasting a grunting, insult-hurling Trump and his wealthy, witless peers. On a recent Sunday evening, an auditorium full of Trump detractors sat belly laughing in approval.
Actors with the trademark poof of hair popped up in each scene, directed at the start of the show by the animated face of Trump on the front of a $100 dollar bill projected on stage. “You must steal, kill, blame others,” the faux Trump told his on-stage protégés, after they had been "coronated" with yellow wigs in a ceremony set to the tune of The Star Spangled Banner.
“It seems better to laugh at someone like Donald Trump than let him agitate and anger you,” says Hugo Cordoba, who came to the opening weekend with his parents and grandfather, and counts himself among those appalled by Trump’s candidacy.
"The Sons of Trump" is actually an adaptation of another play lambasting wealthy global financiers; both are produced by a popular comedy duo, The Mascabrothers. Freddy Ortega, one of the duo, told local media last week: “We think it’s the ideal moment to make fun of someone who doesn’t have the moral standing to talk about Mexicans and immigrants."
More than just Trump
The show's humor isn't particularly sophisticated. The script seems to largely comprise grunts and groans in place of dialogue, and it relies heavily on out-of-shape men donning very tight, or very few, clothes.
But for audience members like Amelia Tese, a retired school teacher, the verbal digs let her laugh at more than just Trump. Though the US billionaire has offended Mexicans in his own right, frustration with Mexico's blithe super-rich is also potent here.
“Trump discriminates and thinks his money gives him the right to talk and act how he does,” says Ms. Tese. “But that kind of thing happens in Mexico, too.” The wealthy seem to “exist on another planet,” she says.
In one skit, two Trump-looking men in a fancy restaurant walk around talking on their cell phones, accidentally splashing their pricey beverages on the waiter – and the audience – with no acknowledgment of their existence.
That kind of elitism has repeatedly sparked public outcry in Mexico, like when the daughter of a government official threatened to have a restaurant shut down for not giving her the table she wanted, or when the former water commissioner was caught using a government helicopter for personal transportation.
Still, at the end of the day, the play is primarily about pricking Trump's ego. And his American popularity frustrates José Martin, who last visited the US about 20 years ago, but says he "still feels the connection" with his neighbors to the north.
“In my mind, Trump is just as much a caricature in real life as he was on stage,” says Mr. Martin, following the show. He’s leaning on a podium with the US presidential seal that was earlier used by the theater's ushers. “But what about all the people supporting him in the polls,” he asks, eyebrows raised. “That’s where it gets harder to laugh.”