The world seemed to stop, but it didn’t for writer, director, and co-producer William D. Caballero and producer, playwright, and actress Elaine Del Valle who were busy dreaming up “The United Space of America,” BRIC TV’s first animated political satire. The web series follows Paco Del Pluto and Cornelius Cosmosis, two astronauts from Brooklyn who have been adrift in space for over 30 years and finally make contact with Earth during a Trump-like era. Exploring adult themes of belonging, authoritarianism, political dysfunction, homophobia, classism, and more, the two search through the galaxy to find a more enlightened alien civilization, with the help from Galaxandria, their new galactic pal.
William and Elaine are the Creator/Producer duo that previously worked together to bring “Gran’pa Knows Best” to HBO Latino. Del Valle is also currently guest-starring on the new ABC series Queens. We caught up with them about this season’s bite-size binge—one that reminds us we all have that one uncle who needs a lesson in galactic manners.
"The United Space of America" is a political satire that focuses on division. What did you learn about using humor as a force for good?
Will: “When you turn on the news nowadays, it’s always the same stories highlighting the absurdities of those on the extreme left and the extreme right. These two sides believe so heavily in the righteousness of their own ideologies, that they refuse to see the commonality with anyone who doesn’t hold the same beliefs as them. The only way I can keep myself from going crazy or fearing for the increasing divisiveness of America is through humor. By making fun of those of us who believe in these extremes, in a way that is both witty yet relevant, I hope the show will allow us all to laugh at ourselves, ideally together.”
Elaine: “Humor can disarm audiences, and help them find an understanding of opinions outside of their own.”
What was the most hilarious behind-the-scenes moment for you while working on “The United Space of America?”
William: “Since the show was developed during the pandemic, almost all work had to be done virtually. However, two actors came to my apartment to be shot on green screen: one was Leopold Nunan, the Planet Pansexion ambassador, who came fully dressed in drag. I choreographed and composed a pop song for him to perform on the green screen and it was hilarious watching him improvise and come up with new ideas on the fly. Another was the actor Ron Nery. His role was that of a possessed ambassador infected with a literal hat-sized coronavirus sitting atop his head. Ron had to stare blankly into the camera, expressionless, with drool coming down his mouth. It was all very bizarre indeed.”
Elaine: “Definitely working with the live actors. Victor Cruz was especially hilarious. Victor does stand up and so he is just a great person to be around and truly has a unique sense of comedy.”
The hilarious characters remind us we all have that one uncle who needs a galactic reset on politically correct manners. What was the inspiration behind Paco de Pluto and Cornelius Cosmosis.
William: “Paco is basically my deceased Puerto Rican grandfather (from my Gran’Pa Knows Best’ series), who is both opinionated and biased in everything he does. Cornelius is more based on Al Sharpton, if Al Sharpton was funny, instead of super serious all the time. These two reluctant buddies are similar to Woody and Buzz from Toy Story, with Paco getting easily annoyed at Cornelius.”
Elaine: “We met the great people at Bric TV while pitching another project. We knew we wanted to work together and came up with an idea to match the budget we had to work within. Our characters are always an amalgamation of people we have met. William and I have often focused our works on older people who are set in their opinions. Our past projects include Gran’pa Knows Best and Victor and Isolina. Both were on HBO.”
In the new web series, Galexandria is a celestial voice of reason that tries to help men that have lost their way, in more ways than one. All jokes aside, who has that voice of reason been for you?
William: “Galaxandria is perhaps very much like my mother: strict, discerning, helpful, and quite stressed. My mother has always been there for me, helping to guide me down a path of success. Without her, I too would be drifting alone in the cosmos…”
Elaine: “For me, that voice of reason has always been my Mother, Carmen Medina. She was like the Puerto Rican, Female Doctor Phil of the ghetto. My mom would invite people to our kitchen window, where they would look out from our twelfth floor and release their problems. My Mom never finished high school, but she always listened with an open heart, and had a strong sense of right and wrong.”
What advice would you give to aspiring creatives ready to launch new work?
William: “My advice to creative people of color is this: “if we don’t tell our own stories in our own unique voice, someone else will.”
Elaine: “Keep Learning and Experimenting, and make work that you believe in. In the end, the work has to matter to you.”
“The United Space of America” premieres on BRIC TV, Brooklyn’s only non-profit cable channel and digital network, and streams on multiple platforms, including YouTube. Tune in to laugh and also to think.