“¡No hay nada, sólo Sábado Gigante!”
My dad would declare this every Saturday night. There’s nothing on, except Giant Saturday.” And without hesitation, my whole family would sit around the television to watch.
For every Latino family, Sábado Gigante (Giant/Big Saturday), which airs every sábado night on Univision, is an institution. This Chilean television show (it eventually moved production to Miami) is a mix of The Price is Right, American Idol, SNL and Oprah. Hosted by Don Francisco, each episode consists of comedic sketches, a self-help segment, a touching family reunion, a newly discovered Latino singer, and a car that would be won by an unsuspecting audience member. All of this would happen in no particular order and within the span of three hours. I know, right?! How could this format possibly work? Surprisingly, it did. It worked very well. In fact, the show has managed to run for almost 53 years.
But sadly, all things must come to a fin. After being a long-running staple in Latino households, this gigantic variety show will come to an end in September of this year.When I first heard the news, I wasn’t too heart broken. “Meh, I’m not going to miss it,” I thought. Even though it is an institution, my familia only watched it because, like my dad said, “there’s nothing else on.”
That attitude didn’t last long though. I started thinking about Sábado Gigante and those Saturday nights with my family. And hombre, let me tell you, nostalgia hit hard! The music! The sets! The characters! Oh man, la Cuatro! But especially El Chacal de la trompeta. I assure you there is almost no Latino out there that does not know who these characters are and, for me, el Chacal de la trompeta was always my favorite. How do you describe El Chacal? Well, he came out during the show’s American Idol-style segment, dressed in black and silver with a face mask. If a contestant sang terribly he would blow a trumpet, then everyone would scream, “¡Fuera, fuera!” Get out of here, Get out of here! I know, I know, “What the heck?” But, give it a chance. It’s actually quite hilarious:
And so, after taking a short journey down memory lane, I must admit it. I will miss Sábado Gigante. Yes, I never knew what was going on. I never knew why the camera kept zooming in and out, or what the European-looking supermodels had to do with anything. But I’ve come to realize that it was never about the show itself. For many Latino families, Saturday nights, from 7-10pm, was a time for coming together. Sábado Gigante would be playing in the background, and the conversations and laughter would begin.
¡Ahhh, Latino memories! Thank you Sábado Gigante for being part of our family traditions for 53 years.
Now, ¡Fuera, fuera!
Sabado Gigante logo via Wikipedia under fair use standards, found here.