Comedy Central's 'Alternatino' Tackles Gun Violence With "Cultural Assimilation" Sketch

Comedy Central

Playing a Central American immigrant, host Arturo Castro highlights the cultural specificity of mass shootings in American life.

Comedy Central's Alternatino With Arturo Castro will air a sketch highlighting the cultural specificity of American gun violence on Tuesday night's show, just days after a weekend that saw 31 deaths in mass shooting events. 

The sketch, "Welcome to America," focuses on a Central American immigrant to the U.S. named Diego (played by Castro) as he attends a "cultural assimilation" class that touches on American mass shooting events. Initially under the belief that he is safe from gun violence in the U.S., Diego is quickly disillusioned by his teacher, who baffles him with her explanations of why these events occur. 

"Unfortunately, we have that stuff, too [mass shooting in schools]," Castro's character says after his teacher introduces the day's topic. "Two students are in rival cartels and they shoot each other in the school. It's very tragic."

"Okay, in this country, it's more like a single student shoots other students," the teacher responds.

Trying to process the idea, Diego suggests the student could be targeting a rival's family or could be a drug lord, which the teacher denies. "If he is not in a cartel," Diego says finally, frustrated, "then where is he getting his guns?"

"You can get guns anywhere. It's America. I can get you a gun," the teacher says.

At the end of the sketch, Diego announces that he's returning to Central America: "It's super dangerous, but they have rules I can understand."

"Can't argue with that," the teacher says before turning to the topic of opioids. 

"Welcome to America" was originally set to air on last week's Alternatino but was pushed to this week out of sensitivity for the Gilroy, Calif. mass shooting, which took place July 28 and killed three people, injuring 13. Though Castro initially considered moving "Welcome to America" again due to the weekend's shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, he ultimately decided it might contribute to the current conversation on gun violence. The El Paso shooting, which is being investigated as a domestic terrorism event, and the Dayton shooting killed 31 and injured about 50.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Castro offered some explanation behind why he was airing the sketch Tuesday. "After a lot of soul-searching, I realized that it's always going to be too soon as long as we keep allowing this to happen and don't come together to make things change," he said. "In no way am I trying to make light of it. And my voice is all I have, man. My art is all I have, and I have to use it to speak up for things that I care about." 

Watch the sketch and Castro's video explanation below.