Above is a gif of the faces of a group of young skaters when a very, very old man grabs a skateboard and drops in on a ramp.
The reality, of course, is that this is no granddad, but rather Danny León, a famous Spanish skater from Madrid. And the supreme skating display wasn’t something that just happened, but part of a hidden-camera stunt for Spanish TV show El Hormiguero.
The idea came to me from a video where an old man was challenging a guy in a boxing ring”
As the name of the video suggests – Las aparencias engañan – appearances can often be deceiving, as the viewers of the show, presented by Pablo Motos, saw for themselves when the segment was broadcast on Monday night. Nearly 250,000 others have also since watched the prank on YouTube.
On a normal afternoon, a group of seniors – among whom is Danny León, heavily made up as an octogenarian – approaches one of the skate parks in the Madrid Río park. “We have paid to enter, just like you,” says one of the old ladies to a group of youngsters who seem at a loss as to why a bunch of old people is invading their park.
The full video of El Hormiguero’s stunt.
“The idea came to me when I saw another video in which an old man was challenging a young guy in a boxing ring. But we preferred to adapt it to skateboarders because we didn’t want to take a confrontational stance, but rather something fun that would show old folk in a good light,” explains Jordi Moltó, a scriptwriter for the Antena 3 show.
Jordi has spent years “writing comedy with old people, but always in a very respectful way.” They have often used these kinds of pranks at El Hormiguero, and used to have a section called “Close Encounters of the Third Age,” as the elderly are referred to in Spain (tercera edad).
“I hold auditions in senior centers,” explains Jordi. “Some of them take acting classes and they are the ones who love to take part. It sometimes helps their self-esteem too, allowing them to feel they are still able to do something useful. I’ve also worked with people who have been widowed, and taking part in something like this and appearing on TV is really exciting for them.”
This particular video features Isidora, Emilio, José and Casimira, who are from the Madrid satellite towns of Coslada and San Fernando de Henares, and have taken part in other videos for the show.
When the “old man” steps on to his skateboard, the youngsters all think he’s going to fall over, so they help him up while trying to stifle their giggles. After the initial confusion, the youngsters and passers-by start freaking out, literally, when they see how well the grandpa can skate. “The reactions are completely spontaneous, they’re totally honest,” explains Moltó. “They can’t believe what they’re seeing and they throw their hands up to their heads. Just when they started thinking that it was a hidden-camera prank, Danny León started to do some impossible twists and our cover was blown. Everyone thought it was hilarious.”
The guys who did it even asked Danny for photos of his father and his grandfather – it was so realistic”
As for Danny, he had to learn how to move like a senior, how to speak, and how to fake a limp. “The character work was fantastic,” Moltó says. “The guys who did it even asked Danny for photos of his father and his grandfather – it was so realistic.” But as soon as he stepped on a skateboard, his true age was clear for all to see.
The formula for the set-up is a lot like the one used in another video that was a big hit several years ago. A Pepsi ad in which NBA player Kyrie Irving was disguised as an old timer has had 38 million plays on YouTube. “Yeah, there is that ad, but the truth is I wasn’t thinking about that one, so much as the one with the old guy boxing. In any case, I’m really happy because people liked it. Comedy with old people is always really funny to me, and it’s always good to see them come out on top.”
In the case of the senior skater, and as one of the ladies who accompanies him says at the end of the video, “You showed them what’s up!”