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Uptown Comedian Behind Viral Hit Stars in New WaHi-Based Web Series

Uptown Comedian Behind Viral Hit Stars in New WaHi-Based Web Series
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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Michael Diaz, the Uptown comedian behind 2011’s viral rap parody “Pan Con Queso,” is back with a new web series based in Washington Heights.

In “Ask Bago,” which appears on Univision’s new entertainment site Flama, Diaz plays a version of his comic alter ego, Juan Bago, who dispenses advice on everything from online dating to apartment hunting.

Diaz thinks of Bago as a young, Latino version of “Dear Abby,” who happens to be terrible at his job. 

“He’s coming from a good place,” Diaz said. “He wants to help out, but he’s not all there when it comes to giving advice.”

In the first episode, which aired on Monday, Bago tries to help lovesick Edwin win back his ex-girlfriend, Karina. Crouching behind a large pile of dirt in Fort Tryon Park, Bago uses a Bluetooth device to feed Edwin lines while he talks to Karina on a nearby park bench.

“Are you OK, Edwin?” Karina asks. “Because you’re acting like a crazy, overly dressed homeless guy right now.”

In the end, Bago manages to bring Edwin and Karina together despite his disastrous plan.

Diaz has filmed four episodes so far, all set in Washington Heights.

“I try no matter what platform I’m working on it to get Washington Heights in there, including some local talent,” said Diaz, who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years.

Diaz said he is excited to be working with Flama, which launched as a YouTube channel last year and started its own site in April 2014. The goal is to reach an audience of second- and third-generation Latinos who may not be drawn to traditional Univision programming. Flama recently had a video go viral, drawing 3 million views for “Spanish Words White People Can’t Say.”

“To me, they get it. They understand the audience and how to create smart, funny, witty content,” Diaz said. “It’s great to see people on the small screen who reflect us.”

Yamin Segal, director of programming at Flama and co-creator of the web series "East Willy B," said “Ask Bago” has gotten a very positive response.

“We’ve seen people talk about how they relate to it. People are tagging their friends on Facebook who’ve been through similar things to the characters,” he said. “If we keep seeing this kind of engagement, we’ll invest in more episodes.”

Segal noted that he and Diaz hope to make the series more interactive in the future by allowing viewers to write in with problems for which they need advice.

He said that Diaz brings a new and welcome element to Flama.

“For me what Bago brings is that really strong New York Latino voice and a voice from the Dominican community,” Segal said.