It only takes a few moments flipping through Spanish-language television channels to come across Mau Nieto.
The comedian – who sports one of the best mustaches in show business – is the co-host of the Latin music competition series “La Academia” (The Academy). The program that airs 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays is a co-production with EstrellaTV (KCBT, Channel 34) and TV Azteca (KBBV, Channel 19).
That program would be enough to keep most people busy but Nieto also hosts the wildly popular “100 Latinos Dijeron” (100 Latinos Said). The game show – that airs 7 p.m. weekdays on EstrellaTV – is based on “Family Feud” format.
Toss in standup specials such as “Living Sober… From the Bar” for Netflix, “LOL: Last One Laughing” on Amazon Prime and the ongoing YouTube series “El Frasco en Vivo” and “Miercocteles” and Nieto is busy around the clock. Even he doesn’t have an idea of how he manages to accomplish so much.
What Nieto does know is that the work on “La Academia” and “100 Latinos Dijeron” is very different in terms of the participants. “La Academia” has Nieto working with competitors who are battling on their own to be the last singer standing. On “100 Latinos,” the participants are working together to win the grand prize.
The very different formats require Nieto to take a different approach to his hosting duties.
“The difference is that ‘100 Latinos’ is a very familiar show. I get to be very comic when talking with the families. You have to engage with the families. You have to feel more empathy,” Nieto says. “When I am with them, I feel the emotion of the family. I am always trying to connect with them.
‘It is very different with ‘La Academia’ because I have to be more critical, maybe. I am a lot more controlled with ‘La Academia.’ But, I have fun doing the two shows at the same time.”
One of the hardest parts of hosting for Nieto is trying to keep his own emotions in check. He wants to see everyone win.
“La Academia” is in its 20th season of having the competition come down to one winner. This season started with 16 participants from Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, United States and Mexico. Live voting throughout the week determines which competitor will move ahead to the next round. Eight contestants remain in this season’s competition.
This year’s group of judges have included Ana Bárbara, Lolita Cortés, Arturo López Gavito and Horacio Villalobos with Aleks Syntek acting as a musical mentor. So far, the series has launched successful music careers for many who have either competed in the series or won the competition including Yuridia, Carlos Rivera and Cynthia Rodríguez.
Nieto is comfortable being the hardest working man in Spanish-language TV with all of his hosting work. But, the Mexico native didn’t start his career with the idea of being the host of two different competition programs.
He launched his career a decade ago working as a standup in Mexico City. He built a following through TV specials and his YouTube shows that attract an average of 500,000 views per episode.
Nieto has been handling hosting duties long enough to have a good idea what skills are necessary to be able to do the job.
“You have to be able to create empathy with the public,” Nieto says. “People who are watching the show need to know that you are one of them. You are not a big TV host. You are one of them.
“I feel like I am part of the audience but in the show. I am the leader of the audience. That’s what I try to do.”
Nieto is certain part of his hosting skills just come naturally. He added to his natural talents through working so much and by watching hosts on programming presented in Spanish and English.
The one host that had the biggest influence on Nieto when he was younger was Paco Stanley who he considers to be the best host who ever worked in Mexico.
“When you were watching one of his TV shows, you felt like he was one of us,” Nieto says. “He was very funny and very nice with everyone.”
Other influences on Nieto’s hosting style include Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Oprah Winfrey. Because he watched numerous episodes of “Family Feud” to get ready for his Spanish-language version of the game show, Nieto got to watch Steve Harvey.
Nieto and Harvey share more than just being the hosts of the same format game show and a great mustache. The one thing Nieto noticed most in terms of the way Harvey works is that he can be very funny with just a silent look.
“I loved that and I try to use that in my show,” Nieto says.