The Latino Comedy Project Sells Out
Local Arts Reviews
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., May 11, 2001
The Latino Comedy Project Sells Out:
Razing the Barrio
Dougherty Arts Center,
through May 12
Running Time: 2 hrs
There's this understandable social boundary in place where it's not constructive or edifying, where it's precisely uncool, for one group of people to lampoon another group of people. Especially across ethnic lines. That this is in vogue -- as one might say decency is (or was during a more Democratic government) in vogue -- is a good thing, if only because we don't need to be riling each other up all the time, especially since we have other (economic, moral) fish to fry. The only thing that's lost is a small portion of comedy, a lite break from serious proceedings. And even that's not lost if groups take it upon themselves to generate a little reflective comic relief, if they hold a slightly twisted mirror up to their own members -- and to the general (read: media) misperceptions put forth about that group. Problem is, it still has to be funny.
The Latino Comedy Project is funny. In their newest sketch anthology, The LCP Sells Out, this troupe presents warped views of Latino life in America -- or, more precisely, what pop culture insists is the look of Latino life in America. Drug dealers, gangbangers, religious fanatics, near obsessive tortilla-eaters: These are the stereotypes the LCP repeatedly pushes into further hyperbole. The show opens with a tone-setting song-and-dance number (which simultaneously parodies the opening of Disney's Beauty and the Beast), ostensibly part of a larger piece called Mijo: The Musical. This also introduces us to the troupe in toto -- excellent, because it's definitely an ensemble show.
The show is built from live skits, projected videos (with "Masa y Sangre" funny enough to bring tears), and not a few songs. Infrequently there's nada but Spanish, but mostly it's vernacular English scorching the air. Sometimes the writing rises above cable (as in "Ranger Reading" and "Buenos Diaz!", a Hollywood-ized version of "Masa y Sangre"), sometimes it falls kinda flat (the Charlie's Angels parody "Angeles"), but the performances are always enthusiastic and well-rehearsed and sometimes exceptional. The show is fast-paced and muy silly, working best when it's more than that: During the recurrent LCP Sells Out frame (written by Adrian Villegas), in which the motivations of Latino artists and celebrities, as well as those of their media exploiters, are subjected to a jesterly scrutinizing. I might have liked the show even more if I were Latino myself, if I were more down with the culture than sporadic shopping excursions to Fiesta allow. But, hey, ese? Did I enjoy this shit? Orale: You bet your ass I did.