4th Annual Austin Latino Comedy Fiesta

Local Arts Reviews

Latino Comedy Project
Latino Comedy Project

Fourth Annual Austin Latino Comedy Fiesta: Funny by Any Other Name

Paramount Theatre,

August 17

Running Time: 3 hrs

All the acts taking part in this year's Austin Latino Comedy Fiesta in the Paramount Theatre on Saturday night did a great job of working the crowd (cake by comedy standards -- not a single heckle), with Pablo Francisco, the headliner, almost zinging. In my opinion, however, heralding the evening as a celebration of the Latino laughter community puts limits on the source material. Almost every performer felt obliged to honor the fourth edition of this annual Latino comedy event either by saying ese, buey, or pendejo at some point, or by imitating a Latina in a wildcat street-fight. Most acts did both.

Pablo Francisco
Pablo Francisco

Hopefully the troupe's title derives from some hefty grants because the Latino Comedy Project, when not applied to a Swedish opera singer, is a name devoid of humor, begging for charity laughs. Fortunately, most of the Project's skits belie their sterile name. To set the tone, an INS agent held up a brown bag and declared that any member of the audience darker than such would be immediately deported. Like a Saturday Night Live spoof that (actually) works, the Project's game show skit was funny and accurate. The troupe parodied both Mexican American TV and Latino machismo as a female contestant correctly answered the question "How often does your husband give you El Orgasmo?" by guffawing at length. A personal highlight was "Uncle Pepe's Home Video," which culminated in Pepe's fearsome Tecate rant against Osama bin Laden: "Pepe will give you one of these, ay, ay?"

Justin Sanders, the opener, probably had the timing right in rehearsal, but adrenaline had his punchlines occasionally running into set-ups and vice versa. On the night this writer attended, Sanders' strongest gag involved the wife's buddy who keeps up with the wife's exes: "Paul got a big promotion in the bank. How's that little comedy thing working out for you, Justin?"

"My Mom is so Mexican," reads Jesse Pangelinan's T-shirt. Among other things, he accuses Sra Pangelinan of giving him a "life-size" crucifix, of avenging Guadalupe by Spanish-izing English street names, and of threatening to make horse-head barbacoa.

Pablo Francisco is a gas. A gifted mimic, especially in song, dance, and humping, he specializes in an ass-slapping noise as well as a noise indicating an ugly face. Francisco's subjects are as objectionable and unoriginal as his technique is mighty and unique. He talks about all techno songs sounding the same, the chorizo-colored mole on Aaron Neville's face, and how Indian people sound funny when they sing karaoke.

But hearing exact mimicry of beats and lasers from a techno song, hearing Aaron Neville's voice shaken to perfection, or seeing Francisco point to his forehead while singing "Another one bites the dot" in a passable Indian accent, even the staunchest raver, Neville fan, or advocate for political correctness would struggle to keep a straight face. Francisco fails to be funny only when he rages at the jerk shooting a pirate video of his show from the front row. As the comic stamps his foot and shouts something like "Get this guy out of here!" it sounds like an extension of his Ricky Martin impression.

When he doesn't take himself too seriously, Pablo Francisco is a brilliant comic. The Latino Comedy Project is a riotous crew, and both Pangelinan and Sanders promise much for the future. The Latino Comedy Fiesta did not demand innovation from these people. The format reminds me of the Irish comic who recently played to an expatriate crowd in O'Reilly's Bar, New York. The Irishman ran onstage, said "red lemonade" (akin to a Mexican saying "Jarrito") and received a two-minute ovation. I would like to see these entertainers in a less controlled format.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Arts Reviews
Arts Review
Nick Offerman
The audience came seeking cult icon Ron Swanson, and that's who Nick Offerman gave them

Dan Solomon, May 4, 2012

Experience Joy
Experience Joy
The quality comedy at SXSW 2012 is worth making extra time for

Dan Solomon, March 16, 2012

More by Rob Curran
Holy Cross Sucks!
Local Arts Reviews

May 23, 2003

"Pertaining to Painting"
Local Arts Reviews

Dec. 27, 2002


4th Annual Austin Latino Comedy Fiesta, Teatro Humanidad, Pablo Francisco, Justin Sanders, Jesse Pangelinan, Latino Comedy Project

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle