Star Wars Satire ¡Estar Guars! Gets Laughs and Gets Political
Latino Comedy Project takes on planetary issues
By Savannah J Salazar,
7:00AM, Wed. May 1, 2019
Looks like a galaxy far, far away is coming to “a barrio just along the way.”
The Latino Comedy Project, a comedy sketch group led by artistic director Adrian Villegas, is back with its latest show, a Star Wars satire appropriately enough called ¡Estar Guars!. It imagines an alternative universe where George Lucas is Jorge Lucas. When Villegas first came up with the idea of the show, he asked himself, “What if [Jorge] created a Star Wars that was filled with the things he was obsessed with. What would that look like?”
Well, that ¡Estar Guars! looks like a small, wise abuelita named Yola. And a Tio Juan Kenobi helping a migrant kid from a “rancho de moisture” to find a Princesa, who can fight her own battles. Throw in Han Cholo and Chuy-bacca, and this motley crew is prepared to take on some space chanclas and fight against a Vader-inspired, Darth Vendido wearing a luchador mask.
The show falls perfectly (and deliberately) on the weekend of May the Fourth and Cinco de Mayo, and Villegas hopes this is the first of what may become an annual geek-inspired event that encourages the audience to come for their love of Star Wars and stay for sci-fi stories with a Latinx bent.
¡Estar Guars! even jumps to the screen with multimedia to help the audience get its head in the stars. Villegas said this show is one of their most visual yet. Expect professional lighting, puppeteering, and pre-recorded video with visual effects in addition to the troupe's onstage performance to transport the audience to another galaxy.
Not only are some of your favorite locations and characters onstage, but they are put in situations that have a Latinx twist. Princesa Leia Organa-Cortez is partly inspired by current U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Barbara Mojica, who plays Princesa, says “having a woman in a leadership position like that in our political climate is inspiring for a lot of us. And [my character] Princesa is very similar to that. She has an objective and just wants to get things done.”
While it’s important to make the audience laugh, it wouldn’t be an LCP show without making a statement. ¡Estar Guars! is the LCP's follow up to their wildly popular 2017 show Gentrifucked, which tackled the effects of gentrification on minority communities. Gentrifucked brought the LCP to a more national audience, selling out shows in California and here in Austin. Like most of the LCP's shows, ¡Estar Guars! is set to pack a punch comedically and socially. Han Cholo actor Andy Gonzalez-Bendiksen says, “The biggest thing was how shocked I was when I saw it. I thought it was just gonna be silly, no mames. But no, instead it's very powerful and a good message.”
There had to be some nuance to ¡Estar Guars! The goal was to use the accessible, beloved space franchise to talk about issues around the current political climate, in addition to the requisite laughs, of course. “Sometimes I was just cool with getting a smart laugh,” Villegas says. “But now I feel like it's not worth doing if you're not doing something that's really human at the same time.” To that end, the show features the Resistencia taking on a Galactic Wall, ICE (Imperial Clone Enforcement) Troopers, and an evil emperor who just wants to “Make the Galaxy Great Again.”
Villegas says writing a Star Wars show for the LCP was inevitable. It’s been a part of his creative fabric since A New Hope was released in 1977. He just wanted to make sure he could pull it off. “The hardest part was getting the parody, the politics, the emotion, the current events, the comedy, the sci-fi geekiness, all that stuff into one pot and not having it be a total mess, but I’m excited.”