As with any John Leguizamo theater performance, you get a strong sense of Latin culture, him manically controlling your attention and, with the subject matter, he even educates you a little bit.
|Venue||The Public Theater|
|Venue Address||New York, NY|
|Genre(s)||One Man Show|
|Good If You Like||Stand Up Comedy|
Nearly all of your favorite characters of Leguizamo are back. Be it his Jewish wife, his mother, deaf uncle Sandy, and now we have his son and daughter. They help him craft this story about self-discovery of what it means to be from Latin America, of what historical heroes his children can look up to. For, if you rely on the textbooks and media, what will they have? Entertainers, yes. But nix out Hollywood and the music industry and who is a recognizable name? Do you know the story of Montezuma and the fall of the Aztecs? Do you know about Andrew Jackson and the trail of tears? If not, Latin History For Morons will give you books, names, and statistics to help start you on the same journey John is on.
The Characters & Accents
For those familiar with John’s past work, a lot of those old characters are back. His wife to a certain degree, dear gay uncle Sandy, and imitations of historic figures. With that, John implements multiple accents, sometimes dons wigs and hats, and honestly becomes the most entertaining history professor you will ever get. For even though he is mocking some historic figures, like Montezuma, by making them effeminate, by doing so he makes them memorable. Leading to our next topic.
You Feel Like You Really Learned Something
Speaking from personal experience, the problem with learning history is that usually, while the teacher is a history buff, they are also dull as bricks. That or, as John experienced, so condescending that you take no interest in what they are saying. However, with John, he does everything he can to spark an interest. He, as noted, dons wigs, does accents, but it isn’t all fun and games. John cites various books he used, gives various statistics, and you can see as much as this could be touted as simply a comedy show, he really does want you to know more about Latin history than simply the Mayan calendar.
He Works The Room
Unfortunately, The Public Theater used the theater with orchestra seating for John’s setup. Due to that, you sometimes feel you are missing out on something. Be it something he writes on his board, which is part of his jokes, or the facial expression of his characters. Yet, you never feel abandoned or SOL. John takes note of those who would be in his peripheral vision if he was only focused on those in front of him. He engages with those who bought “partial view” seating and makes it where you don’t end up feeling you didn’t get the most of the show since you decided to be a bit more economical with your ticket purchase.
On The Fence
How He Uses Statistics
While you do feel like you are learning things, at the same time John is using these stories and stats he got to both educate and entertain you. So, when something is starting to get too technical, too deep, something which can’t transition into a joke, or he feels is getting boring, he drops it. Which, for the most part, was fine. However, it does push you to want to do follow ups just to see which stories were embellished and what were true to his words. Though one could argue, the point was just sparking an interest, not having a real Latin History for Morons class.
Overall: Mixed (Video Recording)
While John still seems to be an actor who is better on stage than on the big or silver screen, this show isn’t on the same level as his previous work. For while Latin History for Morons is still very much personal, includes him dancing, some old favorite characters, and more, I must admit I didn’t find it all that funny. The audience around me laughed quite a bit, but I don’t know if it was my spot in the theater or just being used to John’s style but if over the course of 90 minutes I laughed more than 6 times, I’d be surprised. Yet, don’t take that as me saying this wasn’t entertaining. If anything, John made this show funny enough to keep your attention, not funny enough so that his jokes were as memorable as the material he wanted you to learn. So, if you decide to see this show, come in taking note of that. Though considering almost all of his past specials have ended up on HBO, and Netflix is hungry for a diverse portfolio, I don’t feel you must rush and see this now. Wait. It’ll probably end up recorded and available from the comfort of your home eventually.