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10/2/11

No Klowning Arou-...Wait, Never Mind! Sounds Fun!

Heads up Los Angeles! You are now home to one of Broadway’s best talents…take care of him, okay!

I can say with some degree of assurance that you have no idea who I am talking about. I am talking about John Leguizamo…you know, “that guy.” I use quotations because he is a great actor, has a filmography that spans decades (Moulin Rouge!, To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar and Carlito’s Way most notably)…and yet, not many people know him by name or could identifiy him out of a lineup.

To be fair, I am not a huge fan of his; I have only seen a few of his movies. A little investigation into the guy reveals he has quite a history of performing one-man shows all around New York going as far back as 24 years. Luckily for me (and one of my BFF’s, Courtney), I managed to catch his most recent show Ghetto Klown, on the final performance. Said show, has now jettisoned off to the west coast for a two-week engagement; so now, citizens of California now have the opportunity to witness the spectacle that I have seen. Playbill.com? Enlighten us, will ya…

“Ghetto Klown, the solo show conceived by and starring Emmy Award winner John Leguizamo that played its final performance at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre July 10 following 25 previews and 95 regular performances, officially opens in Los Angeles Oct. 2 following previews that began Sept. 30.”

“The show, according to press notes, takes audiences "from [Leguizamo's] adolescent memories in Queens to the early days of his acting career during the outrageous '80s avant-garde theatre scene, and on to the sets of major motion pictures and his roles opposite some of Hollywood's biggest stars."

Ghetto Klown just so happened to be the first one-person show I have ever seen. I tend to have a stigma against them; way too Vagina Monologues/“Chapter One: My First Period” if you ask me. I made the exception largely because it was Leguizamo who we were dealing with here and besides…


That man certainly knows how to make an audience laugh. From the get-go, he had Courtney and I cracking up by making witty jabs at New York and poking fun at himself. “I’m a Mets fan, so I know how to love unconditionally”…

C’mon; that is hysterical.

The stage was pretty neat too. There was an assortment of tables and props to help Leguizamo share his life with the audience; above all, the projector screen was a great touch playing movie/television clips or a photograph of Leguizamo at every marker moment he would talk about.

As it turns out, he has really led some life. From growing up impoverished, to his domestic disputes with his father, to his movie career and rise to stardom, to his infamous failures, his sense of humor made it light and very entertaining, without it being self-indulgent and boring. It was like seeing the fun, crazy aunt or uncle at a holiday gathering and he/she proceeds to amuse everyone with their latest stories.

I would say the show is about 95% comedic and 5% dramatic. In fact, in regards to the latter, I remembered why he is a great actor when he closed out Act I and the audience was almost left in tears as he recounted a story with his father. Of all the moments I recall from the show, that is one I remember very succinctly. It really was not maudlin or pandering either; it was (surprisingly) heartfelt and genuine. Afterwords, Courtney and I exchanged a glance of "Wha...did that just happen?"


But it was his comedic abilities that won me over, from his dead-on impressions of family members and friends (as I imagine them) and co-stars to his hilarious one-liners, the audience was bursting out into laughter every minute or so. On that note, how he fell in and out of another character was astounding given it is a one-man show and he had no back up or ensemble. He was the ensemble…

Leguizamo is in his late-forties, so it was uncanny on how the audience left the theater that day as if we had all know him our entire lives (mind you, I am 22...let's say I knew him in my past live!). I suppose that is the purpose to a one-person show (I would not know…remember, my first one!); if so, he succeeded greatly. But in the end, I would convince anyone looking for a hilarious night out-on-the-town to pick up tickets for his show in Los Angeles and enjoy the self-proclaimed class clown, as he lets you into his world…literally!

Oh, and he is one of the funniest people I have ever seen in person. Need I say more?

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