Saturday, June 27, 2009

TeatroStageFest 2009: Two Staples of Nuyorican Stand-Up Comedy Blend Laughter with Bi-Cultural Self-Reflection


“What are those jíbaros doing here?,” yelled a woman after having recognized some friends while walking the aisle. So began a night of communal warmth at the Puerto Rican Travelling Theater in which faces never before seen were yet recognizable. How not to feel so emotional in the midst of such a fruitful occasion--Latinos escaping the bustle and the grind of the big city in order to honor the Spanish language, or, better stated, the language of the Latino diaspora in the U.S., Spanglish.

It was in keeping with this theme of frank exposition that the actress and writer Marga Gomez took the stage last week in the first installment of TeatroStageFest’s "Comedy bailout package," a series of stand-up shows that will close today and tomorrow with the presentation, at the Queens Theater in the Park, of Colombian actor Andrés López.

Gomez's Long Island Iced Latina (directed by David Schweizer) was met with uncontrollable guffaws of laughter as it brimmed with candid and ironic anecdotes of a life miserably borne. Drawing upon the most minute of details, Gomez complemented her unique brand of histrionic physical comedy with shifting lightscapes and a variety of musical motifs.

In Pardon my Spanglish ¡Porque Because! writer, director and author Bill Santiago gave an electrifying performance that immediately won over the crowd. Seeking neither indulgence for his proudly employed Spanglish nor support from the austere scenery, Santiago charged forward from beginning to end with energetic gesticulations and animated expressions. Illuminating the interplay of two sides of Hispanic culture, those of Spanish and English speakers, Santiago invited us to reflect on our own linguistic biculturalism.

Produced by legendary Puerto Rican actress Miriam Colón Valle, both performances featured Caribbean rythms and Hispanic irreverence to make for an outstanding comedy show -- enough to catch the attention of any New York peasant, or in the case of yours truly, homesick Boricua.

Long Island Iced Latina, written and performed by Marga Gómez, directed by David Schweizer, and Pardon my Spanglish ¡Porque Because!, written and performed by Bill Santiago. June 18 and 19 at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, as part of TeatroStageFestival’s Commedy Bailaout Package.

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