New York – Actor John Alberto Leguizamo knows a thing or two about being Latino in the U.S. – he is a Colombian of Puerto Rican descent living in America since age 4.
That’s probably why the idea of a Latino-for-dummies kind of comedy show has been brewing in him for the last 15 years. He finally started writing it four years ago and now it’s all ready to go for its premiere at La Jolla Playhouse, in La Jolla, California, on April 5. It is also slated to play in New York City's Public Theater on Spring of 2017.
It is a one-man show titled “Latin History for Morons” (he wanted “Latin History for Dummies” but wasn’t allowed by the “For Dummies” instructional book series representatives.)
Told in the form of a long history lesson, Leguizamo hopes "Latin History" will educate audiences as well as make them laugh.
“Hopefully their minds are going to be rebooted and reset to realizing what a huge impact we Latin people have had in this country,” Leguizamo told Fox News Latino, “and how all our contributions have been erased systematically.”
The show takes place under the guise of a satirical history lesson aimed at Leguizamo’s son. It explores Latin historical themes dating back thousands of years, as well how Spanish-speaking immigrants helped to shape the most powerful nation in the world.
“Just imagine you’re a white kid, and all of a sudden everybody’s Latin, and everything they’re teaching you is Latin, and you don’t hear anything about yourself or about your contributions,” Leguizamo said in a statement last month. “And it’s really weird and unfair because we had huge contributions.”
For the 51-year-old performer, it’s a return of sorts to the 1990s and his one-man (or nearly) shows “Motor Mouth” and “Spic-O-Rama.”
Unlike those, Leguizamo said, this time he experimented with presenting some of the “Latin History” material in comedy clubs across the country. At least 40 clubs, he said, which "demanded a lot of my attention and energy."
An effort he believes will pay off if the show comes to inform the cultural conversation around the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that engulfed Hollywood earlier this year – something the actor sees as the product of a lack of diversity that’s "a symptom of a bigger problem."
He told FNL that seeing “Hamilton” – Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton – spurred him to finish “Latin History,” and he hopes the show to be part of the change he wishes to see in the media.
“They make all these movies about World War I and World War II – never do you see a Latin person. There were 500,000 Latin people that fought in WWII. How could you not have one story [about them]?”
The comedian added, “We Latin people have contributed to the making of this country since the very beginning, and before, and gotten no credit.”