John Leguizamo's new Broadway show "Latin History for Morons" opened Wednesday night, taking his audience on a personal journey to learn the history of his ancestors. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.
"Latin History for Morons" is John Leguizamo's sixth solo performance. I've seen them all, and they're equally hilarious. But this one reveals a maturing comedian who manages to be funny, instructive, and touchingly reflective all at the same time.
"I was embarrassed, didn't know enough of ancestry to pass onto my kids," Leguizamo said.
The premise of this one is simple and actually more absurd than funny: Leguizamo's embarrassment is borne of a serious omission in public education. As he points out, classrooms in this country offer little to nothing on Latin history.
"What happened in 3,000 years between indigenous people and now?" he asks. "Did we just stop existing?"
From there, he takes us on a personal journey as he tries to help his bullied son complete a school project profiling a Latino hero. And he clearly did his homework, digging into scholarly research explaining the fate of his indigenous ancestors wiped out by the conquistadors' superior weaponry and worse, their deadly germs.
But of course, in his inimitable way, the lessons are pointedly satirical through a pop culture lens. He tells us that the Europeans' first encounter with the native women was like NBA players arriving at a Kardashian pool party.
Leguizamo's talent extends to dance moves and a mastery of dialects as he takes on dozens of characters, capturing each voice and gesture with stunning precision. And throughout, his boundless energy and comic timing never seems to fail with a virtuosity that continually tops itself.
"As the great Spanish philosopher Santana once said — not Carlos but George said — 'Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it,'" Leguizamo says.
There's even a bit of suspense in this one: Who does Leguizamo's son finally choose for his project profiling a Latino hero? Hint: It's not John Leguizamo. But if it was, there'd be no argument from me. As a solo performer — and I'm counting all Americans — he ranks among the very best.