“Latinologues” explores culture with comedy

Latinos have once again invaded “The Great White Way.”

“Latinologues” is a collection of comedic monologues about Latino life in America. It is written by Rick Najera, a Hollywood comedic writer for shows like “Mad TV” and “In Living Color” and directed by Cheech Marin of “Cheech and Chong” fame.

“Latinologues” offers a variety of cultural experiences and perspectives. The play delivers its main laughs through the examination of stereotypes in the Latino culture. From Dominicans’ love affair with baseball to Cubans’ tendency to exaggerate, “Latinologues” show no favoritism to just one ethnicity.

The opening monologue about a Mexican immigrant’s experience crossing the border is delivered by Eugenio Derbez. However, that particular scene falls flat because the jokes he uses sound like they were taken from a bit on Carlos Mencia’s “Mind of Mencia.”

The show picks up after a monologue delivered by writer Rick Najera who plays a border patrol man who “Panics Hispanics.”

After a couple jokes in his monologue, a large problem becomes apparent; these jokes have been told before.

The true heart of the play comes from the development of the characters themselves, a balance between incorporating stereotypes as well as the development of their personalities stemming from Latino culture.

The best example of this is the monologue involving a bus boy named Alejandro, played by Rene Lavan, one of the better performers in the cast. The character of Alejandro is the epitome of the macho Latin lover. He goes into great details about his sexual conquests.

The funniest part is when he discusses the technique he uses in his process of attracting women, usually the ones whose tables are next to the table he buses. His pride takes a hit after a woman with whom he spent the night refuses to call him.

Alejandro does get in contact with her but the woman turns him down because he is “just a bus boy.” Although slightly hurt, Alejandro quickly shrugs it off in pursuit of another woman.

There are several other high points in the play involving a Miss Puerto Rican Day Parade contest gone horribly wrong, and a phone conversation between Fidel Castro and the father of Elian Gonzalez about Fidel reneging on the promises he made to Elian if he returned to Cuba.

There are also some dramatic monologues delivered about September 11 and a Cuban woman’s desire for freedom.

The play may alienate certain audience members, since the comedy relies on the first hand experiences involved with the culture.

Those outside the Latino experience will be left scratching their heads as to what the rest of the audience is laughing at.

Overall, the play has its funny moments and is worth seeing for a good laugh. The vast majority of the jokes are nothing new but are delivered well, along with several excellent performances. “Latinologues” is open in a limited run at the Helen Hayes Theatre and will close its doors on Dec. 4.