Review: Gentrif*cked by Latino Comedy Project
by Justin M. West

2016 staging (photo by Kirk Lockhart)“It’s like music,” said Adrian Villegas, director of Gentrif*cked, following its penultimate performance last Friday. That’s a fair simile. The show’s deft comedic timing and polished ensemble never miss a beat, and the punches track almost non-stop through the entirety of its all-too-brief runtime. If “laughs per minute” is still any measure of a great comedic performance, Gentrif*cked is in rarefied air. 


It’s somewhat ironic that Villegas would compare the rhythm of his riotous, scathing satire with the very art form that inspired its subject to dub itself the “Live Music Capital of the World.” While the moniker persists even today, longtime Austin, TX residents can (and do) lament the expansive and ever-growing list of institutional music venues that have been forced to shutter. Those that remain (or replace them) feel sterile. Corporate. And for good reason, as the Austin Monthly pointed out. If this is the live music capital of the world, we wonder, why are all our favorite venues being forced to close?


Talking about how much Austin has changed has become such a cliché that it has replaced the weather as the default watercooler chit-chat. “I miss the original Alamo” is pretty common, even though the food sucked back then, too. You’re almost certain to hear, “The skyline used to look so much different! None of this stuff was here.” But, shamefully, you’ll almost never overhear in any of the bougie, dime-a-dozen artisanal cocktail bars slash gastro pubs slash record stores slash unironic mustache groomers on the east side of town:  “Hey, remember when that Hispanic family used to live here…? Yeah, me neither. Let’s do a shot!”


Fueled by its position as a hive of big-tech talent and the draw of the many tourist-enticing festivals the locals love to bitch about, Austin’s steadily-rising prosperity has come at a huge cost, especially for - and disproportionately affecting - those who can least afford it.


In 2015, Austin’s Hispanic-Latino Quality of Life Initiative issued a report that recommended, among other things, “housing policies that disperse affordable housing citywide, to minimize race and ethnic segregation.” Fast forward to 2021. The city had reached only 12% of its goals on the availability of affordable housing, with the majority pushed to the outskirts and doing jack squat to solve the segregation problem. But hey, it’s not all bad. Maybe you can literally win a lottery to get affordable housing!


While you’d be forgiven for not finding the humor in any of this—and wondering just when the hell I’m going to get around to reviewing the performance—Villegas and the Latino Comedy Project have managed to do just that by pointing out just how stupid it is. 


Mical Trejo, Omar Gallega (via LCP)

Unlike this review, Gentrif*cked and The Latino Comedy Project are hilarious in an era when satire feels like a dying art form. With a series of live sketches and pre-recorded video pieces, Gentrif*cked is a blistering rebuke of the ills of gentrification, prejudice, and virtual reality headsets. In its single act, the production wields a veritable flamethrower of satirical wit to roast what it terms “rampant development and clueless Anglo hipsterism.” 


Some of its stories are even true, though they seem far too ridiculous to be so. One segment replays an honest-to-God TV news piece telling of a Hispanic-owned business being demolished overnight and without warning so a cat cafe could be built in its place. Unknown at the time of the footage was the fact that the stupid replacement place would, stupidly, close down just a few years later. (In a “you can’t make this up” moment, I later learned that the owners responsible said of their victims: “Probably their livelihood was selling helium and stolen bicycles.” What?! Did I forget to say, ‘stupid?’) 


Adrian Villegas (via LCP)Like all good satire, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously. The puns are plentiful (and damn good). A parody of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was better written - and performed - than the music from the more recent Wonka movie featuring Amber Heard’s ex-husband. In one of the show’s closing bits, a wry grin kept appearing at the corner of Villegas’ mouth. It genuinely looked like he might lose it, somehow unable to maintain the appropriately stoic visage of a pop-dancing, air-humping extraterrestrial. Unfortunately for us, he managed to keep it together, but at least he didn’t disrupt the timing of the air horn. 


I listened to some of the audience sharing their thoughts after the show, and the sentiment all around seemed to be that Gentrif*cked was a riot not just because of its sharp writing and the ensemble’s all-around blazing performances, but because it’s just so damn true. To be both hilarious and sad at the same time… that’s the mark of a satirical masterpiece.


Gentrif*cked* should be required viewing for anyone applying for a building permit in Austin. If you’re not laughing, crying, or laughing until you cry by the time you leave the theatre, check your pulse. If you have one, consider checking your privilege.




Video Promo for LCP's GENTRIF*CKED




by Latino Comedy Project
Latino Comedy Project

January 19 - January 28, 2023
Boyd Vance Theatre
George Washington Carver Center
1165 Angelina Street,
Austin, TX, 78702

Jan. 19-28, 2023 for TWO WEEKENDS ONLY at the historic @carvermuseumatx.

Carver Museum, Boyd Vance Theatre, Austin, Texas

Tickets $22 plus service fee

Our cherished supporters and social media followers can use the exclusive discount code MIGENTE at checkout for 10% off regularly priced tickets! So get them now at this link -- click HERE!


Video from LCP