Review: El Channel by Latino Comedy Project
by Michael Meigs
I had expected to like this show a lot more than I did.
I'd seen and really appreciated the clever videos spots in which Guillermo Deleon as the "BC -- born citizen" compares notes with Adrian Villegas, as the "Mex" illegal. You can catch them either at the Latino Comedy Project website or on YouTube. They ran on MTV and they've been nominated for an Emmy award.
In those one-minute sketches, each gets to shine. For example, in the one on "travel," Deleon plays the self-important yuppie citizen, progressively more appalled as Villegas cheerfully details, mostly in Spanish, the vicissitudes of crossing the border.
It's irreverent, fast and funny. If you don't speak Spanish, you see Villegas do his wild pantomime and babble; if you do speak Spanish, it's even better. Click on the image to take the ride.
With the prospect of doing a pilot for the Spike TV network, this sassy Austin troupe dreamed up the notion of El Channel, a television station located exactly on the border. They spin out a loose collection of skits, goosing all the usual stereotypes and then some.
The owners are a Mexican-Jewish mafia ("shalom!" they cry, waving pistols). Two chunky guards at the border dispute procedures. The mafia guys and random illegals use a cross-border tunnel that debouches under the station manager's desk. Homeland security nazis and right-wing nuts stalk or combat-roll across the set, while the station's hopeful young Anglo janitor keeps changing costumes to ingratiate himself.
Villegas does a couple of droll turns -- as "Luis Dobbs," the pinstriped interviewer who tries to understand the neanderthal nationalist, and as "Gus" the earnest but much abused husband to Danu Uribe, who plays the Latina bitch from hell.
Nick Rosales as a prancing gay is the latest studio intern, and the vulgarissima station secretary (Vanessa Gonzalez?) takes bets that he'll be dead within a week.
Dumb potty jokes and stupid wiggly sex jokes abound. Karinna Pérez plays a naive young thing who just can't understand why a man would want to get into her "empañada" and she also gets to share with us more about her lower colon than we could ever want to know.
One more promising bit is the television show with Dr. Barbara, titled "Que bárbara!" (colloquially, approximately, "What a hell of a dame!"). Sandy Avila as doña Barbara is the station physician, running an interview/self-help show in which she tangles with an Anglo woman author, with the slutty station secretary and with Villegas playing a brutally dumb Mexican macho. She's perky and decisive, but to little avail -- the "El Channel" world is made up of stupid, shallow foul stereotypes, a sort of TexMex Augean stable.
The Latino Comedy Project has the actors. They now need some scriptwriters, folks who can craft a storyline that uses their remarkable talents and bicultural savvy to tell stories that provide more than guffaws.
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2826 Real Street, south of Manor Rd.
Austin, TX, 78722