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After a long hiatus from the theater world, John Leguizamo returned to Broadway in 2011 in his hit one-man show Ghetto Klown.
“John Leguizamo still appears to have the energy of a 12-year-old who has just downed a Red Bull and a jumbo package of Twinkies,” according to a March New York Times review for Ghetto Klown.
But what looks effortless, Ghetto Klown is actually the product of three years of hard work. A new documentary,Tales From a Ghetto Klown, chronicles Leguizamo’s return to Broadway. Director Ben DeJesus followed Leguizamo through his writing process, production obstacles and the actor’s experience reconnecting with his cultural roots.
DeJesus calls John Leguizamo a “bicultural phenomenon”. Born Colombia, Leguizamo moved to Queens, New York at the age of 4 with his family. Tales From A Ghetto Klown provides proof of just how multicultural Leguizamo is. He has ties to New York, Los Angeles and Bogota, Colombia. He operates in Spanish, English and something in between.
The film follows Leguizamo all the way to Colombia where he performs a Spanish-language version of Ghetto Klown and into the corners of New York City where the Colombian-American actor claims he had the experiences that drove of his stand-up career.
“That was my first open mic night,” said Leguizamo of the time to get arrested for breaking into a subway conductor’s booth. “It was on the subway, the birth of my comedy.”
The documentary also features Leguizamo’s mentors and friends, including Ghetto Klown director Fisher Stevens (The Cove), Rosie Perez, Ralph Fiennes, Liev Schrieber and Ruben Blades.
Tales from a Ghetto Klown will make its broadcast premiere on PBS July 13.