Ghetto Klown – John Leguizamo’s One Man Masterpiece!

By Cris Franco (LatinHeat)

John Leguizamo’s defenses go down as the stage lights come up in the mad monologist’s newest one-man masterwork, Ghetto Klown. Transforming the Montalban Theatre into a circus tent turn confessional, this new play chronicles his personal and professional travails in what he presciently refers to as “Hollywoodn’t” – oh snap!

Yes, Johnny “Legs” bites the hand that feeds him as he skewers his rocky road in the biz called show. Along for the ride are his usual stable of unstable family members: his super-sexy “mami” of a mom, distant dad and Yoda-like grandpa. Plus a new crop of ex-wives and girl-frenemies who give him sex, drugs, personal insight — and herpes.

Beginning with his humble days as a ghetto klown (subway performer) Leguizamo magically morphs into the people, places and paranoia that drove him from the Bronx to Broadway to top billing in such films as To Wong FooT and Carlito’s Way.

And it’s these delicious little behind-the-scenes reenactments that make this new piece sizzle. Recounting incidences that his agents, managers and lawyers advised him never to publicly reveal, Leguizamo portrays his many co-stars’ peccadilloes to disarmingly deep and hysterical results.

Yes, the supremely gifted raconteur guides us through his close encounters with Hollywood’s greatest during their not-so-greatest moments. Determined to not allow “the industry” hold him down in stereotypical “Latino gangsta” roles, while on the set he improvises himself in and out of trouble. And in doing so tells Kurt Russell (to his face) that he’s a “wooden actor” and reveals that Steven Seagal runs like a girl, Al Pacino says the F-word a lot, Sean Penn can’t stage fight and Benicio del Toro mumbled himself out of the screen version of ROMEO & JULIET.

But the genius character actor mostly attacks himself acknowledging that the higher his career soared – the lower his self esteem fell until he crashed in a nervous breakdown that sent him into his darkest of days. His reward for his years of hard work: he’s forced to fire his coke-sniffing agent, gets punched-out by his life-long friend and his M.I.A. father sues him for character defamation. Leguizamo pulls no punches as he delves into his artistic process — one that required that this time he hit bottom in order to write a hit play – which GHETTO KLOWN most certainly is.

After making us laugh and cry for two full acts, his artistic soul triumphs guiding him back to the source of his inspiration: acknowledging that he is a clown. Not a tragic, sad clown — but rather a triumphant and jubilant jester whose hard-knocks childhood equipped him to find the fun in dysfunction and prepared him for the slings and arrows of outrageous Hollywood fame and fortune. Ghetto Klown is, indeed, outrageously funny and it is our good fortune to have it running at the Montalban Theatre until October 16, 2011.



Categories: NGLC Conference

1 reply

  1. The witty and clever Cris Franco captures the heart and soul of one of the most talented Latinos we have ever had on stage and screen. John Leguizamo has charted his own journey, facing more obstacles than many other artists, who wished they had one tenth of his talent, which obviously has not gone to his head, which is evident by his willingness and daring to be vulnerable. Five stars to both critic and subject!

    Joe Ortiz

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