Think about this: Because corporate media has never been keen on portraying the diversity that exists within communities of color; for most people right now, Latino Comedy begins and ends with George Lopez.
It’s not just his no-holds barred cantankerous style that sets him apart but also a bit of authenticity regarding the lifestyle of a professional stand-up.
At the end of his last performance at Standford’s over the weekend the comic haggled with the management over the price of a bottle of tequila on stage and then purchased a shot for all the willing participants in the audience.
The damage was about $200 and when I asked him about it afterwards he said, “You have to live in the moment.” He continued: “Doing what I do, you have to be spontaneous and open to where the crowd wants to go.”
Watching the comic in action it’s plain to see that his instincts and expertise have given him a keen insight into the will of the crowd. But he’s still learning. He noted that one of his shows that kicked off the week was greeted with a bit of hostility by the crowd. “People in Kansas are sensitive about the subject of God and religion,” he noted. However, he won back the crowd with stories of a visit to entertain the troops and his summation of all the world’s religions boiling down to the simple principal: “Don’t be a dick.” My favorite part of his religious riff is his youthful perception of Jesus as a really sad uncle because of the many Catholic portraiture son the walls of his home.
While I don’t attend many comedy shows, for a Sunday night I was impressed with the number and enthusiasm of folks coming out to see Barcena. “I definitely want to come back. Kansas City has a great comedy scene working here is always a highlight.”
Barcena hopes to continue his good times on the road. He has booked a Showtime comedy special and I get the sense from his impressive resume that he’s about to break the mold of a journeyman comedian. Time and again Barcena cites Richard Pryor as one of his influences but Pryor was a showman who started his act in fancy red suits and then worked his way into an intimate relationship with the crowd. What I like about Barcena’s act is that he assumes a familiar role with the audience and then works hard to maintain it. I can only hope his circle of friends expands even further in the future.