Latino Laugh Festival, no laughing matter

By Chito de la Torre
    It's your opportunity to bask in the glory of Hollywood Latino style as San
Antonio hosts the Latino Laugh Festival. But even though some of the most
talented comics will be here, it's going to be serious event that will
hopefully launch many careers.
    "Actually it's going to be the largest gathering of Hispanic talent,"
explained Paul Rodriguez who will co-host the shows along with Daisy Fuentes. 
Cheech Marin will serve as the main host.  "Everybody [will be here] from
Hector Elizondo to Jimmy Smitz to Edward James Olmos and my good buddy Cheech
Marin.  It's a 13 week commitment for Showtime."
    Rodriguez is right.  Even though it will take place in San Antonio, this is
really a national event that will be part of a 13 week series airing on
Showtime beginning July 16.
    According to Rudy Tellez, one of the show's producers (Jeff Valdez is
actually the producer who came up with the idea), the Latino Laugh Festival
will serve as a launching pad for many artists who might not otherwise get a
shot at television.  But both Tellez and Rodriguez are in agreement on the
fact that it is our collective Latino responsibility to ensure there are more
of us in the media.
    Rodriguez said that the level of Latino Participation in main stream media is
"Minimal and criminal."  And he thinks he knows why.
    "In America the squeaky wheel gets the grease and we [Latinos] in America do
not squeak or squak," explained a very serious Rodriguez. "We don't complain.
    "We Hispanics are not used to calling the stations and writing, and that's
exactly what it's going to take," said a very serious Rodriguez.  "There's a
lot of Latino talent out there but I do believe the Latino Laugh Festival will
be the kick off, and what better city than  San Antonio perhaps the most
Hispanic city in America to kick it off.  A lot of young stand-ups and actors
and actresses are going to be discovered." 
    The Latino Laugh Festival kicked off on Thursday June 6 and runs until
Saturday the 8th.  There are more events than I can possibly list, but rest
assured that each one will be great. Among the artists that will be present
are: Carlos Alazraqui, Maria Conchita Alonso, Luis Avalos, Benjamin Bratt,
Culture Clash, Bill Dana, El Vez, Hector Elizondo, Erik Estrada, Andres
Fernandez, Chris Fonseca, Pablo Francisco, Carlos Gomez, Marga Gomez, Mike
Gomez, Mario Lopez, Mario & Daniel, Ada maris, John Mendoza, Maty Monfort,
Ricardo Montalban, Edward James Olmos, Tony Plana, Gene Pompa, Stacy Sanches,
Liz Torres, and Jeff Valdez.
  Call for the Rivercenter Comedy Club in San Antonio (210) 299-1420 for a
full schedule.

--30-- (printed with permission)