Great Performances: A Bowl of Beings
This showcase for the Latino comic trio called Culture Clash is a taped performance of the San Francisco-based group’s recent, critically acclaimed stage show, A Bowl of Beings. It’s a collection of sketches and monologues about Latino life in America, with skits ranging from a satire of Christopher Columbus to a parody of the Edward James Olmos movie Stand and Deliver (Culture Clash’s clever version is called Stand and Deliver Pizza). The serious subtext of Clash’s comedy is the cultural schizo-phrenia that can result from being a Latino in a white world — one of the Clashers, Richard Montoya, even does a rather dreary monologue about this subject while trussed in a straitjacket.
As comedians, Montoya, Herbert Siguenza, and Ric Salinas are very good actors; their timing is sharp, and the characters they portray are fully formed. But the material they’ve written isn’t very funny. Much of it is a variation on stuff we’ve seen before, especially the Cheech and Chong-style drug humor; Montoya as a stoned hipster yelling ”Hey, I got the munchies!” gets an improbably big laugh from the Los Angeles Theatre Center audience where this performance was recorded last September. It’s obvious that the members of Culture Clash are talented fellows, but A Bowl of Beings amounts to a very classy audition tape. Here’s hoping they are seen and cast in other writers’ films, plays, and TV shows. C+