Comedians perform for a cause

Laughter lifted more than spirits at the Puente Program’s “Noche de Comedia,” it may have helped to lift the futures of some RCC students from obscurity to security. Funds raised at the first annual Latino Comedy Night were used to fund a Northern California university trip for RCC Puente students.

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By Andrea R. Solis

By Andrea R. Solis

Laughter lifted more than spirits at the Puente Program’s “Noche de Comedia,” it may have helped to lift the futures of some RCC students from obscurity to security.

Funds raised at the first annual Latino Comedy Night were used to fund a Northern California university trip for RCC Puente students.

Students were flown up to Northern California for a tour of four-year institutions including Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, San Francisco State University and San Jose State.

This was done in an effort to encourage the students to reach beyond their immediate surroundings and expand their transfer possibilities.

None of this could have been possible without the money raised from “Noche de Comedia” as well as the well-known professional comedians who gave their time and funny bones to make it happen.

The four Latino comedians, three of whom are long-time friends of college President Daniel Castro, came from as far away as East Los Angeles in order to bring down the house at the Digital Library Auditorium on April 20.

The predominantly Latino crowd laughed and related to the ethnic humor and the cross-cultural witticisms.

No topics were off limits from Rudy Moreno’s bit about the gangster Santa Claus to Juan Garcia’s accusation that some girls who wear shirts that say “Cutie” or “Hottie” are lying and that they should just wear one that says “Cute Enough to Kick It.”

Charles Sanchez did a side splitting routine as a gay “cholo” which had the audience rolling in the aisles.

Gilbert Esquivel, the headliner, brought it home with his twist on the Jeff Foxworthy routine “You might be a redneck if…”

Esquivel made the division between Mexicans and those whom he called “Mesicans”-meaning very ethnic or distinctly recognizable for certain behaviors.

“Ladies if you wear your eyeliner on your lips-you’re a Mesican,” Esquivel said. “It’s OK though as long as it doesn’t go above your lip ‘cuz then it looks like a moustache.”

If you do all your banking in a liquor store you’re definitely a “Mesican,” said Esquivel.

Even the more edgy humor seemed to entertain rather than offend.

Whatever topic was on the table-dating, marriage, or even Castro-the four comics knew exactly how to connect with the audience through the language of laughter.

Connection is something that Pati Avila, faculty adviser for the Puente Program, struggles to maintain for her students.

“Minority students face the problem of lack of role models,” Avila said.

The Puente Program aims to provide peer support, mentors and a connection to the institution to keep students in school.

Each student is paired up with a mentor from the local community, several of whom where Puente members themselves before going on to become attorneys, bankers, educators and law enforcement personnel among other professions.

According to Avila, Puente’s mission is to “increase the number of under served students transferring to four-year universities.

Puente, open to all students who are eligible for English 50, has a three-pronged approach: the study of Latino and Chicano literature, academic counseling and mentoring.

The Puente Program, established in 1989, has a 94 percent retention rate of its students compared to the 63 percent dropout rate of first-time freshmen of RCC as a whole.

“We came from the Moreno Valley Campus to support this event that was organized by the Puente Program,” said RCC student Jorge Moreno.

Future Puente fund-raisers after this style are expected to draw more people and raise more money for students.

“The line will be out the door by years two and three once word of mouth spreads about how great the show was,” Castro said.

For additional information on the Puente Program, call 222-8459.

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