The ‘Latin Kings’ rule over Riverside

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By Tyler Davidson

The ‘Latin Kings’ rule over Riverside (Christopher Ullyott)

By Tyler Davidson

Lights flicker inside the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, echoing the excited nature of the crowd occupying the historic building.

On May 17, over one thousand men and women have packed the auditorium to see legendary comedian Paul Rodriguez host the Crown Royal-sponsored “Latin Kings of Comedy” tour.

The largely Latino crowd also has its discrepancies, as some fans look to be dressed for a rock concert, while others have put on their Sunday best for the show.

Whatever the case may be, everyone displays their excitement once the first comedian takes the stage.

Zacatecas native Richard Villa was first up, as he delivers a quick ten-minute warm-up set… entirely in Spanish.

While it is apparent that most of tonight’s crowd is bilingual, some in attendance (myself included) just have to take the raucous laughter surrounding us as proof that Villa is killing.

After Villa finishes, it is time for tonight’s host, Rodriguez, to take the stage.

Opening with a bit about defecation that seems just a bit short of his capabilities, Rodriguez comes back with nearly an hour of the classic stand-up that has made him the icon he is today.

He seamlessly segues between topics like discipline at home, confessing his sins, and creating a homemade hot tub with Alka-Seltzer tablets, and subsequently declares this Thursday night a Friday night.

He then turns the microphone over to the next comedian, a moustached, guitar-toting man in black by the name of Frank Lucero. Lucero is an over-the-top, animated kind of comic that entertains every second he is on stage.

Covering conventional topics like work, traffic and his parents one second, while imitating different kinds of mariachis the next, Lucero has the crowd in stitches.

A fan of Lucero, Riverside native Denise Ortiz explains that “for us…this is reality. It’s like it’s not even a joke; it’s something that we grew up with.”

Ortiz and her husband John were drawn to the show by its host.

“Paul’s just awesome,” John Ortiz said. “I’ve been a fan of his for a long time.”

Following Lucero onstage is a perfect foil for his exaggerated style, Dennis Gaxiola. Preferring to employ a much dryer, more subtle type of humor, Gaxiola proves to be just as hilarious.

Peppering the set with generous references to his Filipino wife, he puts a new spin on the old “the thing about my wife” routine. Gaxiola creates a memorable performance in every sense of the word, delivering creative lines like “How did the Terminator marry Skeletor?” referring to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver.

After a half-hour intermission (originally announced as ten minutes), the Auditorium is pleasantly surprised by the onstage arrival of Gabriel Iglesias.

The “Last Comic Standing” alum proceeds to perform a quick ten-minute set that includes dead-on impressions of fellow Latin comics George Lopez, Carlos Mencia, and even Rodriguez himself.

Rounding out the evening is a man named Manny Maldonado, someone that Rodriguez has repeatedly prophesized a huge future for. Maldonado delivers a half hour’s worth of comedy (including impressions of Bernie Mac and Tony Montana, as well as the night’s obligatory MySpace references) that is so energetic, it makes you tired just to watch him.

Maldonado’s manic intensity proves to be the perfect closer for the evening. Following Lucero’s hilarious guitar-enhanced set, Gaxiola’s dry delivery, a surprise appearance by Iglesisas, and the classic emceeing of host Rodriguez, Maldonado finishes off the crowd and sends them home on the highest note possible.

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