Ghetto Klown, and Why I'm Silent Lately

So I've been spending a lot of time lately writing my own actual musicals, one of which will be featured in a festival this summer but that's another post.  I'll be reviewing some upcoming/recent shows in non-Abridgement format... Abridging takes a surprising amount of time, and in a month that featured a 40 hour-long songwriting session (with a 4 hour break to sleep somewhere in there), time isn't a luxury lately.  I'm re-learning how I write, how I get past writer's block, and how I deal with the looming fear of failure on large but also miniscule levels.

Which actually made John Leguizamo's "Ghetto Klown" more relatable to me than Sexoholix, the last one-man-show of his I saw.  Part of it is because I'm a writer, but part of it is probably because I'm... what's the word... Very White. 

Much like an August Wilson play, seeing a John Leguizamo show sometimes makes me feel proud of myself about how "diverse" my "tastes" supposedly "are", inclusive of not just the Great Whitebread Way but a multi-ethnic rainbow of theatre.  That said, seeing a show about a Latino man's roots often makes me feel partially like the outsider Leguizamo continually prides himself as being.  In other words with a show like Leguizamo's I'm enjoying it, I'm appreciating once more that We Are All The Same, but I'm going to miss a nuance here or a Spanish joke there (at no fault of the performer or writing). 

I had less of this mildly-alienating experience with Ghetto Klown because its Hollywood vs. Success subject matter means it's slightly more sanitized, which has it's advantages and tradeoffs.  On one hand his story of how he got to where he is tonight brings us on occasional detours through stories about his interactions with Patrick Swayze, Al Pacino and Baz Luhrman, which distract us overall from the story of an artist trying to figure out what to do to with insecurities, writer's frustration, life.  On the other hand, if I want to hear behind-the-scenes tell-alls from somebody, it's Johnny Legs.  He pulls no punches on others or himself, and by the end of the show you feel you've come to know the man more deeply than you know many of your own friends.  

It's not a perfect show by any means: it's often far less personal than his previous work and the ending of the show and the tying off of loose ends felt a bit sloppy to me.  Act one was wonderful, but I'd love to see a rewrite of the second act of Act Two because once he meets his wife, something in the story starts to lose it's place.  
Still, it's a well-told and entertaining behind-the-scenes story of a man-child who's had run-ins with his friends, past lovers, family, even his current wife, and has essentially learned to blame himself for his shortcomings through his own one-man shows.  And this spoke to me.

On a personal note, Leguizamo gave an interesting answer to my always-ready question of how he deals with writer's block:
"I tricked myself into writing this show because I didn't want to.  I was giving talks at colleges and had to prepare small bits and pieces.  After enough talks i'd basically written a first draft of the show."

Lucky bastard.


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