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Friday
February 28th, 2020

john leguizamo latin history for moronsJohn Leguizamo prepares the start of a history lesson in his one-man show “Latin History for Morons,” currently available to stream on Netflix. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Suggestions for movies and TV shows and other media come to me in a variety of ways, whether it’s via Netflix, a conversation on Facebook or a conversation at the office. My most recent suggestion for something to watch came from a YouTube personality I follow and I can definitely say YouTube is a good source for media suggestions. 

In this particular video for this YouTube personality, she mentioned seeing John Leguizamo’s one-man show “Latin History for Morons” where she lives and a few days after watching that video, the show itself came up in my Top Suggestions tab on Netflix. I’d seen the suggestion before without giving it a ton of thought, but after seeing a review of it on YouTube, I clicked on it and gave it a shot. Like a lot of things I’ve seen this past year, I ended up being VERY surprised by what I saw. In this one-man show, Leguizamo describes how he found humor and heartbreak as he traced 3,000 years of Latin history in an effort to help his bullied son with a school project. 

The first thing I’ve got to give praise to is Leguizamo’s performance throughout the show. He gives 100 percent of himself into every minute and he is able to very deftly blend humor and history together as he’s telling the story of his quest to help his son in school. His timing is outstanding, the humor throughout is solid, and you feel everything right along with Leguizamo. One-person shows are exceedingly difficult to do well, and Leguizamo pulls off this show very well. Another thing I liked about the performance overall is just how open and raw it is. With the way Leguizamo tells the different parts of the story, he performs it all in a way that allows the viewer to have an inside track on how he was feeling at that point in time, and especially in the more serious moments of the show (particularly near the end when he’s recapping some other information for the audience) he is open and raw and it’s a credit to how good an actor Leguizamo really is. And the way he presents the actual information is also done very well – so well, in fact, I wonder if Leguizamo ever considered actually becoming a teacher of some type at some point in his life. 

Another thing I enjoyed about the show was the information itself that was presented. 3,000 years of history is a lot to cover, but Leguizamo is able to deftly cover the highlights of everything that happened – and the fact that he was willing to do all of that research in order to help his son is just astounding because that had to have taken a lot of time and patience. I also always enjoy learning new things, so learning about some of the things the Latin population has had to go through throughout its existence (for example, did you know Latinos are the only minority group to serve in literally every war the U.S. has been involved in? Or how the early civilizations’ gold and other treasures are now lost forever because the Europeans who invaded melted it all down to make coins?) was actually quite interesting to learn about. And the best part about how the information is presented is that Leguizamo references books and other legitimate historical documents/materials (which he used during his research for his son) to back up everything he said. It would have been so easy to take the cliché way out and have it be some rambling monologue about nothing, but everything Leguizamo presents is backed up by facts and history, which just adds another level of depth to the show. 

Something else I enjoyed about the show was the overall timing of it. In basically 90 minutes, Leguizamo is able to cover not only the story of helping his son but also the history he presents. Not only is Leguizamo’s timing (both comedic and dramatic) awesome, but so is the overall show. It’s tightly written and very tightly performed in a way that it’s long enough to be a proper show but also short enough to not make people bored while watching it.

One last thing I have to give praise to is the set design for the show. It resembles a jumbled classroom area, complete with thick textbooks, chairs and a couple desks and the haphazardness of it all (though it did very briefly annoy my neatnik sensibilities) adds to the atmosphere of the show and it’s all set up very well. 

Overall, I enjoyed watching John Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” on Netflix and I would give it a sold “A.” Leguizamo’s performance and timing are great throughout the entire show, the history (which is interesting in itself) is presented in a very interesting and enjoyable way and the set design is very creative. I applaud Leguizamo for turning such a personal story into a cathartic one-man show, and it’s just overall very well done. If you’re a fan of any of Leguizamo’s other work (look him up on Google if you need a refresher) or if you enjoy one-person shows, there is a good chance you’ll enjoy watching this if you’ve got a Netflix account. 

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