To call comedian John Leguizamo versatile is an understatement. The man is a show-business chameleon, flexing his talents in writing and producing, while also acting in film, television and on Broadway. This weekend Leguizamo will bring his Latin History for Dummies tour to Comedy Works South. In advance of the two-night run, we talked with Leguizamo about what makes him tick and how he can switch roles so effectively.
See also: Bob Saget on Riffing, Self-Awareness and Dirty Daddy, His New Book
Westword: It's Halloween, did you dress up?
John Leguizamo: New Yorkers love Halloween. I dressed up as Luigi from Super Mario Brothers.
Have you been to Colorado before? Yes, lots. I've been to the film festivals and stuff. I like it there, I'm looking forward to coming back.
What can we expect from your stand-up routine? I'm looking forward to doing stand-up. I've never done small comedy clubs before. I usually do sketch comedy, theater, readings or performance art. It's my first time doing comedy clubs. It's also my first time performing Latin History for Dummies. It took me years to workshop it and get it just right.
Your new film, Fugly!, which you wrote, produced and starred in, opens in select cities November 7 and is on video on demand on November 25. How was that experience working on the film?
So much fun. I wrote the film and got to work with all of my friends, who are all talented and funny. I'm living the dream. It's my first feature film I wrote and produced. It's a coming-of-age story, a forty-year-old man's second coming of age. [The protagonist] Jesse is traumatized by girls in college and he wants to be a player. He falls deeply in love with ladies. The film also features the first fake male orgasm in cinema.
What is the difference between performing on Broadway, in clubs and on camera?
It's very different, dog. Film and Broadway are elevated art forms. When people come to comedy clubs, they want to laugh their asses off. There's two different goals. Comedy clubs are more accessible. Like with Latin History for Dummies, for example. White people don't really know it, but it's history being told in a super-funny way.
How do you switch gears between modes of art?
They are all such different paths. You can't do it all in one day. When I'm writing I have to be alone, quiet and inside myself. For acting, I do lots of research. When I'm acting I'm very impulsive and intuitive. For producing, I'm out there hustling. You have to be proactive and get investors. Sometimes you have to be a therapist, dad and friend as a producer.
Do you have any future Broadway plans?
I'd like to take Latin History for Dummies off Broadway. I love off Broadway. It's funky and edgy. It's hipper and cooler and more intimate.
What can fans expect from Latin History for Dummies? I worked hard on it. It's a mind-fuck. It's challenging. It will blow their minds. It's mad rude and mad intellectual, too.
You have worked with some great directors in the past. One of my personal favorite films of yours is Summer of Sam , directed by Spike Lee. What is it like to work with such great filmmakers?
Wow, I have a newfound respect for you now, dog. Summer of Sam is one of my favorite films, too. What all of the great directors like Spike Lee, Ridley Scott, Brian De Palma and Baz Luhrmann have in common is their effort. They are so nurturing, so passionate and so positive. I try to learn from them and take a piece of that for myself. They are all givers and care so much about their art and craft. It's inspiring to be around that, that magnitude.
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John Leguizamo will perform his new stand-up comedy routine, Latin History for Dummies, at Comedy Works South at the Landmark November 7-8. Tickets are $35 in advance and can be purchased online here; Leguizamo says he loves to connect with fans, and will hold a meet-and-greet after each show. You can also follow and tweet him.