What happens when luxury condos replace local flea markets and neighborhood piñata shops disappear? That’s what Latino Comedy Project members asked themselves before creating their highly-anticipated show, “Gentrif*cked,” which will debut at 9:15 p.m. Sept. 2 at The Hideout as part of the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival.
“Gentrification sounds like this innocuous word,” says LCP Artistic Director Adrian Villegas. “It’s easy to lose sight that it has impact on human lives, families, memories, and those things get swept away.”
It’s been a couple of years since the Emmy-nominated multimedia sketch troupe has performed new material and a lot has changed in Austin’s Latino community since then, which made tackling gentrification issues through their witty socio-political commentary and parodies especially important. LCP, which launched in the late 1990s and are among the festival’s headliners, could have presented a reunion-like show and refreshed some of their classic sketches, but the troupe decided they still have a lot more to say.
In one sketch, Dora the Explorer follows her trusty map back home, only to find that everything in the neighborhood has changed. As a Latino troupe, Villegas says they often ask themselves, “What can we do that other groups can’t do in the same way?”
It’s that unique perspective that Out of Bounds Comedy Festival Executive Producer Ruby Willmann says brings audiences together. “Diversity in improv and comedy is a really hot topic, and we don’t just want to talk about doing it, but make it happen.”
Willmann says the festival, which runs from Aug. 30-Sept. 5, has made a concerted effort this year to feature diverse perspectives both on stage and behind the scenes at the festival’s workshops. “Comedy is cultivated through experiences,” she says. “And we all have different experiences. When young kids see themselves on stage, they can visualize themselves doing that.”
When making people laugh, Villegas says, the mission is twofold. “If you can make your own community laugh, then it feels cathartic and that’s invaluable,” he says. “If people who are not in your community can see themselves in performances, too, then that’s unifying. We all have the same dreams and aspirations, really. Comedy is a way to cut through the superficial differences.”
Tickets for LCP’s one-day show cost $15. For details on the rest of the festival lineup, workshop and passes, visit outofboundscomedy.com.
Celebrate Diez y Seis
Enjoy an Austin-style Mexican Independence Day at events throughout the city. On Sept. 17, bring your lawn chair to Fiesta Gardens Park West and enjoy the free Hispanic Heritage Celebration. Ballet folklorico, mariachi and Tejano music performances begin at 12:30 p.m. and local Tejano group Los A-T Boyz will headline the festival at 8:30 p.m. Visit diezyseis.org for more information.
At the Texas State Capitol, Austinites can celebrate with live music, ballet folklorico performances and a re-enactment of “El Grito” from 5:30-9:30 p.m. on Sept. 15. “El Grito” was the call for independence that Father Miguel Hidalgo gave in 1810. Due to Capitol renovations, the stage will be located between 12th and Colorado streets this year.
Keep an eye out for the annual ¡Viva Mexico! celebration at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. Although details were not available at press time, check austintexas.gov/esbmacc for updates.
Sounds of September
Missing Pachanga Fest? Earlier this year the Pachanga Latino Music Festival restructured its programming and converted the popular annual spring festival into a concert series at ACL Live.
In August, the series presented Latin legends Los Tigres Del Norte and Buena Vista Social Club alumni Omara Portuondo and Eliades Ochoa. The concerts continue this fall with more must-see September shows.
Natalia Lafourcade, who is part of an important wave of Mexican female Latin alternative artists, performs on Sept. 20. Lafourcade, a South by Southwest alum who recorded her debut Austin City Limits taping earlier this year, won a Grammy this spring for her latest album, “Hasta la Raíz.” Concert tickets range from $29-$49. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
On Sept. 24, Pachanga presents the country outfit The Mavericks, known for its genre-bending influences. The group, which includes singer Raul Malo, reunited recently after a decade-long hiatus. Concert tickets range from $35-$49. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
WELCOME TO CULTURA EN AUSTIN
Cultura en Austin is a monthly column highlighting Latino-related cultural events in Austin. Look for it on the last Friday of the month.
Nancy Flores grew up in the Texas border town of Eagle Pass and has been covering Latino culture for the American-Statesman and Austin360 since 2011. Before that, she covered Latino issues as a journalist in Mexico City. Send tips or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find more news about Latino cultural art happenings on the Cultura en Austin blog at cultura.blog.austin360.com.
Also, check out Austin Gente, our Emmy-nominated video/story series that explores what it means to be Latino in the U.S., at austin360.com/cultura.