April 25, 2010

Seriously Funny: Marga Gomez Performs

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Marga Gomez certainly accomplishes what she sets out to do.  The title of her comedy routine, Long Island Iced Latina, which took place at the Schwartz Center on Thursday April 22 addresses the out-of-place nature of a Lesbian Latina … on Long Island.  The show makes an important contribution to dialogues about race, gender and sexuality. Gomez’s routine is two parts social commentary and one part humor, cushioned with just enough laughter inducing one-liners that she is able to get her agenda across and leave the audience with some truly important things to ruminate on afterwards.  Humor serves as a helpful medium that lubricates the awkwardness of discussing such challenging and polarizing issues.  Long Island Iced Latina is a refreshing and didactic series of personal anecdotes that are melded into clever comedy.

In fact, Gomez makes no bouts about the importance of education, and demonstrated an admiration for the diligence of the scholarly inclined Cornell atmosphere.  Recapping her experience on the Campus-to-Campus bus she joked, “People do study.  After I looked around the bus I Tweeted, ‘I think I’m the only one on Facebook…’” She also remarked several times about the presence of Latinas in distinguished places:  “You can see a Latina face on the Supreme Court, on the Senate … on the corner of 169th street in Washington Heights yelling up at the top floor….!” Gomez made this juxtaposition often, attempting to dispel the stereotype that Latinas are always boisterous and uneducated — recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor served as a powerful example of this.

Self-identifying as a sort of minority among minorities, Gomez’s show aimed to repossess and glorify the many elements that make her the “non-standard” Latina.  She joked, “When I hang out with brown people I feel white and when I hang out with white people, I feel … WEIRD!” The show’s comedy was non-stop and the laughter was constant (a sign of quality humor).  In contrast with this lighthearted atmosphere and the brightly colored chalk graffiti spelling “¡GOMEZ!” on the stage, the comedian was addressing some fairly serious issues.  She certainly did not shy away from making her agenda transparent, however.  She stopped and commented, “You’re probably thinking … WOAH, we came for a comedy show.  She looks angry…”

Gomez’s act revolved around a few fundamental questions, for example:  What stereotypes are associated with being Latina in the United States and how might they manifest on a day-to-day basis?  A quick anecdote about being mistaken for an employee at a fitness club rather than a paying member demonstrated this.  Gomez also joked that she is, “Brown enough to be detained three out of five times by Homeland Security.”  The point was clear:  This is a land of equality but racial stereotyping exists.  Equal in theory is not always equal in reality.

Gomez also considers how being a minority is impacted by being Lesbian.  Telling a story about a boy she dated in high school who her mother loved because he “was Jewish and spoke very good Spanish,” Gomez told an epic story about the night she almost slept with him but was stopped by her mother “flying out of the house, rollers and all, to stop her from sleeping with … a boy … a decision she (her mother) would regret years later.”

And finally, how can being a non-Spanish speaking Latina affect one’s identity?  She quipped, “I belong to a class of lesser Latinos who cannot speak Spanish oppressed by those who can.  They consider us second class, cockroaches, hippies!”  She later concluded, “Being Latina isn’t about the language you can speak or can’t speak, it’s about being … LOUD!”  Gomez finally declared that she is a self-proclaimed “boba” (English translation:  stupid, silly, clown, fool) for her sub-par Spanish but is accepting and embracing her boba-ness.  “Bobas are EVERYWHERE,” she warned.

Ultimately Gomez’s success is in her frank depictions of highly personal yet illustrative anecdotes that bring the audience into a reality that may be impossible to experience otherwise.  Airing attributes that may at one time have been insecurities, Gomez transforms the uncomfortable into a proud declaration of individual identity.  Cheers to the Long Island Iced Latina.

Original Author: Ahsiya Kurlansky