Only One More Weekend – Closes on September 17th
A Review by Luis Reyes for Latin Heat
If you were expecting a traditional theater or play experience, Paul Rodriguez’s The Pitch or “How to Pitch a Latino Sitcom That Will Never Air,” is something else—equally entertaining but it’s a Comedy Revue made up of a series of sketches to get his messages across and make the audiences laugh and think.
Legendary comedian, star of nightclubs, screen and TV, Paul Rodriguez is a commanding stage presence and is quite good and effective in this semi-autobiographical presentation that relates his experiences trying to “pitch” (sell) a comedy show idea to various television networks.
The Pitch is educational and insightful and sometimes funny for those who have no knowledge of how program ideas originate, develop and transform into actual on-air broadcast programming. The show consists of a series of loosely connected moderately funny vignettes and stand up monologues, centered on Paul’s encounters with television network decision makers.
The television industry lives and dies by audience numbers and whose institutionalized racism ignores the growing Hispanic –American population. Its self-serving statistics relegates Hispanics to the Spanish speaking networks despite sponsor awareness of Hispanic consumer buying power. Stereotype images still loom in the form of Narcos, immigrants and sultry women that Paul confronts during a casting session. Notes and comments are given to Paul from executives who do not understand the universality and the authentic idiosyncrasies and diversity of Americans of Latino descent. The network executives ignore the fact that Paul’s brother is a decorated Army Veteran and that his young son is a skate boarding champion with his own product franchise and is recognized by that desirable 18-39 demographic. Most of these valid points are made, sometimes redundantly, over the show’s fast moving and entertaining 75 minutes.
Co-star Mike Gomez, who plays actor/writer Mike Perez, has a strong dramatic and touching turn as Esteban, inspired by Paul’s real life aging and sickly Vietnam veteran brother, caught in the quagmire of a Veteran’s hospital.
The Pitch is produced by Jerry Velasco on a sparse stage set dominated by a huge television screen. The ensemble cast of actors take on multiple roles, and do a fine job of setting up the scenarios for the comedian.
Rodriguez is directed by Teatro Máscara Mágica’s William Virchis that gives Rodriguez plenty of comedic latitude in his serviceable script.
At the show’s end, the audience is treated to a very funny five-minute video excerpt of Rodriguez’s actual proposed sitcom pitch, The Romeros, about three generations of a family forced to live together out of necessity and the ensuing situations that occur. It features Rodriquez, his real life son Paul Rodriguez Jr. (P-Rod as he is known in the Extreme Sports world) and Edward James Olmos portraying Rodriguez’s father in a sitcom that offered promise but never went any further in the development process.
The use of music legend Lalo Guerrero’s song, Why are there No Chicanos On TV?, written 50 years ago at the height of the Chicano civil rights movement punctuates the show’s message—that despite significant breakthroughs symbolized by such stalwarts as Desi Arnaz, Ricardo Montalban, Erik Estrada, Edward James Olmos, Lupe Ontiveros, Jimmy Smits, Eva Longoria and even Paul Rodriguez himself , (who headed his own short lived sitcom A.K.A. Pablo in 1984, propelled by Norman Lear), there are only two family shows (Lear’s Latino remake of One Day at A Time on NetFlix and the CW’s Jane the Virgin) that features positive prominent Hispanic-American presence on TV in the more than 400 scripted shows that exist today in the multi-platform media universe.
Even though there are more Latino performers working than ever before, Rodriquez’s personal observations in the show sting the funny bone, reflecting an artists’ frustration with endless meetings that seem to go nowhere and belie a bitter, ugly and underlying truth on the part of the networks. For that reason alone, The Pitch should not be missed.
About The Pitch
Paul Rodriguez’s Angst of TV Execs’ Lack of Latino Understanding & Love of Stereotypes in “The Pitch”
Teatro Máscara Mágica in Association with The LATC, Present
A Limited Run
Thursday, September 14th Friday, Sept. 15th, 7:30PM, Saturday, Sept. 16th 2PM & 7:30PM and Sunday, 17th 2017, 2:00 PM Closing Matinee
General Admission: $25 Students: $15
Group Rates: $10 (Seniors, Students, military, groups over 10)
The Los Angeles Latino Theater, 514 S. Spring St. Los Angeles (Downtown)
Director: William Virchis
Producer: Jerry Velasco
Cast: Paul Rodriguez (Paul), Mike Gomez (Mike Perez), John Lopez (P-Rod), Erika Toraya (Natasha) Doug Friedman (Mr. Madden), Paul Lauden (Mr. DeWinters), Melissa Hamilton (Molly and Holly Twin Executive Secretaries), Joey Molina (G.D. & Casting Directors, TV Executive), Walter Murry (Casting Director & Dr. Jennings), Christina Murguia (P.A. Casting Director & Nurse Tucker), Paul A (Cameraman, T.V. Executive, Nurse)
Timothy Paul Evans (TV Executive), B. Anthony (Herold in focus group), Tamara Rodriguez (Rose the product placement person) and Sky Molina (Understudy)