Saturday, June 13, 2009

Latino version of "SNL" strikes funny bone

NY Latino Community Examiner
Clarisel Gonzalez,

“Ay, Que Funny” is not just another comedy show; it’s a Spanglish "Saturday Night Live"(SNL) style show made up of live and filmed skits that are written and performed by Latinas.

"The show’s entertainment portion features talented Latinos in music, dance, film, theater and stand-up,” says Jesenia Bailey who wrote, directed and produced the show with Crystal Roman.

They developed the show to promote comedy portrayed by a Latino cast. What started as a random idea, “Ay, Que Funny” has become a passion to promote comedic Latino actors. The “Ay, Que Funny” show debuts at the Nuyorican Poets Café in NYC’s Lower East Side at 7 p.m. June 26.

Bailey says she and Roman came up with their show’s name because of their background, described as “Nuyorican from Nuyo-Rico (aka: The Bronx).”

Their show’s name is also in recognition of their mixing of Spanish and English. “Spanglish seems to be our second language,” Bailey says. “So, when thinking about the show's title, “Ay, Que Funny” just popped right out at us. Also, it’s something that my grandma used to yell out, when I would sing at family gatherings.”

Their show is similar to SNL in that it incorporates both live and filmed skits as well as musical guests and hosts, but it's also different because it has a Latino flavor.

"All of our skits incorporate Latin-styled humor that's inspired by our upbringing and our point of view,” Bailey says, adding that they spoof reality/TV shows, Latino celebrities, Latino remedies and more.

“It's just so gosh darn funny to make fun of something your abuelita thought could cure cancer and put hairs on your chest, all at the same time.”

The “Ay, Que Funny” show features a predominantly female cast and the lead writers are Latinas. The show only has two male cast members who are joined by “six WEPA-FUNNY ladies.”

Among the show’s highlights, according to Bailey, is its “FLAN music video” and its skits. The show also counts with guest hosts including actress April Lee Hernandez (of the movie “Freedom Writers”) and Victor Cruz (TV/Film Actor), as well as entertainment such as “The Soul Steppin Divas,” “Danza Fiesta” and “Tha Heights.”

The short-term goal for the young and ambitious “Ay, Que Funny” producers is to sell out each of the four shows at the Nuyorican Poets Café (June 26, July 3, July 17 and July 24). Their long-term goal is to continue with the show and “possibly get some TV air-time on a major network.”

“Performing at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe is definitely A DREAM COME TRUE to everyone in the cast,” Bailey says. “It's so full of history and passion for Latino Arts, so it is our dream location to perform – except we’d like to be on air.”

So, watch out SNL!

Bailey’s favorite comedian is SNL alum: “late-great Chris Farley.”

“To me, Chris Farley is the epitome of my kind of comedy: PHYSICAL,” she says. “I believe in no shame is the name of the game.”

Other favorites are: Lucille Ball, Jim Carey, Ben Stiller and out of all people, “Michael Jackson (LBL!!! - Laughing Bien Loud),” she says.

“Ay, Que Funny” also serves as a platform to showcase Latina comedic talent.

“As a female comedian, it's hard to be taken seriously, especially with the type of humor that I like; people usually think I'm INSANE,” she says. “I don't like cursing with my mouth, but I'd curse with my body anytime (whatever that means.)

“People tend to doubt whether female comedians can BRING IT! But with a great support system from Crystal Roman, the cast, my family and God, I feel I can do ALL things, like una super mujer (a super woman).”

Bailey says the show challenged writers not to make the obvious choices in humor. “We aimed for intelligent and unexpected humor,” she says. “In the end, we feel that we have a show that we’re proud of as Latinos in comedy.”

For more information about “Ay, Que Funny,” go to

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