In The Crazy Mexican Show, two Mexican-American women sit on stage, talking about many things, including food. "Why can't Caucasians eat regular food, like menudo, chicharrón, lengua and cesos?" they wonder. Tofu, veggie burgers and soy milk -- now that's some weird stuff.
Writer Alvaro Saar Rios explains what he's trying to do with the scene. "What is regular food?" he asks. "I eat veggie burgers and soy milk. I eat kung pao tofu and all that stuff, but my Latino friends make fun of me. They're like, 'What's up with that? Aren't you Mexican?'
"This stuff is actually a little better for me than that menudo and barbacoastuff," he says. "I eat that stuff too, but I don't think I cease to be Mexican because I don't eat it every day."
The Crazy Mexican Show is a series of skits about the Latino experience in the United States. "We cover various different things in this," he says, "from selling diet menudo, to two people sitting around talking about why one of them doesn't date white girls anymore."
In another one of the skits, the Royal Mexican Players decide to do their own version of the ending of Romeo and Juliet, called Rogelio and Juliana. "When we audition for Shakespeare plays, depending on how progressive the director is, we'll most likely play a maid, we'll play a soldier," he says. "It'd be nice to play the Danish prince."
Another skit revolves around one of the players acting like an Englishman who happens to be dark. "Everybody confuses him for Pakistani and so he decided he was going to fit better if he blended here in the United States -- as long as he learned to talk like a Mexican," says Rios, who came up with that concept based on a Mexican-American friend who went to England and kept being mistaken for Pakistani.
Lest you think the play's themes are limited specifically to the experiences of Latinos, witness College Male, a character who falls in love with a woman only to discover she has hairy armpits. "So he starts to question, 'Does she cease to be beautiful because of those hairy underarms?' " says Rios. College Male ends up worrying about what his friends will think. "He knows they're going to mess with him."
Yet another scene involves a woman coming home with a bad haircut. Her hapless mate must then lie to her about how she looks in order to avoid her wrath. "It's not a Latino issue," says Rios. "It's everybody's issue. It's a dating issue.
"I don't want to be known as a Latino writer or a Hispanic writer," he says. "I just want to be a writer." Fair enough, but that doesn't mean Rios doesn't enjoy taking a jab at his own people. "There are certain characters who are kind of representative of our own culture, say the woman selling diet menudo," he says. "For me, that's the first people I love to attack: Latinos. We're hypocritical in various ways. Let's make fun of ourselves first, and then we'll make fun of everyone else."