(Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Growing up in Queens, John Leguizamo was the class clown. His classroom disruptions were so entertaining that his teacher finally handed him the number for an acting instructor. In his one-man play, “Ghetto Klown,” actor John Leguizamo talks about the barriers facing Latinos in Hollywood, his struggles to impress his father, and his rise from extra in a Madonna music video to successful film actor.

A Clip from 'Ghetto Klown'

Watch Tales from a Ghetto Klown: RayRay on PBS. See more from PBS Arts.

'House of Buggin'' Spooks Westside Story

Leguizamo on When His Father Drank

WARNING: Strong language; not appropriate for children

John Leguizamo's First Role — An Extra in a Madonna Video

John Leguizamo on Sesame Street as Captain Vegetable

Guests:
John Leguizamo, writer, actor and performer; his current one-man show, 'Ghetto Klown," plays April 26-27 at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco

  • thucy

    19 or 20 years ago, we paid five bucks (five big ones!) to watch Leguizamo’s Christmas show with the inimitable Luis Guzman somewhere on the east side (?) I think it was an annual thing with him and Guzman – they did it to blow off steam and get beer money?
    I was about the funniest, stupidest, most joyful bunch of nonsense I’ve ever seen. I took two med students who were theater snobs – they were appalled by how much they enjoyed it.
    For years, we’ve enjoyed Leg.’s more serious, thoughtful shows, and loved quoting his classic bad guy line to mob underling Guzman from Carlito’s Way: “No, ju (you) stay here.”

    Tragedy is simple; Comedy impossible. Leguizamo is a freaking genius.

  • Guest

    As a young Hispanic/Latino boy growing up on the east side of San
    Jose I can’t help but idolize John Leguizamo. I aspire to be a writer
    and a performer and seeing this man do so well, and readiing all his
    comedy and his autobiography,
    i have to say that he just
    brings out inspiration. The man is a genius inn his work and I can only
    feel connected, I can draw from my own experiences when I hear his work,
    and I just think that that is part of his brilliance. I am happily
    going to see his show tomorrow, having already watched the Documentary
    about it. As a closing statement I would like to say that it has always
    been a dream of mine to see one of his shows, and more so to meet him

  • thucy

    Please ask him what it was like – as a young man – to nearly out-do Al Pacino and Sean Penn in Carlito’s Way.

    Here’s a link to a great scene with the three of them:

    http://youtu.be/D-043a58Mgo

    (youtube makes you watch 30 sec of a commercial first, BUT IT’s WORTH IT, esp. for the doo-rag they have Sean Penn wear)

    • erictremont

      That indeed was one of his greatest performances.

  • thucy

    Would he consider working with Danny Hoch (Jails, Hospitals and Hip-Hop), or would it be just too much crazy writing/acting/one-man-show-maestro talent in one room.

  • thucy

    I can’t believe caller “Kim” confused Leguizamo with Benicio Del Toro! Besides “latino” they are totally different talents.

  • ami zins

    I’m directing a one man play called Cops & Robbers
    written and performed by Jinho “The Piper” Fereirra, who is a rapper with the
    alternative hip hop group Flipsyde and who also works in law enforcement. In the show Piper plays 15 characters and I
    think the reason people love it is seeing one person play so many characters is
    that it makes it easier for the audience to find little pieces of each
    character in themselves. This can be
    especially powerful for plays that take on tough social issues, such as ours
    does, which deals with the community reaction to a police officer shooting a
    young black man in Oakland.

    In fact the Rotary Club of Oakland just gave us a grant to
    do a series of community performances of the play the Kaiser Auditorium in
    Oakland, beginning May 18, for which Rotary will fund tickets for hundreds of
    youth to attend.

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