Comedy goes on despite mishaps

Miki Johnson

A missing headlining act and late start time did not prevent the fifth annual Marcus Marinho Comedy Beatdown from drawing more than 200 people to Technological Institute on Saturday night.

Latino comedian Pablo Francisco, who was the scheduled main act for the event sponsored by Alianza and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, missed his Saturday flight from New York City.

Because Francisco could not make the event, organizers reduced regular admission from $10 to $7, and student and faculty admission from $7 to $5.

Although several audience members said they were disappointed about not seeing Francisco, Alianza President Edith Rivera said no one decided not to buy a ticket upon hearing that Francisco would not be performing.

Alex Ortiz, a featured performer on Black Entertainment Television’s “Comic View” replaced Francisco on Saturday night.

Ortiz told the audience he was “sitting in his boxers watching TV” when Alianza’s agent called him to do the show. Rivera said Alianza will pay Ortiz a smaller fee than it would have given to Francisco, who will not receive any compensation for the non-appearance.

The show started more than an hour late because Alianza was waiting for Ortiz to drive to NU. But Rivera said there were no complaints about the show’s delayed start time.

“Because of the fact that we brought another comedian and it was still a good show, people felt it was worth the wait,” said Rivera, a Communication junior.

Due to Francisco’s absence, scheduled performer Darren Carter, who has been on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and BET’s “Comic View,” was moved from the first act to the final set.

Carter poked fun at the “pasty white skin” and red hair he inherited from his Irish family as he joking about his childhood in a predominantly Latino neighborhood in California.

Carter told the audience the Latino kids would make fun of his red hair by calling him “gallo” or “rooster.”

“And I worked at KFC. A rooster working at Kentucky Fried Chicken,” Carter said. “Those guys would come in, see me eating chicken on my break, (and) they’d be like, ‘Cannibal!'”

Although Carter was the event’s only non-Latino comedian, several audience members said Carter accurately represented the culture.

“(Carter) had a really good perspective on Hispanic culture,” said Anna Maria Carvallo, a ’99 Northwestern graduate and friend of Marcus Marinho, the Brazilian NU student who died in 1997 and for whom the show was created.

Ortiz was the event’s second act, following Sara Contreras, who received a female performer prize from the New York Comedy Club’s Latino Laughter Comedy Awards.

Both Ortiz and Contreras used their Puerto Rican heritage as the basis for large parts of their sets, often lapsing into Spanish.

All three comedians dealt openly with touchy subjects, but Rivera said the jokes did not reflect badly on Latino culture.

“It’s good for people to remember to laugh at themselves,” she said.

Although Ortiz performed on short notice, he was well received by the audience. After touching on subjects ranging from disciplining children to watching cartoons as a child to flying after Sept. 11, 2001, Ortiz said he wanted to do one dirty joke before the end of his act.

“People always say ‘Once you go black, you never go back,'” Ortiz said. “But I say, ‘Once you’ve had some of this Puerto Rican tongue, you don’t care how long that black man is hung.”

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