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The Record

Three Latinos Merge Talent; Film To Resemble 'Kings Of Comedy'


25 February 2005
Copyright © 2005 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

WHAT: "The Latin Legends of Comedy," with Joey Vega, Angel Salazar and JJ Ramirez.

* * *

After performing stand-up for the last 25 years, Joey Vega knows the comedy business is not all laughs - especially for minority comics.

Though Latin comedians, no doubt, broke through the mainstream years ago, Vega says the volume could and should increase.

"Latin comics don't seem to have the mentality of helping other Latin comics," the Hackensack resident said by phone from his father's house in Puerto Rico. "They think, 'If I help this guy out I may lose my place.' I think it would actually enhance their resume and stature in the business because you seem like a better person and the elder statesman."

With that in mind comes "The Latin Legends of Comedy," a national tour and motion picture featuring Vega and fellow comedians Angel Salazar and JJ Ramirez. A year ago, director Ray Ellin, a friend and fellow comic with his own list of accolades, decided to document three of the brightest Latin stand-up performers in the country and their 23-year friendship.

In the process, Ellin maxed out six of his credit cards. He says it was worth it. "The more I worked with them, the more it started to bother me that despite their individual successes and achievements, they have more or less flown under the radar," he said.

Not unlike "The Original Kings of Comedy" - which bolstered the careers of black comics Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley and Steve Harvey - "The Latin Legends of Comedy" features sets from each comic and interviews with each.

Vega hopes that the film and subsequent tour will help promote his style of comedy. Although he does plenty of material about being Latin, he's careful to frame it with themes in which everyone, regardless of skin color and ethnic background, can relate. "It shouldn't matter if you're black, Jewish or Irish," he said.

"I talk mostly about relationships between men and women," Vega said. "There's some political stuff in there and a lot about sex."

Even if the film doesn't do as well as "The Original Kings of Comedy," Vega will be happy to have been able to work with Ramirez and Salazar; all three are national headliners and therefore rarely have the opportunity to perform together.

"It's great that I'm working with these guys because we've been friends so long," he says. "It's not even work really. Just traveling together gets crazy sometimes."

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