News Column

'Latin Comedy Jam' Keeps Audience Laughing

August 16, 2013

Merced Sun-Star

A quartet of popular comedians entertained more than 500 people at the Merced Theatre on Saturday during the "Latin Comedy Jam."

Promoter Mike Acquisto-Gotti, 37 of Phoenix, Ariz., said the show featured an array of performers.

According to Acquisto-Gotti, veteran comedian Luke Torres has been one of the top-rated Latino comedians in recent years and was one of the original cast members of the comedy show "In Living Color."

"Even though it's a Latin-based show, it's very culturally diverse," he said. "I think it hits a lot of different genres, and a lot of different ethnic groups can laugh at it.

"It's kind of like a comedy soup. It's like not menudo because everybody doesn't like menudo, but it's kind of like posole. Everybody can enjoy a good bowl of posole," Acquisto-Gotti said.

Comedian Johnny Sanchez, the voice of Lombardo the penguin from the popular animated movie "Happy Feet," emceed and opened the show.

Former NASA rocket scientist Shayla Rivera, a native Puerto Rican, took the stage after Torres. Rivera said people told her she should become a comedian after she spoke at corporate events. She's been doing comedy for 20 years.

"Merced is one of the hottest audiences. They understand timing and are very sophisticated," Rivera said.

Closing the show was up-and-comer Jerry Garcia, 32, of Huntington Park. Visiting the area for the third time, Garcia said Merced has become a big part of his fan base.

"I use to tour with Jeff Garcia, a big headlining Latino comic, and we've been here two times before. So that's why they asked me to close," said Garcia.

"I've built some sort of a fan base here, so they asked me to go last this time. It was very flattering because these are very funny veteran comics that were asked to open for me today.

"I'm usually first, second, or third, but never last," he said, "so a lot of thanks to Merced for that."

Garcia said he was named after Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. "My dad's boss at the time, in 1982, was a big-time 'Dead Head' dude. He asked my dad, 'Please, would you name your son Jerry for me?' My dad said, 'I don't know. Let me ask my wife.' "

"He goes, 'Dude, I'll give you $50 if you name your son Jerry.' In 1982, bro, my dad took the 50 bucks and said, 'Allright, my son's gonna be Jerry Garcia.' "

Laura Mendoza, 38, of Merced, said she heard about the show from area radio station Hot 105 and from her brother on Facebook.

"Oh my gosh, it was great. I was laughing the whole time," said Mendoza.

The Merced Theatre will play host to another comedy show on Sept. 6 when Perico Productions Presents "Comedy All-Stars Come to Town."

For more on events and shows at the Merced Theatre, go to www.mercedtheatre.org.

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(c)2013 the Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.)

Visit the Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.) at www.mercedsunstar.com

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