George Lopez has tackled the late night realm on television, and is bringing a quick wit and humor that ranges far beyond his Latino roots.
From the Print Edition:
George Lopez, January/February 2010
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“I can smoke three in a round,” Lopez says. “If I’ve got a big one, I smoke it down so far I can tell the middle name of the guy who rolled it. When we played the AT&T tournament in 2004, there was a visible haze of smoke following the two of us around the golf course for all four days!”
Garcia chuckles, then denies Lopez’s description, saying, “Well, that’s why George is a comedian.” He and Lopez have been friends for a number of years because, he says, “we share a sense of humor and a simpatico. Familiar things make us laugh. And we’re both married to Cuban women.
“He shares his life in his work,” Garcia notes. “His material tends to be from his experience, his life, his culture. And George is at the top of his craft. It’s beautiful to watch someone who is that in-command.”
TBS is hoping that the mass audience shares Garcia’s appreciation of Lopez and “Lopez Tonight,” the network’s first attempt at a late-night talk show. The show is aiming at a younger, more ethnically diverse demographic—and Lopez’s humor tends toward the rowdy. He’s as willing to go low-comedy (jokes about the Kardashian sisters’ taste in jewelry which, Lopez notes, includes “pearl necklaces”) as to be provocative (his ongoing list of proofs that Sarah Palin is secretly a Latina: “She’s got a baby and a grandbaby that are the same age—Latina!”)
“George’s whole idea was, ‘Let’s make it a party,’ ” says Michael Wright, executive vice president and head of programming for TBS, TNT and TCM. “He said, ‘Let’s have fun.’ He wanted the comedy to be more raw and youthful. This is not a talk show with a guy behind a desk.”
Adds Paratore, “Part of George’s motivation came while he was working on the Obama campaign in 2008. He felt the energy of this new generation and saw what a multicultural world it had become.”
What Lopez brings to the show—what he brings to his stand-up—is a sense of humor about the culture itself, from a viewpoint that doesn’t usually get the chance to poke this kind of edgy fun at the majority. Born and reared in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, the Mexican-American Lopez frequently refers to himself on the show as a Chicano, a Latino and a Mexican, and he regularly points out that he’s the only Latino hosting a major TV talk show.
Still, Garcia says, it’s wrong to pigeonhole Lopez as a Latino-American comedian: “We’re all Americans,” he says. But he notes that what Lopez’s presence on TV represents is invaluable.
“I don’t have to be from the same ethnic background as Richard Pryor to get his humor,” Garcia says. “It’s the same with George. But culturally, it’s an important thing for young Hispanics and Chicanos to have that role model. He’s someone they can identify with—someone from their neighborhood—and he’s a role model.”
Some early critics of “Lopez Tonight” sniped at Lopez for leaning on ethnicity in his humor. But, Lopez says, that’s part of who he is and it’s always been part of his act.
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Eric Walker — Charlston , WV, USA, — August 30, 2011 8:49am ET
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