On this day in comedy Comedian, Actor, Producer, Writer, Voice-Over Artist, Playwright, John Alberto Leguizamo was born in Bogota, Columbia
John Leguizamo decided to become funny at an early age. Once his family moved from Columbia to New York (Queens, Jackson Heights) when he was four years old, making John first generation immigrant in a tough neighborhood, he knew he had to do something to keep from getting beat up every day. Making people laugh keeps a foot out of your butt so in high school he’d write comedy bits and test them on classmates; endearing himself to many who might protect ‘the funny guy’ when fights would break out.
Once out of high school Leguizamo studied theater at Tisch School of Arts at NYU. He dropped out to become a standup comic. That phase began in 1984 on the New York club circuit; two years later he was on TV (Miami Vice). He’s appeared in scores of films including Casualties of War, Die Hard, Hangin’ with the Homeboys, Regarding Henry, Romeo + Juliet, Spawn, The Pest, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar, Moulin Rouge, The Happening, Chef, Empire, Executive Decision and Night Owl. In 1992 his role in the critically panned Super Mario Bros got him better comedy parts and his role in Carlito’s Way earned Leguizamo better dramatic parts.
There seemed to be no end to Leguizamo’s talents. He’s lent his voice to the Ice Age franchise as Sid the Sloth. He created his own sketch show for Fox called House of Buggin, which lampooned Latin life in America. Leguizamo released his memoirs in 2006 entitled Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas and All the Rest of my Hollywood Friends: My Life. He describes it as a brutally frank journey through his career and a candid look at celebrities he’s worked with; covering their homophobia, diva tendencies, sexism and sugar daddy syndromes. He adapted it into a one-man play and presented it as Klass Klown to a successful, award winning run. He then renamed it and published it as a graphic novel in 2015 called Ghetto Klown; paralleling that one-man show for which it is loosely named, including all the self-confessional insecurities, self-doubt and anxieties
In 1991 his Off-Broadway production, Mambo Mouth won Leguizamo an Obie and an Outer Critics Award. His 1993 presentation, Spic-O-Rama won him a Drama Desk Award and four Cable ACE Awards (for the HBO version) as well as a Drama Desk Award in 1998 for Freak. HOLA (Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors) presented John Leguizamo with the Rita Moreno Award for Excellence in 2008 and he was given the Made in New York Award from New York City in 2011.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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