This weekend San Diego was the Mecca for nerds, geeks, and fans alike attending Comic-Con. However, the place to be in San Diego on Friday night was the Centro Cultural de la Raza for its inaugural Comic Conga - an after Comic-Con party celebrating Latino Art. Admission was free for Comic-Con pass holders and was a casual, fun environment embracing the Chicano artistry and heritage that most could say is missing in the popular Comic-Con gathering despite its proximity to the Mexican border and the largely Mexican-American community of Logan Heights that is also the host for Chicano Con.
But a lot of the spotlight at Comic Conga was on Lalo Alcaraz and his premiere of a full episode of the new animated comedy series from Seth MacFarlane and Mark Hentemann - popularly known from Family Guy. Lalo is one of five Latino writers on the show and the episode that was premiered that evening - that he co-wrote - proved how good this show will be.
When the trailer for the show first aired there was a lot of negative feedback and natural hesitancy that the show was going to have Mexicans at the butt of the jokes in a negative and hurtful way. Some feared that this type of comedy would set us back on any progress we may have made. But with a popular political and satirical cartoon artist like Lalo behind it, those naysayers could not be more wrong.
Yes, the cartoon is filled with jokes that poke fun of the stereotypes behind Mexican-Americans and those who grew up living next to the border. However, these are our own jokes that we use to make fun of ourselves, something that is more evident knowing that there are real Latino's behind these jokes. We're allowed to poke fun of ourselves - this style of comedy is not anything new. How many times have you rolled your eyes at the fact that your Abuelitos and Tíos keep the Christmas lights on the house year round? That's the type of response you will have throughout the show: "Oh God, that's something my Tío would do!"
The show has been in the works for several years, but the release date could not have a more perfect timing. It was recently announced that California is now a state where Hispanics are no longer the minority but have finally claimed the spot as the majority - a statistic that will play favorably in the acceptance of the show. It is a statistic that we embrace with open arms. When Lalo had called out in his introduction of the first clips from Bordertown that he was about to play that we needed to "be nice to minorities," the crowd erupted in laughs. That was indicative of the response from the gathering throughout the entire showing of the episode - raucous laughter.
The spotlight has been on the Hispanic community a lot with debates revolving around immigration reform and the importance of the Latino vote in the upcoming presidential election. Without needing to perpetuate any ignorant remarks made by potential presidential candidates, this spotlight has shown that the Latino community can rally together to prove how strong, large, and important we are. It is a proud time to be Latino and to be Mexican-American, which is why the timing for this kind of show works.
As a native of a large border town city, San Diego, the jokes resonated with me in a way that made me feel like I was laughing at jokes that my primo and family were telling - not clean, sometimes borderline, but with a point. That, at the end of the show, was the takeaway: there was a point that was made about what it is like living as a Latino in America. More importantly though, that the idea is now evolving beyond stereotypes as we grow in numbers - now it will be us letting the minorities in on the inside jokes when the show premieres in January 2016.
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