Black folks love fried chicken. Mexicans are always getting caught at the border and Asians excel in math. If you want to pass an algebra test, sit next to one and the A+ is practically guaranteed. Before anyone sends any e-mails about ‘how racist these remarks are' and urge my editor to pull a Don Imus and fire me, or else, these comments and others are explored in the your face performance N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK or for politically correct purposes NWC.


Miles Gregley in one of his infamous tirades with friends Rafael Agustin (far left) and Allan Axibal (right) watching his back.



Three young, talented men with balls of steel blatantly put out the racial insecurities that people used to talk about on the low. The recent Imus episode was just a minor blip in denouncing tolerance. Let's face it the 1971 Coca Cola ad "I Want to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)" was an altruistic but somewhat unrealistic concept.

Talking about other races in unflattering terms whether out of anger or ignorance is nothing new. Comics Chris Rock and the late Richard Pryor made a career out of it. Actor Carroll O'Connor played the prose master of racial insults for 8 years as the irascible Archie Bunker on the CBS sitcom All in the Family and won both the Emmy and Golden Globe.

Axibal (left), Agustin (center) and Gregley (right) whipping out the race card.


However, if late night talk show hosts Leno or O'Brien ever hinted at the slightest hint of impropriety, the checks will instantly stop. But at the NWC show anything goes especially when a lot of it is true and said humorously with a wink and a fiendish smile.

Courtesy of CP time, show started 15 minutes late. Then, the instigators of racial disharmony, Rafael Agustín, Miles Gregley and Allan Axibal walk out with their expected ethnic attire. Agustín got the uniform down: baggy pants, tight white muscle shirt and a bandana so low it's debatable if he could see at all. Gregley looked like Supafly's bastard child in wearing a long fur coat with a wide brim hat and a feather. Axibal looked like he was getting ready to kick Ralph Macchio's ass in The Karate Kid with a kimono-esqe shirt and headband as he practiced deadly martial arts moves.

Gregley re-living a painful moment in junior high. Photo by Carol Petersen


They go through a montage of clichés of how their respective race is perceived. Agustín is the vato working at Home Depot and Gregley devours watermelon as if a food ration is threatening to invade. Axibal is the only one with a positive stereotype: the model minority. Always on time with the rent, never late for work, excellent credit history and perfect SAT scores. The type of person most of us hate. At one point in their lives, all three men dabbled with ‘going to the other side.' As a youngster, Axibal had a deep-seated wish to be Tom Cruise from Risky Business. Gregley had an infatuation for 80s pop singer George Michael, in his cooler days not now, and Agustín wanted to be former President Ronald Reagan. He knew he had to explain this selection in more detail why he wanted to emulate the former actor, governor and president. His reasons are still questionable.

Gregley and Augustin rolling their eyes as Axibal talks.


Gregley discovered he was black at 13-years old when he read out loud Huck Finn in class. When he came to the N word in the book, he froze and the room stood silent. Like Tupac, all eyes were on him waiting for a response. Suddenly, he became the poster child for all of Black America. He talked about his tough transition from California boy to Southern gentleman when he and his mom moved to Georgia. The racial identity crisis he experienced was painful and confusing, not knowing where he fit in and tried desperately to be accepted somewhere. Thankfully, he can recall it with a sense of humor. Axibal followed the same path recalling the time when a little girl told him he can never be Tom Cruise because Cruise is American and he's Chinese. He is actually Filipino and yes there is a difference. All that childhood distressing memory brought forth all the discomfort he had as a little boy whose dreams were suddenly crushed. His cohorts walked the same excruciating road but were able to find the absurdity and laugh at themselves and the society who pigeonholed them.

Partly for laughs and part autobiographical, the three UCLA alums clown on each other throughout the show. Their ability to take a serious matter that continues to thrive in this country and add their wicked sense of jesting on it makes it okay to laugh and agree on what they say out loud. I enjoyed how Agustín would flex his biceps and chest, Axibal does the signatory ‘wahh' Bruce Lee chant and Gregley would constantly remind every woman he's the big black man with a super endowed package, there's even a T-shirt for sale emblazoned with that proud declaration, when they ran out of insightful things to say. Think of NWC as Crash for the stage. Honest, realistic, sad and funny all wrapped up in a hysterical box with a middle finger designed ribbon on top. Crash won the Oscar for Best Picture three years ago and NWC will have the same explosive impact in theater. So what do you know? Racism does pay! 

N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK plays at The New Ivar Theatre, 1605 Ivar Ave., Hollywood, Wed - Sun at 8 p.m. Fri & Sat late night at 10:30 p.m. until Sunday, July 29. No performance Wednesday, July 4. For tickets call (323) 960-7782 or reserve online at www.NWClive.com

 

 

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