Having already experienced a small dose of El Jaguar’s explosive character in the 5 Star Comedy Preview in the early weeks of this year’s NZ International Comedy Festival, I absolutely had to go along to his solo show El Jaguar: Telenovela.
A show of this nature suited the incredibly intimate venue that we were ushered into, as we were welcomed by none other than the star himself frantically pouring glasses of water for all who entered the room. It was like dining in a family-owned Mexican restaurant with the eccentric owner running around making sure everyone was happy.
But as with everything about El Jaguar, this frantic nature did not reflect nerves but was all part of an act. At the flick of a switch he would delve into conversation with an audience member with a penetrating stare through his fury little mask, one foot casually up on a stool, red leotard stretched to the brink. Because in El Jaguar style, this show was all about the audience interaction rather than himself.
At the start of the show El Jaguar explained his ambition to break down the emotional walls that kiwis typically tended to have up around strangers. We were to dig down into the core of our being and find the ‘fiery passion’ that he believed to be hidden inside. I think what he was trying to say that inside every New Zealander is a little fiery Mexican like him, begging to be unleashed (like a loveable tumor).
The overall structure of the show was to coach the audience into the acting style behind a ‘Telenovela’ (a melodramatic latino-style soap opera). And in order to brainstorm ideas around the sorts of drama that would typically unfold in a Telenovela, questions to the audience were thrown out at random. I could sense that some of the audience, of whom the majority fell into the ‘emotional walls around strangers’ stereotype, felt discomfort in being asked such personal questions about broken families and unstable relationships with their parents.
I thought the show perhaps depended a little too much on the audience, the content of their stories and the time taken to prepare audience members for acting exercises conducted by the man we had all come to see. Although where there were short lulls of entertainment, El Jaguar certainly made up for it when all engines were go again. If this Comedy Festival has left you hungry for some spotlight, then this show is for you. The unwavering energy and enthusiasm from the pocket rocket of El Jaguar is incredibly contagious, so much so that he can’t help himself but share the spotlight to eager victims amongst the crowd. But I won’t give too much away – you’ll have to see the show for yourself to find out what the hell that means!
What: El Jaguar: Telenovela
Who: El Jaguar
When: 16th May
Where: The Classic Studio