Ja! Ja! Ja! with ‘carcajadas’

click to enlarge Ja! Ja! Ja! with ‘carcajadas’
(Laff’s/Submitted)
DJ Sandhu headlines at Laff’s Friday, Sept. 16, and Saturday, Sept. 17.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to do improv in our native language?” According to Tucson Improv Movement’s Czarina Nafarrate, that thought is what launched the popular “Carcajadas” (laughter) show now staged quarterly at the TIM Comedy Theater.

It was around 2018 when Nafarrate and fellow Latina Sara Alcazar Silva found themselves speaking in Spanish to each other at a TIM improv rehearsal. The sentiment was spontaneous and simultaneous. Soon the pair were gathering fellow Spanish-speaking improvisers into a team called “Como Se Dice” (how do you say it). It was believed to be the first all-Spanish language improv troupe in the United States, so singular that they were invited to perform at The Second City’s diversity-themed festival the following year in Los Angeles.

By 2019, the team had created “Carcajadas: Una Noche De Comedia,” an hour-long show that includes Latino standup comedians, storytellers and special guests. The show returns to the TIM stage at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 17, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Tickets are $7 via tucsonimprov.com.

Asked how she feels the show has evolved over time, Nafaratte said, “We have definitely gotten to know our audience better. We’re focusing on making the show a Spanglish event to better reflect the reality of the community’s Hispanic population.

“We want to be a safe space for all Latinx and Hispanic performers,” she said. “The performers are (always) Latinx, and most are Mexican American this time around, but we’ve had Cuban Americans, Boricuas, and more. The goal is to accept the culture of first, second, and more generations Latinx performers, no matter their language skills.”

Nafarrate acknowledged that language skills became something of a barrier in the show’s early days. “Spanglish is mostly used in border regions where speakers code-switch as needed. Even (Como Se Dice’s) native Spanish speakers occasionally forget a word or concept, so they use whichever language comes to them first.”

Como se Dice’s cast members for Sept. 17 include Nafarrate, Alcazar Silva and Vincent Dominguez. Standup comedy performers are Anthony Desamito and Steena Salido.

Special improv guests Verizon Quest are Jose Gonzalez and Marisol Chavez, two longtime players and instructors with The Torch Theatre company in Phoenix. Always high energy, Verizon Quest’s improv is fast and sometimes chaotic, merging and morphing with the speed of, say, a wireless connection. The team has performed in festivals in San Diego and Detroit as well as Tucson.

Before the show, “Carcajadas” always features local Latino artisans in the lobby. This month’s guest is Leyla’s Crafty Creations, a vendor of chocolate-covered treats and gift baskets for special occasions.

‘Jest Another Comedy Festival’

It turns out that in fact there are Ponderosa pines around San Diego County, so we can’t make any more jokes about Flagstaff’s Big Pine Comedy Festival having moved to the beach. Still, we might have to say goodbye to our chances of being chosen to perform there.

The good news is Flagstaff has a new festival in the works. Its timing is perfect to escape the last days of Sonoran summer heat, see hours of comedy, take workshops and make plans to apply to perform next year.

The Jest Another Comedy Festival is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 16, and Saturday, Sept. 17, in several downtown Flagstaff venues. Headliners Greg Wilson and Craig Gass will perform at the historic Orpheum Theater on Friday and Saturday nights respectively. Workshops and curated shows will take place in three other venues around town.

Wilson recently starred in the FOX sitcom “Ghosted” and previously on “World’s Dumbest Criminals” and “The Greatest.” He’s performed standup on “Showtime,” “Comics Unleashed” and “Comedy TV.” He hosts the podcast “Fantasy Football Harsh Reality” and co-hosts the podcast “MMA Roasted.”

Saturday afternoon Wilson will lead a workshop on “Crowd Work and Riffing.” Other Saturday activities include free laser tag and live podcast recordings including “The Mile High Show,” “Anger Management Podcast,” “The Art of Bombing” and “The Final Stop.”

Glass performs at 8 p.m. at the Orpheum. A multi-dimensional performer, Glass claims his prowess also includes singing, songwriting and stripping. His comic genius has been documented repeatedly since 1993, the result, he says, of daily grinding in the unglamorous mechanics of the comedy business.

A list of his prominent fans and mentors would be the envy of any Kardashian, but he is best known for his uncanny talent with impressions. He attributes that talent to having been raised by deaf parents. “I couldn’t learn how to talk by listening to them,” he recalled. “I learned words and sentences and sounds by copying the voices I heard on television.”

Details and registration information for Just Another Comedy Festival are at orpheumflagstaff.com/jest-another-comedy-festival.

Comedy elsewhere this week

Laff’s Comedy Caffe, 2900 E. Broadway Boulevard (presales, reservations and performer details are at laffstucson.com). $15, $20 preferred seating. 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, and Saturday, Sept. 17. DJ Sandhu. The more successful he becomes as a comedian, the more he disappoints his mother. She’ll just have to settle for that extravagant beard.

The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress Street (details and presales are at eventbrite.com). $15 to $40. 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22. “Gateway Comedy Show.” Stand-up comedians tell their best jokes, then get as high as possible and tell them again. Billy Anderson hosts.

Tucson Improv Movement/TIM Comedy Theatre, 414 E. Ninth Street (presales at tucsonimprov.com). $7 each show, $10 for both shows, free jam. 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15: Harold Epsilon and Harold Zeta; Stand Up 101 Class Showcase, 8:30 Thursday, Sept. 15. Improv Jam! 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, free; 7:30pm, The Soapbox with sound editor and comedian Kyle Verville, 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16. Stand Up Comedy Show, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. Carcajadas: Una Noche De Comedia, 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, 3v3 Tournament

Unscrewed Theater, 4500 E. Speedway Boulevard (presales at unscrewedtheatre.org). $5 kids, $8, live or remote; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16. Saturday, Sept. 17: Family-friendly improv at 6 p.m. Unscrewed Family Hour with Comic Chaos, 7:30 p.m. Into the Unscrewdiverse: Family-friendly Comic-Con Show.

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