Playing at the historic Studio 54 Theatre, John Leguizamo's Latin History for Morons is a high-energy, well-researched one-man show in which Leguizamo strives to show his young son (voiced by Leguizamo as well) that there are Latino heroes past and present despite the school system never teaching about them.
In 90 minutes, complete with music, dance and a gigantic chalkboard, Leguizamo journeys through time to satirically show how the Tainos, Aztecs, Incas and other native tribes of the Americas have fought in every single war in the USA all while making major contributions in every aspect of life, from tomatoes, potatoes and chocolate to medicine and basketball.
It is an interesting, educational and cutting take on the history everyone knows is there but do not know enough to actually discuss with anyone else, leaving everyone to wrongly assume it must not be important.
Therein lies the crux of the school bully's harassment of Leguizamo's middle-school son, whom Leguizamo calls "Buddy" during the show. Buddy is, Leguizamo says, the student the other kids "go to first for homework and the last they ask to the dance," a sad, sobering statement to hear any parent relate about their child.
In an effort to bolster Buddy's self-esteem and help him with the project he needs to graduate middle school, Leguizamo takes him and the audience through every era in American history (and before), right up to the present day of the plight of Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria and the current president's dismissive treatment of the Puerto Ricans living there.
Leguizamo begins by hearkening back to the 1980s, when he was in history class with Mr. Flynn, a New York City public school teacher with the decidedly brilliant idea of putting a rear-view mirror on his chalkboard to watch the antics going on behind his back. He states his disbelief that his son is enduring the same marginalization he faced in school nearly three decades before, and is determined to fill in the gaps in the educational system.
However, Leguizamo's terrible racist impressions of other minority groups weaken his stance about railing back at the school bully who tortures his son by saying his racial minority group is nothing. They are unnecessary and undercut his whole argument, all for the sake of cheap laughs. The subject matter and the audience deserve better than that.