Poster: Mr. Television
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House Of Buggin' aired from January until April 1995 on FOX.
Antic, baby-faced comedian John Leguizamo, born in Columbia and raised in Queens, New York, was the star of this sketch comedy series that looked like a Hispanic version of In Living Color. Leguizamo played a variety of ethnic types and even appeared in drag. Among his recurring characters were Koji Ono, host of a cheap Asian TV Talk Show, and Reuben Martinez, host of Pass The Buck, a TV Game Show. Another recurring sketch featuring Leguizamo and his supporting cast as a group of Hispanic guys in a movie theater making cracks about the films on the screen.
The supporting cast included Jorge Luis Abreu, Tammi Cubilettte, Yelba Osorio, David Herman, and Luis Guzman.
As for that strange title, the producers defined " Buggin'" as follows: " the state of truly free insanity where the rules of life have been temporarily suspended and all behavior, no matter how outrageous, is deemed appropriate."
An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on January 13, 1995
John Leguizamo wants to be a household name -- The "House of Buggin'" star hopes his FOX show will be a hit
More With an eerie 3-D holographic portrait of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin hovering on the wall behind him, John Leguizamo is scurrying around his office at the Queens, N.Y., studio where his new Fox sketch comedy show, House of Buggin', is being taped. His eyes still bleary from a night out at a karaoke club in the Bronx, Leguizamo is going over the latest version of his bio with his publicist. ''I don't know if we should use this thing about Lee Strasberg. I only studied with him for one day, and then the next week he died,'' he teases her. ''I have that effect on people, you know.''
Fox is certainly hoping Leguizamo won't have that effect on viewers. The network has given Buggin' a comfy time slot after new episodes of The Simpsons on Sundays — it debuted Jan. 8 — positioning the raucously satirical series, with its six-member, almost all-Latino cast, as an In Living Color for the '90s.
Still, as Fox's ubiquitous ads hyping Buggin' put it, ''What's a Leguizamo?'' For starters, a Leguizamo is a gifted performer whose critically acclaimed one-man, multicharacter off-Broadway shows Mambo Mouth and Spic-O-Rama were picked up by HBO as one-hour specials. A Leguizamo is also a film actor whose roles have ranged from the underappreciated (Carlito's Way, Hangin' With the Homeboys) to the forgettable (Whispers in the Dark, Super Mario Bros.). But in 1995, with Buggin' and high-profile turns in the feature films To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, and Pyromaniacs: A Love Story, Leguizamo may well become a household word.
Leguizamo quickly developed a chameleonlike talent for transforming himself, vocally and visually, into an array of bizarre characters. One of the recurring bits on Buggin' features Leguizamo as Cogi, an Asian talk-show host who mercilessly taunts his guests, all of whom are obscure siblings of celebrities. Berating Juliette Lewis's sister (played by Yelba Osorio), Cogi cracks, ''If you're going to get anywhere in show business, you have to learn to suck thumb.''
As catty as Cogi is, he's imbued with a coy vulnerability Leguizamo developed over the years, primarily in his varied theatrical forays into transvestism. Leguizamo has a dazzling track record in high heels, which will climax in the upcoming cross-dressing comedy To Wong Foo, costarring Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes. Leguizamo offers his expert opinion on Snipes: ''He's a funny-looking woman, boy. Not the kind of woman that you want to bring home to your mother. He's the kind of woman you have after thousands of beers. All the women are gone, and it's the last booty call.''
But ''Johnny Leggs'' fans will be disappointed to learn that early episodes of Buggin' may offer the last of his antic cross-dressing. ''I'm tired of it. I have bra burns from Wong Foo,'' he grimaces. ''I have corns and bunions on my little virgin feet.''
Leguizamo had been equally reluctant to commit to a TV series, fearing the effect it might have on his movie career. But the significance of becoming the first Latino since Desi Arnaz to star in, cowrite, and coproduce a prime-time show finally sold him on the idea. ''I made this choice because this was where I could make my life count a little more,'' says Leguizamo, suddenly becoming serious.
Although Buggin' has its share of Latino-oriented humor — a parody of Hair Club for Men ads features a blond-wigged, British-accented Leguizamo selling ''illegal alien makeovers'' — that won't be the show's only focus. ''John likes to consider himself a descendant of the Incas, but I think he's Jewish,'' says Buggin' writer and Leguizamo confidante David Katz. ''He's like a sexier, more aggressive Woody Allen, doing that jester shtick from Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask).''
And like the young Woody Allen, Leguizamo prefers not to numb the audience with politics. ''We're a hip, young, urban sketch comedy group that happens to be Latin,'' he insists. ''We don't have to hit you over the head with it all the time. Just the fact that the cast is Latin, whatever we do it's gonna have that color, that political or social commentary.''
Even so, Leguizamo is on a mission to boldly go where no Latino has gone before. ''We really want to do a Star Trek skit, because there never were any Latins in Star Trek,'' he says enthusiastically. ''Except for Wrath of Khan. And I don't know if Ricardo Mantalban playing an Asian counts.''
An Article from The New York Daily News
IRREVERENCE IS 'HOUSE' SPECIALTY REGARDLESS OF CRITICISM, LEGUIZAMO'S COMEDY SHOW HAS A SET MENU
BY ROBERT DOMINGUEZ
Friday, January 20th 1995, 3:82AM
IS IT OFFENSIVE? DEPENDS ON YOUR SEnsibilities. Funny? That depends on your sense of humor.
But whatever you think of it, "House of Buggin' " comes to television at just the right time.
It's currently the only nationally broadcast comedy show specifically geared to a Latino audience. Yet, the downside for many is that "Buggin' " is the brainchild of John Leguizamo, the Colombian-born actor whose successful Off-Broadway, one-man shows managed to tweak many a nose in the Latino community.
Both "Mambo Mouth" in 1991 and "Spic-O-Rama" two years later featured characters a transvestite prostitute in "Mambo," for instance; a dysfunctional family in "Spic-O-Rama" that offended people who felt Leguizamo was perpetuating stereotypes.
So at a time when Latinos are lobbying hard for recognition in the entertainment industry (last week, a coalition of Latino groups threatened to boycott ABC unless more Latino-oriented programing was forthcoming), "House of Buggin' " becomes the proverbial double-edged sword: A Latino finally gets a national TV stage, but most of Leguizamo's characterizations are the typical tranvestites, dimwitted dames and gang member portrayals that elicit Latino rancor.
Leguizamo, long used to the criticism, makes no apologies. "I believe in spoofing oneself to the max. I like to be able to do it with Latin people, or even myself. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is off-limits," says Leguizamo from the "Buggin' " set.
"I'm aggressive; I'm not gonna play it safe. My work always affects people. If it doesn't, it's not worthwhile."
"Buggin' " debuted two Sundays ago on Fox (Ch. 5; 8:30 p.m.) and the ratings have been encouraging, so Leguizamo does have his fans. But the show's humor is as scattershot as a drive-by shooting. The only inspired bit so far was having "West Side Story's" dancing, prancing Sharks face off against a fully armed, modern-day Latino gang. Some recurring skits three Chicano cholos "outing" Anglo celebrities as closet Latinos (Vanna White is really Vanna Blanca), or Leguizamo as an abrasive talk-show host from Japan are about as funny as an earthquake.
While the show deals almost exclusively with Latino-oriented humor, Leguizamo brushes off any notion the show is a test case for Fox, reportedly primed to dive head-long into the virtually untapped Latino market. Nor will Leguizamo take responsibility if "Buggin' " gets swatted in the ratings and networks use its failure as an excuse not to take a chance on shows with Latino themes.
"Fox wanted me to do a show, and I created the show I wanted. I tell my stories, I involve Latinos, and I have a Latino cast," says Leguizamo.
"There is no failure if it's been on the air, it's had life, and it was high-profile. You just move on."
To watch some clips from House of Buggin' go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=house+of+buggin%27&aq=f
For John Leguizamo's Official Website go to http://leguizamo.ning.com/
· Date: Sun April 29, 2007 · Filesize: 36.2kb · Dimensions: 453 x 623 ·
Keywords: House Of Buggin'