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Puerto Rican American Gothic – Review by Greg Cantrell

Comedian Emmy Rivera uses Puerto Rican American Gothic to tell the story of what happens when a Puerto Rican Jersey girl moves to the mid-western college town of Lawrence, KS. Her performance is intended to show the struggles she faced while working through the struggles of being a “perfect” grandmother despite her long-ago buried party girl past.

Rivera opens her show with a monologue that provides significant backstory about her challenges raising a schizophrenic son, but it lacked any jokes to break-up the seriousness. This reviewer was confused as to whether this was supposed to be stand-up act or a dramatic oral history performance, and wanted to know why she spent so long on an obviously very difficult situation without bringing any comedic elements into this part of her performance.

Ms. Rivera had to refer to note cards a few times and lost her place a couple times during the performance, which was distracting and kept her from creating a comedic rhythm. The overall performance was disjointed and truly funny lines were rare; it seemed to be more therapeutic for the challenges she faced as a mother and grandmother. She has interesting material but perhaps should consider whether she wants to focus on storytelling or standup-comedy.

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