BOTTOM LINE: Cuban-American lesbian comic Diana Yanez takes us on a humorous tour of her own "evolution."
I went to Viva La Evolucion! mainly because I have fond memories of Marga Gomez's show, Los Big Names, a few years ago. The two performers have a lot in common: both are Cuban-American (though Gomez is half Puerto Rican), both are gay, and both are funny. Really funny.
Yanez isn't as famous as Gomez (yet) but she does have quite a presence on YouTube. She's also worked with Margaret Cho, Rosie O'Donnell, and her own comedy groups The Gay Mafia and Queer on Their Feet. Make no mistake, her comedy credentials are impeccable.
Viva La Evolucion! is part standup comedy and part confessional performance piece in the vein of Julia Sweeney's (brilliant) God Said Ha! The show has an informal, casual vibe as if you're in a small club, or even Yanez's living room. The set consists of a tropical-looking bar from which Yanez, like much of the audience, occasionally sips a mojito. There's also one kitchen chair upholstered in a flowery plastic that is reminiscent, I imagine, of Yanez's childhood Miami home.
Much of Yanez's material is derived from her Cuban-American upbringing, and she gets a lot of laughs imitating passionate and overly-dramatic Cubans, especially her mother and father. She also wrings both comedy and pathos out of her own painful coming out story. All in all I spent a highly enjoyable 75 minutes visiting another culture and seeing it all through a lens of humor, forgiveness, and love. If that's the closest I ever get to Havana, that's fine with me.
(Viva La Evolucion! plays at the SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street near 6th Avenue, through August 29th. Remaining performances are Saturday 8/21 at 7:45pm, Tuesday 8/24 at 3:45pm, Friday 8/27 at 1:45pm, and Sunday 8/29 at 2:15pm. For more information visit www.vivalaevoluciontheshow.com. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available at FringeNYC.com, by calling 866.468.7619, or in person at FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Avenue. There is NO LATE SEATING for Fringe NYC shows.)