The audio recording of the July HBO special George Lopez: It’s Not Me, It’s You due for release later this month is vintage Lopez. His fans will love it; his critics will complain, “same old, same old.” The thing is, Lopez knows his audience; he knows what they want, and he makes sure to give it to them.
Sure, his routines are variations on themes he’s been playing for years, but isn’t that what most successful comics do? They find out what works, and they milk it until it doesn’t work any longer. If this album is any indication, it’s still working for Lopez, at least as far as his fans are concerned. And the rest? I’m sure he has a few choice words for the rest.
So what you get are a lot of “Latinos are like this and Anglos are like that” jokes. Anglos baby-proof their houses; Latinos point their kids to the electric sockets. Anglos hold interventions for the addicted; Latinos try to sell them drugs. Anglos are too concerned with entertaining their kids; Latinos send them looking for their teeth. Add some material on the relations between Blacks and Latinos. Throw in a little politics—Romney’s Mexican heritage, a visit to the Obama White House, and an obscenity-laced shout-out to Arizona’s Joe Arpaio—and you’ve pretty much got his act.
This is his third special for HBO. His two previous albums for Comedy Central, America’s Mexican and Tall, Dark and Chicano, were both nominated for Gammy Awards. He must be doing something right. His edgy humor is aimed at stereotypes, the way people of all ethnicities deal with each other based on preconceptions of the other: Anglo stereotypes of Latinos, Latino stereotypes of Blacks. Too often for some, his observations will hit too close to home, and they will see him as mean-spirited and divisive. Those who get him, will recognize that he is in fact describing real-world experience, and take it to heart even as they laugh at themselves.
Then of course there is the language: two things – obscenity and Spanish. As far as the first is concerned, I don’t know that Lopez’s language is any more offensive than most of the other comics working today. We have long passed the day when mainstream audiences are turned off by “foul” language. Nonetheless, anyone unfamiliar with Lopez’s standup persona and concerned about such language should be forewarned. The Spanish phrases he tosses around during his set, and he does toss around quite a few, are perhaps a bit more disconcerting for Spanish illiterates. I must confess my own annoyance when I don’t quite understand what he’s saying. It seems even more annoying when the rest of the audience is hysterical.