From L.A. to Japan and Back to L.A.
Comedian Gilbert Esquivel travels halfway around the world to bring laughs and positive thoughts to our troops and our people
Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Recently, my good friend Comedian Gilbert Esquivel traveled halfway around the world to entertain our American troops at military bases in Japan and on the island of Okinawa.
Published on LatinoLA: July 24, 2012
Having made the same trip almost 40 years ago as a young U.S. Marine, and remembering how fond & grateful I was at being entertained by Americans who traveled across the vast Pacific Ocean to do so in the spirit of the late great Bob Hope, we reached out to Gilbert to ask how he liked the Far East.
"Man! That was a great and different experience!" Gilbert tells LatinoLA. I never realized the experience and far travel our young troops endure serving our country around the world. I've been asked for years to come entertain our guys, and I finally had the time and chance to do so…and I'm so glad I did…they made me feel so welcome."
Traveling with a comedy show that included FRANTZ CASSIUS and DURAN HOWARD, Gilbert traveled to Camp Zama and Misawa, Japan, then to Kadena Air Base on the Japanese Island of Okinawa, where he received standing ovations at all 3 shows.
"I never realized how it affected our troop's morale to be entertained halfway around the World… They were so grateful and friendly...I mean, I know these guys are highly trained, ready to defend our nation's interests, and they looked ready, believe me…but so many of them were young guys maybe 18 or 19 years old and just out of high school… I was so proud of them…so many young Latinos and Blacks…our nation's finest…I felt honored to be there. Another big honor was to meet and greet a group of fighter pilots at a private function. I'll never forget that. They are all such awesome guys to be there for us."
So how did Gilbert and his fellow comedians like Japan? "Well…before they let us out into the towns, they gave us a brief cultural lesson" Gilbert laughs. "For one thing, you can't be too loud and loose in public...it bothers them. Not a good rule when you're traveling in a group of comedians."
"Another thing is the communication. I'm so used to my cell phone and Facebook…not being connected and able to communicate with my wife and family to tell them I'm OK on the other side of the world…really made me feel I was out of the country. I can imagine what these guys and gals feel like being overseas, aboard an aircraft carrier or submarine…and not being able to contact their loved ones and let them know they're ok,"
"But the important thing is that we made them laugh, and we let them know they're appreciated and NOT forgotten. With all the craziness happening in the world right now, I avoided politics and just kept to telling jokes about life back home…they loved it, and I loved doing it for them."
After 6 days traveling and performing, Gilbert came back to L.A. to an engagement at the Greek Theater, opening up for The Jackson's reunion concert to a full house.
"That was fun. There were young, old, and in between… Blacks, Latinos, Caucasians … such a nice way to be welcomed home by a nice big slice of American people, just enjoying a great night of comedy and music!"
Gilbert doesn't stop there, he tells LatinoLA.
"I got some good shows coming up that I want to invite the world to as well," Gilbert says.
"I'm just a little disappointed that EL CHICANO pulled out for a show we have planned this Friday at the Alpine Village in Torrance at the last minute, that includes a great comedy show with TIERRA and THEE MIDNITERS, because their manager, Gerry Gallagher, has decided that EL CHICANO shouldn't play the 'Burrito Circuit' anymore (his exact words!) for Brown audiences…the source of their legacy & longevity in the music world."
Similar to another bad taste incident last month involving EL CHICANO's manager Gerry Gallagher, where he attempted to threaten and intimidate popular L.A. performer & bandleader RAY CARRION by saying that he (representing EL CHICANO as manager) has a trademark to the words and term "BROWN SOUND" and ordered Ray and anybody else to stop using those words without his "permission" … subsequently angering and insulting many music artists across the Country, and fans of EL CHICANO as well.
"That really bothers me," Gilbert says, " I mean, here's a great group that wouldn't have ever gotten to be great without the support and loyalty of Chicano fans over the past 40 years, and now a white guy has decided that the RAZA are nothing but 'burritos', not worthy of being considered a significant audience to play for anymore…and that is truly a sad way for a band to go out…"
But being the professional entertainer that he is, and similar to RAY CARRION, (who played with EL CHICANO for over 25 years as their lead guitarist), Gilbert simply sighed and wished the band members luck in their future…however limited it may be in the hands of Gerry Gallagher…
But he still has some great shows lined up besides this Friday, July 27th, which now includes SLY, SLICK, and WICKED, who easily replaced EL CHICANO as a popular group among BROWN people from Aztlan.
Friday, September 21st, Gilbert will host the LEGENDS COMEDY JAM II at the Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, a great comedy show featuring, (in Gilbert's own words) "some of the funniest comedians on the BURRITO CIRCUIT", followed live music by BRENTON WOOD, and SLY, SLICK & WICKED.
From the Land of 1000 Dances, and across the land that is Aztlan, LatinoLA takes great pride in simply saying: "Thanks for being there, Gilbert…for all of us BROWN folks, and especially for our troops!".
For further info on these and future shows: 310-518-2229
Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is heard daily on World wide Internet radio station www.eastLArevue.com
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