'Impossible takes more time'
By KAREN SHADE, 9/19/2007
Jade Estaban Estrada takes his family with him wherever he goes
It seems a rare day to find Jade Estaban Estrada in his hometown of San Antonio. But even there, he can't seem to get a break.
Spending most of the year between Los Angeles and New York City, the comic, actor and singer thinks of Charo.
"I don't know if you know this about me," Estrada said, "but I used to be the choreographer for Charo -- 'Cuchi-Cuchi.' "
He remembers touring with her to various casinos and venues for shows and watching her settle into a new hotel room by setting up photos of her son and husband on the dressing table, a small cross and her make-up all around.
Now that he's spending his time on the road headlining his own shows, "Tortilla Heaven" among them, Estrada does the same to make himself at home wherever he is.
"I like to have a picture of my nephew and a picture of my grandmother and make it as homey as I can. It's very interesting. You kind of just find yourself," said Estrada recently, speaking from the quiet nook of a San Antonio art gallery where he is being photographed for the cover of an acting trade journal.
But family also follows him on stage every time he performs the comedy
"Tortilla Heaven." The play, with the subtitle: "A Story of Life, Love and Making Tortillas the American Way," was written by his sister, Celeste Angela Estrada, and directed by David Miguel Estrada, his brother.
More so, "Tortilla Heaven" features Estrada speaking two languages and performing as seven different characters, most of whom are based on his grandmother.
"She said, 'The difficult can be done immediately, but the impossible just takes a little bit more time.' I say that for situations and for personalities that might clash with my own," Estrada said.
"Believe me, when you fly and live in hotels and eat in restaurants daily, it requires a lot of patience. It's something that I take with me all the time."
Audiences will get to see some of the poignancy of family memories undoubtedly rolled into the comedy of "Tortilla Heaven" when it returns to the Nightingale Theater Thursday night.
The solo performance shows three generations of Mexican-Americans relating to each other across obstacles that range from cultural tradition and assimilation into American life at-large.
He performed the show at the same venue in 2005 and brought another solo show called "Icons: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol. 1" to the theater that same year.
Estrada started in stand-up comedy and has been featured on such shows as Comedy Central's "The Graham Norton Effect," NBC's "Friday Night Lights" and "In the Life" on PBS.
Also an actor and singer, Estrada said it feels as if he's added public speaker to the list. On Monday, Estrada participated in MTV Networks' annual panel discussion of Latino history along with employees of Comedy Central, VH-1 and other affiliated networks. He is the spokesman for MTV's Hispanic Heritage Month programming.
Often called the "first gay Latin star," Estrada said these days he finds himself asked to speak more and more on social issues that affect Hispanic Americans in general.
While world figures may be commenting on the challenges of bi-culturalism, Estrada said none are making the statement the way he does.
"I enjoy putting on a mask to portray many characters to make a point that I believe . . . world leaders try to make everyday, but I think they do it in a less shimmery light," he said. "I'm a comedian; I like to make people laugh, but I don't think I ever lost that need to report the things I see in my society."
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Nightingale Theater, 1416 E. Fourth St.
Tickets are $10 and available by calling 633-8666.