It’s probably been more than four years since Willie Barcena graced our stage. He was probably just too busy. He’s been on the road a lot and that has added quite a few credits since being up here last. With 12 appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” countless specials on Comedy Central and Showtime, scores of Latino television shows and concert dates all over the country, yeah, I can see why being up here would take a back seat. I’m glad he’s returned.
Barcena has always been well grounded, surrounding himself with good friends and not necessarily those in the business. His background has always been very blue collar. He has worked as a security guard, plumber, roofer and even a limo driver. He was always telling jokes to help him and others get through the day. Later on he would help our men and women in uniform laugh when Leno invited Willie to perform with him over in Afghanistan.
Willie wrote and produced a one-man show entitled “Cry Like a Man” that garnered very nice reviews. He has also appeared on many TV shows including “Moesha” and “The Wayans Brothers.” He was chosen to be the host of the popular Si-TV production “Latino Laugh Festival: The Show.” He’s made multiple appearances on tours such as “Que Locos,” “Latino Laugh Festival,” “Montreal’s Just for Laughs” and “Crown Royal Latin All Stars Comedy Explosion.” His most recent Comedy Central special aired late last year. Since he’s got a little time before heading out on the road, we booked him back here.
It’s good to have a local back on our stage, especially since Kat Simmons lives just down the mountain but rarely gets to spend a whole lot of time at home. “The Pride of Gardnerville” made sure she was booked here so she could take advantage of the fine suite she’s been hooked up with this week at Harveys. The funny thing is she’ll maybe use her room for part of the week and hopefully this weekend. In addition to her work as a solo artist, Kat is also a third of the very popular 3 Blonde Moms.
I like to refer to Kat as “the accessible comedian” because she covers a lot of commonalities that folks can easily identify with. That fact is probably why she’s so easy to plug into corporate events. Her style crosses demographics and works clean. He language isn’t foul — another reason why she is so accessible. Kat also has a likability factor as part of her appeal. She’s worked with a lot of very fine comics and other entertainers, including Tim Allen and Kenny Rogers. In addition to being likable, Kat is also a physical comic, utilizing her body to punch up the material and give an audience a real show. People don’t have to wear 3-D glasses to get an in-your-face effect. Not too many comics can pull that off, but Kat does. I’ve said it before, but if Dick Van Dyke and Carol Burnett had a daughter it would be Kat Simmons (channeling Lucille Ball).