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Popular humorist to make surprise visit to ASU

September 10, 2013

Gustavo Arellano to attend Project Humanities lecture

ASU Spanish professor Manuel Hernandez might be a tad nervous next week when he presents his lecture on the work of syndicated columnist Gustavo Arellano. That’s because the Mexican-American humorist, best-selling author and editor of the Orange County Weekly plans on being in the audience.

“When I heard there was going to be a lecture on my work, I did what any good Mexican would do: demanded I be allowed to sneak into the party for free,” Arellano said. “It’s an honor to have my work discussed at ASU, and muy, muy meta.”

Arellano’s surprise visit and Hernandez’s lecture, “The Humorist Gustavo Arellano’s Work and the Human Condition,” kicks off the 2013 fall Project Humanities, a university-wide initiative to promote the importance of humanities within the higher education system and community. This year’s theme, “Humor ... Seriously!” is an examination of how humor plays an important role in our everyday lives, across disciplines, communities, cultures, professions and generations.

Hernandez’s lecture is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 16, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, room 128. Following Hernandez’s presentation, Arellano will speak and sign copies of his three books.

The lecture series, now in its sixth year, is open to the general public and is free.

Arellano’s sharp, tongue-in-cheek humor combined with his historical storytelling abilities has opened up a captivating and intriguing dialogue among millions of Americans. Through his satire, he address issues such as Southwest Mexican and Mexican language, stereotypes, ethnic relations, immigration, cuisine, day labor and religion.

“Most interactions among whites, blacks and Latinos are usually very formal and surface-like but Arellano deconstructs and pulverizes misunderstandings and fears to reveal the fragility and strength of our human condition in forging, while anchored in local culture, an ever-changing national identity,” Hernandez said. “He (Arellano) isn’t afraid to take stereotypes by the horns and mixes it with both humor and history, and does it most effectively.”

Arellano is a lifelong resident of Orange County, Calif. and is the son of two Mexican immigrants, one of whom was illegal. His column “¡Ask a Mexican!” was started as a lark in 2004 and his politically incorrect humor proved so popular the Orange County Weekly made it a regular column. The column today has a weekly circulation of over two million in 39 newspapers across the United States, and won the 2006 and 2008 Association of Alternative Weeklies award for Best Column. He was also the recipient of the Los Angeles Press Club’s 2007 President’s Award and an Impacto Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and was recognized by the California Latino Legislative Caucus with a 2008 Spirit Award for his “exceptional vision, creativity and work ethic.”

He was published in book form by Scribner Press in May 2007, with "¡Ask a Mexican!" followed by best-sellers "Orange County: A Personal History" (2010) and "Taco USU: How Mexican Food Conquered America" (2012). Arellano is also a lecturer with the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at California State University, Fullerton.

For more information on ASU’s Project Humanities, visit