The actor-writer Joe Hernández-Kolski pivots on the hyphen in his name, and on other internal divisions, as exuberantly as a break-dancer in his multimedia solo show, "You Wanna Piece of Me?," part of the New York International Fringe Festival.
Racial identity and musical taste are the primary signifiers, as the 30-something author traces his growth from a heavy-metal "headbanger in a black school" in Chicago to a hip-hop-obsessed Afro-American studies major at Princeton. Along the way, his proud Mexican mother decided that his professional name as a child actor would include her surname, only adding to his multicultural confusion.
He later wrestles with whiteness in a funny riff that begins with ambivalence about Justin Timberlake and ends with a subtle wardrobe malfunction. In another typical reversal, Mr. Hernández-Kolski extols the fair sex and declares himself a feminist, then immediately portrays a heckler who pegs the sensitive-guy act as a ploy to seduce women.
The show - a sampler-style memoir energetically rendered - shades into seriousness when a young acquaintance commits a coldblooded murder. But gloom and doubt are set aright with a series of preachy affirmations.
Forays into the bastard genre of hip-hop poetry - poorly rhymed doggerel that gives both hip-hop and poetry a bad name - are mitigated by an open-mike parody, topped by the groaner "You are my chai latte!" The whole show is like this: teetering on the edge of earnest excess, then turning the charm back on. The director, Benjamin Byron Davis, keeps the focus tight. DJ Jedi, onstage throughout, provides both LP-scratching arias and laconic straight-man commentary. The show's steady counterpoint only sharpens its point. As Mr. Hernández-Kolski puts it, "My name is not what you call me but what I answer to."