Al Madrigal - Becoming a Latino Comic - Uncensored

Melee 03/22/2016 Views: 3,496

Al Madrigal explains how his failed attempts at trying to act like a Mexican-American comedian actually helped him learn to be himself onstage. (12:33)

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- And this guy stands upright in the middle,

right in the middleof the entire audience,

and stands up and hasthis "Braveheart" moment.

And he goes,"He doesn't speak Spanish!"


[dark electronic music]

[cheers and applause]

- All right, this next guyis a good friend of mine.

I've known himfor about 10, 12 years.

He's absolutely hilarious.

He's on "The Daily Show"as the Latino correspondent.

Please give it upfor Mr. Al Madrigal, everybody!

Let him hear it!

[cheers and applause]

- So, in 2002, I went

to the Montreal Just for LaughsComedy Festival,

which is like the NBA Draftfor young comedians.

There's a new face.

And I was so excited to seethe one other Latino comedian

that was there--his name is Willie Barcena.

He's a great comic.Yeah, I was so excited.

I go, "Hey, Willie!How you doing?

Al Madrigal.How are you?"

And he just walked up,and he goes,

"You don't even sayyour own name right, bro?"

And just--


And just walked away.


as he left, I go, "Oh, yeah,okay, Willie, see you later."

And I had no ideaI was even--

I hadn't gone to that point.

I was up in San Francisco.

I had no idea that I wasa Mexican comedian.

I had no clue.

That's how bad--My Spanish is horrible.

And I go down to L.A.for the very first time,

and I didn't know that L.A.--

You do this nowwith all these shows,

and none of these are made up,

but they takeall the black comics,

and they have Chocolate Sundaesat the Laugh Factory

and Mo Better Mondays

and Chopshtick Wednesdays,if you're an Asian comic, and--

and they go--

All my Persian friendsare on the Axis of Evil show

and so on and so on.

So I go down therewith my friend Becky.

This is my first setin L.A.

And that's your first signright there.

No self-respectingMexican comedian

has a friendnamed Becky, right?

You're never gonna hear,

"Me and my friend Beckygot some pressed juices."

Uh, yeah...

That's not...

So, anyway, we go down,and she has a set

at the historic Melrose Improv,

with the Budd Friedmanand the monocle.

And it's for the HBOAspen Comedy Arts Festival,

another big dealfor young comedians.

And so I watch her check in,

and she getsan HBO Comedy hat,

HBO Comedy T-shirt,and she checks in for her show.

She's on the Thursday night8:30 show

with the rest of my friends.

And then I go to check in,

and they give me a tinof Red Hots,

like a Hot Tamales candies,

in a mini Altoids casethat says "HBO Latino."


And I get that,

and then I go and check infor my show,

and I'm on the Friday nightlate show

called "Refried Fridays."

And it's with Carlos Mencia,Gabriel Iglesias,

hosted by Pablo Francisco,Jeff Garcia,

Freddy Soto,God rest his soul.

And so I look at the Red Hots.

I look at the listone more time,

and I look at Becky,and I call her.

[whispering]I go, "Becky.

"I'm a Mexican comedian.What do I do?"

[normal voice]And right at that moment,

this guy taps meon the shoulder and goes,

"Hola My name is Mateo.I'm from HBO Latino.

Do you mind if I interview youin Spanish?"

And I go,"You can fucking try, bro.

"It's not--it's notgonna work out for you.

And, by the way ¿cómo se dice |'Where's my T-shirt?'

"How do you say that?

"Because everyone elsegot T-shirts,

and I got these Red Hots."


And then the gigsstarted coming in.

You know, I have a young familyin Los Angeles,

and I get these, uh--

At first, when you start doingcomedy in San Francisco,

you do open mics, right?

There's no microphone there.

It's like three homeless peoplepassed out

at this place calledThe Luggage Store that I did.

Then you find out there wasa microphone in Oakland.

So we went overto Jack London Square

and performed in front of all,like, these black gang members.

So I was like just doingmy stuff and somebody goes,

"That's not funny,motherfucker."

And I go, "It's new stuff.I'm working on it, RJ."

And he's just talking.

"Just tryingpremises out, so..."

But then this really big gig--once I moved down to L.A.

And it's funny that it broughtme back to the Bay Area,

but I get this gigin East San Jose, California.

You don't have to be familiarwith the San Francisco Bay Area

to know than anything east,most cities,

usually pretty shitty.


driving there with my wife,

commercial comeson the oldies station,

Tony Sandoval,KISS FM,

for the showI'm actually going to do.

So, "We got a big Latinocomedy jam,

and Al Madrigalis going to be there!"

I'm in my car going, "Whoa.Oh, so that's how you say it.

Okay, got it."

Then I go to the gig,

and it's 2,000 Mexicansin a GI hall...

just packed.

It's like a big cafeteria.

And my wife looks at me,and she goes,

"Dude, you got to getthe fuck out of here!"

'Cause she's supportivelike that.

And I say, "No, honey.Have a little faith in me.

I can handle myself."

is that the guy before me isdoing his entire act in Spanish

and destroying.

Every single timehe hits a big punch line,

little Mexican guyswith gold-plated teeth--

they all have cornon a stick,

so they're fucking puttingtheir corns in the air.

Crema is flying everywhere.

It's like "Cloudywith a Chance of Carnitas."


And I didn't knowthat the Mexican corn

was like the concert lighterfor a Latino Def Jam Show.


So now I got to go up there.

And I ask myself--I go, "Okay, I can do this.

What would Carlos Mencia doin this situation?"

That's one of the rare times

you want to askyourself that question.

And I go, "I know.I'm gonna go up there."

And I do a little cheerleading.

So I go up onstage, and I go,"What's up, East San Jose?

Make some noise!"

And they allmake some noise.

All right,so I'm doing good.

So I say, "Where areall the white people at?

White people make some noise.White people!"


Half of me isthe only white guy there.

So I say, "Where areall the black people at?

Black people make some noise!Black people!"


Where the hell were you guys?Could've fucking used you!

And then I say,"So it's all Latinos!"

[imitates cheering]

2,000 corns just up in the air

at the exact same time.

And I'll never forget, rightwhere you are in the front,

this little guy goes,"East side Latinos."

And I said, "East side Latinos!"Even bigger roar.

Like, I think a bacon-wrappedhot dog went flying.

Then I proceededto do my act

just by saying"fuckers" and "bros" nonstop.

Just "fuckers" and "bro,""fuckers" and "bros,"

and then humpingfor no reason whatsoever.

It didn't makeany fucking sense.

If you're sittingnear a Latino,

look how muchthey love this right now.

They can't get enough.

Does not make sense,but they can't get enough of it.

What's up, fuckers?

I just had a new baby,fuckers.

Fuckers, bro, bro,fuckers, fuckers.

25,000 "fuckers" later,25 minutes,

I'm out of there.

Then I go to the next gig.It's a two-parter.

Next day it'sin Stockton, California,

which is this meth shitholein the middle of nowhere.

Industry has died.

It was like Ground Zerofor the housing crisis, right?

Foreclosure signs everywhere.

People are angryall the time.

I think there's just podswith embryonic MMA fighters.

And when you start to dostand-up, the younger comics--

The older comicspull us to the side,

and they tell us three showsthat you should not do.

I was just told thisby great comics

that sort of were very helpful.

They said,"Don't perform outside.

"Don't performin front of kids.

And don't performduring the day."

This is all three.

Even the kidsare fucking tough in Stockton.

I'm not sure if anyone'sever been intimidated

by a five-year-old, but--

little wife-beaterswalking by,

going, "Fuck you ese."

And you're like, "Ah.

Okay, children, run along."

So I walk into the show,and I walk backstage.

The guy who was doing so wellthe night before--

Remember him?He's now crying.

He's got a tearrunning down his cheek.

And I go, "Ruben, what's wrong?How was your set?"

He goes,"Al, they threatened my life."

What happened was,he went up in Stockton,

and he went onstageand said he was from L.A.

And apparentlyRuben hadn't been watching

his National Geographicgang documentaries,

because that was a no-no.

Big battle going onbetween the north and the south.

Ruben was unaware.

He went up,said he was from Los Angeles,

and guys started sharpeningtheir corn sticks.

They were readyto fucking stab his ass.

He pointed the dudes out.

Now I got to go up there,

and I already determinedon the long car ride out,

"I'm not gonna bethis Latino Def Jam character

that I'm not."

I spent the first halfof my life--

My parents sent meto French school

in San Francisco.

I went toEcole Notre Dame Des Victoires.

All right?

I used to wear a sailor suitto school every single day.

I rode the cable car witha dickey blowing in the wind.

Now I'm gonna bethis Latino Def Jam character?

That's bullshit.I want to be myself.

And that was a horrible idea.

Never be yourself.

Change it up. Fuck it.What do you got to lose?

So I go up onstage,

and I start to do this bitabout how my Spanish is horrible

and how you spot half Mexican--overuse of the wor "poquito."

¿Habla español? Un poquito.

¿Salsa picante? Un poquito.

¿Maricón? Un poquito.

And this guy stands upright in the middle,

right in the middleof the entire audience,

and stands up and hasthis "Braveheart" moment.

And he goes,"He doesn't speak Spanish!"


And then startsviolently flipping me off.

Not just like,"Hey, fuck you."

But the holding it, shaking,going...


So he starts leading peoplein boos against me.

He's going,"He doesn't speak Spanish.

"Boo! Boo!

"He doesn't speak Spanish.

Boo! Boo!"

20 people are booing,80 people are booing,

and finally I broke down,which I tend to do.

I said, "Look, you guys,

"this isn't exactlya dream gig for me either.

"I'm stuck in Stocktonof all God forsaken places,

"and the best part about itis I get to leave,

"and you people are stuck here

"for the rest of yourmiserable fucking lives.

"Now, I'm taking the money,and I'm being paid handsomely.

"I'm gonna go blow itin Tracy Outlet Mall.

So fuck off!"

And the guy stoodback up and goes,

"He's got money!"

Then I ended up jumping a fencelike a salmon,

while the black security guardslaughed at me.

That's how thatfucking turned out.

All right, thank youvery much, everybody.