25 Steps to Getting on Comedy Central

Tonight is the night. My performance on Gabriel Iglesias’s Stand Up Revolution will finally be aired on Comedy Central. Ever since announcing the news I’ve been asked two questions. “Did you really get to meet Gabriel?” Usually asked by non-comedians. I only point this out because the next question is usually asked by comedians. “How did you get on the show?” The only real answer for this is I said yes to almost every stand up opportunity offered my way. But if you need more detail, here are my 25 steps to getting on Comedy Central.

1. I went up onstage for the first time in Dallas on April 20, 2005. A local comic, Shaun Arredondo, asked if he could offer me advice. I said yes. He told me to talk less. That night, I learned not to be offended by another comedian’s advice. I understood that stand up was a process. I began to go to any open mic I could.

2. I met Dustin Ybarra on a road gig with Flo Hernandez. Dustin asked me if I could freestyle. I said yes. After hours of laughable rapping, we formed a friendship that has continued to grow stronger as we get older. Through him, I became friends with Anthony Perez.

3. In 2006, I got offered my first real comedy club weekend at Club Image in Temple, TX. Hosting for little pay. I took the gig and met James Ponce.

4. I did a guest spot for Rick Gutierrez at Hyena’s Comedy Club in Arlington. I don’t remember if he offered or if I asked but Rick ended up giving Dustin, Anthony and I a late night comedy class that lasted until 4 AM. He slaps my hand every time I try to put them in my pockets while onstage. He shows us his “Tic Tac Toe” writing technique.

5. Also at Hyena’s in Arlington, I went to the open mic night and met Gene Pompa, who came in early for his weekend gig. I asked Gene if I could be Myspace friends with him. He said yes. We comment on each other’s stuff but that’s about it for years.

6. April 2007, Sean Traynor, then manager at the Addison Improv, called me up and offered me a road gig in McAllen, TX. Since the gig was 500 miles from Dallas, most local comics denied the gig. I said yes. It helped that I’m from there. The gig was opening for Steve Trevino.

7. I drove to the McAllen venue, did the gig and Steve offered me to go to the next few gigs with him. He asked me this, “Are you ready to put in hard work into stand up comedy for what could be years?” I said to him but more to myself, “I’ve put in years of hard work into dead end jobs with just as much dedication.”

8. I quit/got fired from my regular job in August 2007. The reason: Steve asked me to open at the Houston Improv for him and Anjelah Johnson. I was the office manager working 5 days a week and didn’t think I could. Steve then said, “Look, I’ve been offering you gigs. I don’t need to. You need the work, not me. I can find someone else.” With that, I asked a co-worker to come in on Friday for me. I planned on leaving early Thursday from Dallas to make the 8 PM show in Houston. At 4 PM, I asked my boss if I could leave early for an unrelated reason and took off to Houston. The next day, Dustin, who also worked there, called me and said my name had been erased off the schedule. With that I began my “professional” career as a stand up comedian. I went on the road with Steve for the next 11 months. It was an experience is all I will say. It ended the same way it started: I quit/got fired.

9. June 2009, Gene Pompa hits me up on Myspace, “Call me”. Luckily I checked it. Gene asks me if I’d be willing to come out to Cali for a one nighter that pays $75. I said, “umm… yeah.” He said, “Great, I have a project I want to talk to you about. I’ll see if I can get you another gig for an extra $50 while you are out here. You can stay on my couch.” I get a buddy pass, fly out to Cali, do the gigs and Gene offers me a spot on a special he is filming called “Latino Knights of Laughter”. The other comics will be Cristela Alonzo, Thai Rivera and Felipe Esparza. It’s filming in August 2009.

10. This step I didn’t even realize was a factor until after filming the show. I hang out with Gene for two weeks and he takes me around the LA clubs. He introduces me to everyone as his lost son. Among the many people, he introduces me to Mr. F (I don’t want to put his name yet because I don’t want him inundated by e-mails). Mr. F was just a comic booking a night at the Improv. Gene invites everyone to the taping in August. We end almost every night at 6 AM eating donuts and talking comedy.

11. We filmed the special. It was great! It looked awesome. What I didn’t know was the amount of LA comics that came out to “watch” the filming. Some were there for support and some were there to judge. One of the guys there for support was Alfred Robles. Since I was still mainly a Dallas comic at the time, the only person who had seen my stand up prior to the taping was Gene. Even Gene’s wife never saw me onstage and I was sleeping on her couch for weeks. As great as the experience was, the special never airs. At least I got a copy of it on disk.

12. November 2009, I make an unofficial move to Cali. Dustin and Anthony also make the move. I stay in Santa Monica with my cousin, they stay out in Pacoima with Anthony’s family.

13. Looking for stage time, I hang out at as many clubs as I can. The one that showed me the most love was Ha Ha Cafe in North Hollywood although I had to prove my worth. I met Tere, one of the owners, and Agostino, one of the managers. The first time I wanted to go up, Tere asked me, “Are you funny?” I said, “Kind of.” Tere, “Well, I’m going to put you up after my 10’s then we’ll see.” I performed my little legs out and the Ha Ha has become my Cali home club since.

14. March 12, 2011 Alfred Robles sent me one of his skits to watch. He asked me, “You think it’s funny?” I said, “Yes.” Because I did. August 8 – he gave me his number and we became friends.

15. August 13, 2011, Tere called me up for a spot at the Ha Ha. “Gabriel is coming in and I want him to see you.” When I get to the Ha Ha, who do I see… Rick Gutierrez. Rick goes up and does 20 minutes. I do 7 after him and I can see Gabe peeking in from the curtain. He goes up after me and the crowd goes nuts. I haven’t seen Rick in almost 4 years. I remind him of his impromptu comedy class.

16. Sept. 26, 2011. I was confirmed for a showcase at the Comedy Store. My first performance there and I would be auditioning for Comedy Central’s Comics to Watch show at the New York Comedy Festival. I had no idea who thought I was a comic to watch. The e-mails came out of nowhere and being one of the only comics with no manager or agent there, I couldn’t figure out who would even recommend me. I sat in the green room with the other comics and their managers. I thought to myself, “Well, I have no one fighting for me.” I was even bumped one spot because some girl comic just had to leave. At least that’s what her manager told the booker. I could only park my car for 2 hours, the show started late and there was no telling what time I’d be going up. On my turn, I performed my little legs off. I walked to my car and found a parking ticket issued 7 minutes before I got there. I didn’t make the cut. I was not a comic to watch that year.

17. January 2012, James (now my roommate) brought out Jo Koy to watch me at an open mic. There was 7 people in the bar. I performed like it was packed. Jo asked, “You want to go on the road with me? First gig is San Jose Improv.” I said, “yes.”

18. I perform in San Jose with James and Jo. At one of the shows, a group of people come up to me and let me know they book a gig in Monterey, CA. The owner just happened to take the night off to come watch Jo after his crew convinced him too. They loved my stand up and would like to bring me in to headline one day.

19. Alfred starts telling me the audition for Stand Up Revolution is coming up. He lets me know that people are recommending my roomies and me. Dustin is offered an audition and tells his manager to make sure that we also get a chance. Everyone that can vouches for me. I’m told to make a 5 minute tape.

20. The Monterey crew books me to headline Planet Gemini. They love me so much and I somehow end up performing the following two weeks also, one as a feature and the other as a replacement headliner. On the third week, I ask them if I can record my audition tape there. I do. I went through what I thought was 5 minutes in 3. I hated the tape.

21. Luckily for me, I had a professionally shot stand up performance sitting on my desktop. I edit my “Latino Knights of Laughter” set, upload it on a private link and send it in.

22. I got a call at 9 AM one day and for some reason I don’t ignore it. Good thing. I was offered the live audition for the show at the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach.

23. Dustin, Anthony, James and I (now all roommates) work on our sets. We hone them down. We tells each other what jokes should be cut for being weak. All those years of taking criticism paid off.

24. With only one more day to practice, none of us felt comfortable enough with our sets. I called in a favor. I asked Agostino if all of us could break up the 20 minute guest spot during the weekly comedy contest to try out our 5 minute sets. He said yes. We recorded ourselves, went home and did the final cuts.

25. April 24, 2012, the first auditions. James and I were set up for that day. We met up with Alfred and sat an ice cream parlor to talk. As a last minute practice, James and I walk up and down the block performing our sets to each other trying to time it out. As we turn the corner to the club, who do I see… Mr. F! I hadn’t seen him in almost 2 years. He is now working for Comedy Central and will be watching the auditions with his people. He’s really excited for me, wished me luck and heads inside. I’m the 4th comic up and this will be my first time ever at the club. I audition my little legs off and the rest is airing tonight.

June 22, 2012 Filming Stand Up Revolution was one of the biggest highlights of my comedy career. The whole experience lasted 4 days and it was like a celebration of everything I’ve done. Gene Pompa and I shared a room the entire time in order to stay all weekend. Thai Rivera and Cristela Alonzo were also there so it was like “Latino Knights of Laughter” part 2. Dustin came in a day after us and crashed in our room one night. Pablo Francisco, one of the first supporters of Dustin and I, was coming in on Sunday to film. Rick Gutierrez didn’t hit my hands once. Alfred kept us up all night almost every night. We all agreed it was like comedy summer camp. Even though I’m sure he was busy as hell, Gabriel was in great spirits the whole time. He made sure we were all happy and having a great time. I filmed on the first night of taping also my first time performing at the club. After my taping was done, we all hung around and just danced and laughed. Even Mr. F was there. He congratulated me and I told him I was just so thankful it happened. We talked about comedy for a bit and I told him about that mysterious Comedy Central Comics to Watch booking. I said, “I have no clue to this day who recommended me.” It was at that moment he pointed to himself. “Yeah, I always thought you were funny and I told them to give you a shot.”

« « Chik-Fil-What!?! | Comedy Central Made A Meme for Me! » »

14 Responses to 25 Steps to Getting on Comedy Central

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *