Interview with Cristela Alonzo

Cristela Alonzo on Latina Equal Pay DAy. Photo from her Facebook Page Cristela Alonzo on Latina Equal Pay DAy. Photo from her Facebook Page

Cristela Alonzo is from Texas. Let that sink in, and ask how can being a Mexican American in Texas lead to humour? Well she is deeply involved with the organizations which work with low income immigrants, and is active on the border issue.

AND… she is very funny!!! This is a woman who was a theatre nerd. “I was told that I could only ever audition for West Side Story or Chorus Line,” she says. She did perform in both but fortunately did not let that limit her. She had to quit college to be her mother’s caregiver, and when her mother died, she started doing stand up to deal with her grief. Well… it was GOOD GRIEF!!!  “Somehow talking about the grief and using humour made it possible to connect with audiences and so began my successful career.”

But first she had to learn that comedy was in fact a career option.  “Coming from a traditional Mexican-American mixed status family meant that I had to first convince my family that writing and performing, was actually work. If it didn’t make you sweat and build up your muscles it just wasn’t real work and what I did was just goofing around.” As someone for whom the television was her babysitter, she watched stand-up, but it took her a long time to actually understand how it worked as a business. “It came as a bit of a shock that people got paid for writing then about whatever was in their heads.”

“I believe that theatre and stand up have great power to heal and to teach without seeming didactic. You can get people to laugh and empathize without getting preachy and doing stand up was really healing for me.”

Cristela Alonzo will be part of the Ethnic Show at Just for Laughs and I highly recommend that you get your tickets immediately. Tickets and times for the Ethnic Show can be found HERE.

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