Comedic pleasantries are delivered in many ways, shapes, and forms. All with a unique appeal, punchlines are the glue that binds the act an art-form. Throughout comedy’s history we’ve seen and heard them all. However, no one in the likes of Felipe Esparza! The LA native whose journey from the hood to Hollywood seemed bleaker than peace in the Middle East, his passion for stand-up was a solid enough drive to keep him focused and moving.
”If you didn’t go to school and college, you went to sell drugs or become a gang member,” recalls Esparza as he opened up about his raw upbringing in a recent interview. Growing up in the Boyle Heights area of East LA, darkness fell upon him, leading to an obvious lifestyle of uneven footing. Courtesy of friends, casual exposure introduced him to Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, and Paul Rodriguez. From that moment on, the language of humor spoke to him and opened his mind, body, and soul to a possible way out of negative vibes and company.
Since that moment of clarity, Esparza mentions, “I always wanted to be a comedian, but I didn’t know how to pursue it.” After much research and cojones to ignite his funny-fuse, Esparza spent years honing his craft, ultimately leading to networking and a path towards actual employment within his line of new interest. Establishing himself with a raw, rugged and real appeal, his expertise lies within his personal, social observation among Latino culture. From commercials, to TV (NBC’s “Superstore” [recurring role], “The Tonight Show,” “Lopez Tonight,” “Premium Blend,” “The Eric Andre Show,” “Comic View” and Galavisión’s “Que Locos,” and 2010’s winner of “Last Comic Standing”), films, stage, and currently host of his own podcast (“What’s Up, Fool?”), sky’s-the-limit is understatement for this man.
And it doesn’t stop there, boys and girls. With one stand-up special notch on his belt (“They’re Not Gonna Laugh At You”) on Netflix, Esparza’s next stepping stone will be a cherry-popping moment in his career as he will star in his new stand-up, network special when FELIPE ESPARZA: TRANSLATE THIS debuts simultaneously on HBO and HBO Latino Saturday, September 30th at 10p ET/PT. To make matters even cooler, it’ll all go down during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Bigger in many ways, It’s a very personal special for me, because I did this special on my own. I paid for the special myself,” says Esparza. Once HBO found out about my special through my agent, they fell in love, and they wanted to be 100% behind it. It’s organic. We built something out of the nothing.” TRANSLATE THIS is also produced by wife Lesa O’Daniel Esparza and directed by Claude Shires. Written by Felipe Esparza, the special will tackle the ups-and-downs of immigration, translating for his parents, fatherhood and more within the realm of his chaotically comedic world.
TRANSLATE THIS will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and affiliate portals. As anticipated as can be, adding more flair to the upcoming special can be endured as my full interview with Felipe Esparza provides more regarding himself and roads leading to one of the most successful Latinos tangled in Hollywood’s web of comedic lunacy.