Interview Stand Up Comedian Rojo Perez at The New York Comedy Club
1. What other jobs did Comedian Rojo Perezdo before starting stand up comedy? I freelanced for a newspaper out of college, worked as a valet parker, bartender, server, delivery guy, and 3 days as an exterminator. Stopped that because I was paranoid I had bed bugs at every apt we went to and was making myself itchy.
2. How did you know you wanted to be a comedian? I didn’t, I’d write in college, shoot silly videos but had no idea to do with some of the stories. A buddy invited me once to an open mic, went terrible, and that was the drug.
3. If you weren’t doing comedy, what would you be doing? I think I would’ve found a way to be in sports as a journalist or commentator. Or maybe I’d be 10 years into my exterminator career and had at least 3 employees of the month awards.
4. Where are some of your favorite places to perform? I have a few spots I love, club wise I think Comedy on State (Madison), Acme Comedy Co (Minneapolis), Standup Live (Phoenix) are where I’ve had the most fun and they get how to treat comedians. Scene wise New Orleans, Austin, Atlanta. The way the comics run shows in these cities I love.
5. Who are some of your favorite up-and-comers in the comedy world? Oh man, not even sure what an up-and-comer is anymore since everyone who is 4 years in with 5 mins has already been “seen”. But these are some New York comics I genuinely enjoy watching: Lizzy Cassidy, Ariel Elias, Ben Katzner, Gordon Baker-Bone, Xazmin Garza.
6. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? I forget where we were at or why I was included in the conversation, but about 10 years ago Jesse Popp said “When you realize the worst that can happen is silence, everything else slows down”
7. When did you feel like you were a professional comedian? I don’t think I ever had a moment where something happened and I just declared to myself I was a professional. I was lucky that pretty early on a couple of people started taking me on the road so I was doing 6 show weekends while still parking cars or whatever.
8. How often do you perform comedy per week? When in NY, I try to get up at least twice a night but not more than three. I personally feel I’m more worried about getting to the spots rather than focusing on the set when I’ve done more than 3 in a night.
9. What are your favorite NYC comedy clubs that you perform at? I love what New York Comedy Club has become, they do a great job at both locations. I’ve been lucky enough to be on stage at Caroline’s on a sold-out Saturday and it’s a pretty special feeling. Not tradition clubs but The Creek and The Cave has always given me stage time to grow so I will forever love them and Bell House/Union Hall are great venues that do right by the performers.
10. How do you deal with hecklers? I don’t have a formula or stock lines for hecklers. Every time it’s its own thing, variables of how the sets going, are they just repeating punchlines or are they talking to be a dick. Whatever they said, did it make sense? Am I having fun on stage or is this just work? I don’t attack the audience and I try not to be mean spirited, but last week in DC got the audience to chant with me “Hey, hey, hey, goodbye” as a dude got kicked out for heckling.
11. What advice would you give your younger self? Don’t be scared of silence.
12. How would you describe your brand of comedy? Personal, long-form stories with sprinkles of playful/goofy observations. (I’m never good at answering this question)
13. What do you talk about in your act? Right now I’m talking a bit about growing up in Puerto Rico, how we should be more honest with ourselves when looking for love and my favorite play in a baseball game.
14. How did you develop your style of stand up? Who were your influences growing up; both from the world of comedy and elsewhere? I realized pretty early on my forte wasn’t writing “jokes” but I could keep people interested when I talked about my upbringing and that slowly morphed into more story-based.
My comedy taste is all over the place, but growing up John Leguizamo was a huge influence. Chapelle, Rock, Ellen, Raymond Arrieta, Bob Marley(comedian) had one album that I would listen to over.
Non-comedy people was my big brother, Don Mattingly, Zack Morris, John Starks, Residente. My folks were pretty cool too.
15. I love to interview comedians, Can I ask what happens when you are in front of a crowd, and no one laughs? You keep going. I used to find myself trying to speed up to fill that air if a joke didn’t work. Now I may acknowledge it or just move on but at my pacing. If every joke works I feel like I’m not growing.
16. What made you decide to be a comedian? Were you born funny? I’d write in college but didn’t know you could just do it. I thought these people were chosen by the powers that be. A friend invited me to an open mic and it was terrible and I never wanted to anything else again.
I don’t think I was particularly funny growing up. I joked on a teacher in 7 grade and made her cry, so I never tried to be funny again.
17. Is there anything else that you wish to promote? The HBO Latino special (it’s in English) is out on their streaming platforms. It’s called Entre Nos: Spot On, give it a watch.