Comedians talk about the road to comedy and racial issues in "Loud Mouth Success Stories"

Three veteran comedians had a personal and funny conversation with students and faculty

On the surface, comedy may be about the laughs, but for many comedians diversity and representation are largely crucial aspects to the industry.

ASU students interested in comedy had the opportunity to learn more from industry professionals when high-profile comedians visited the Tempe campus last week.

The artists gathered during the "Loud Mouth Success Stories" performance, where they spoke about their experience touring and developing comedy. 

Comedians Erik RiveraMarcella Arugello and Nick Guerra visited ASU on Friday to discuss their comedic careers during a panel before a show hosted by comedians Cheech Marin and Paul Rodriguez. They spoke about the placement of race in their careers, and how they would to like to see more representation in comedy.

Nick Guerra is a recent success from his features with Gabriel Iglesias, NBC and his recent appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." He has been a working comedian for about 12 years. ASU is is not the only college he performed at, he has visited more than 65 colleges in the span of about four years.

“I’m going to be a little silly fireball that’s going to say some crazy things and none of its personal,” Guerra said, noting his attitude on the stage.

Erik Rivera has been in the business for about 15 years. He has appeared on MTV, Comedy Central, TV Guide and numerous comedy clubs. He majored in communications in New York City when he became fascinated by comedy shows. Rivera has toured over 100 colleges so far.  

“One night I just fell in love with it so I was like, I think I want to try this,” Rivera said. “I got up on stage and never looked back.”

Marcella Arugello also did not pursue comedy from the beginning. Arguello discovered her love for comedy by laughing at her students as a teacher and a friend suggestion. She has since been featured on Comedy Central, NBC’s Last Call with Carson Daly and many improv comedy clubs.

“Comedy was the only thing that I very much enjoyed my entire life,” Arguello said.

The panel also discussed the racial profiling that comes with being a comedian with a minority background and the lack of representation in the Latino community. Guerra said Cheech Marin and Paul Rodriguez opened the doors for many other Latino comics.

“As a guy from South Texas, I had no clue there was other Latino comedians,” Guerra said.

Erik Rivera added he wants the audience to relate to him without mentioning race because it creates a wall that people can't connect to. However, Arguello commented that newer generations are more accepting.

“Comedy fans that are teenagers are into everything and into everyone," Arguello said.

Katie Male, communications freshman, said she is interested in comedy as a profession. Male said the panel was a great opportunity to understand the aspects of the job and the subject of race in the entertainment industry. 

Improv is the art, stand-up is the science, Guerra said.


Reach the reporter at kbenalli@asu.edu or follow @kallebenallie on Twitter

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