Paul Rodriguez with Emerson College

Comedian


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Paul Rodriguez speaks of his early life, and of using comedy and his ability to make people laugh to get though his childhood. He talks about deciding to pursue a career in stand-up comedy, and of his beginning at the Comedy Store in Westwood where he met and was mentored by Richard Pryor. He recalls his first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where Carson afforded him the rare honor of calling him over to his couch after his routine, and talks about being discovered by Norman Lear while out doing his act. Rodriguez discusses in-depth his Lear-produced sitcom a.k.a. Pablo, which was short-lived due to negative reaction from the Mexican-American community to what they felt was a stereotypical portrayal. He outlines attempting to revive his career after the show’s cancellation, and details dealing with celebrity, and continuing to make a living doing stand-up over 30 years on. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on February 19, 2007 in Hollywood, CA.

"My first time with Carson my goal was to do what Freddie Prinze did. I finished my routine, and I was praying. I heard Johnny say, 'Come here.' I walked over and sat down. I was on the top of the world, man. I was a comedian."

Highlights
Paul Rodriguez on how he came to star on Norman Lear's a.k.a. Pablo
05:07
Paul Rodriguez on comedians he watched growing up
04:03
Paul Rodriguez on starting to do stand-up at the Comedy Store
04:02
Paul Rodriguez on the importance of comedy and laughter
05:41
Paul Rodriguez on the drug scene in stand-up comedy in the 1980s, and on dealing with celebrity
05:22
Paul Rodriguez on being inspired by Richard Pryor to use his Mexican heritage and identity in his act, and on the language he uses in his act
05:32
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and using humor to survive his early years; on learning he had the ability to make people laugh
07:52
On comedians he watched growing up; on being drafted in 1973, and on what he wanted to be; on starting to do stand-up at the Comedy Store
11:52
On developing his early stand-up routine, and on being Richard Pryor's runner; on being inspired by Richard Pryor to use his Mexican heritage and identity in his act, and on the language he uses in his act; on appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
13:56
On how he came to star on Norman Lear's a.k.a. Pablo; on starring on the series a.k.a. Pablo; on the Mexican-American community's reaction to a.k.a. Pablo, and their objections to his act
13:58
On things he had the opportunity to do in his career, and on the then-current state of Latinos in comedy; on the importance of comedy and laughter; on dealing with agents and managers in his career, and on longevity in his career
13:45
On the then-current state of his career, and on his relationship with the Mexican-American community; on the drug scene in stand-up comedy in the 1980s, and on dealing with celebrity; on summing up his career
17:25
On how he defines success, and on various then-recent celebrity scandals
15:01
On the importance of comedians taking chances, and on basing his comedy routines around his life; on his best ever stand-up set; on his best stand-up set
13:28
Shows

A.k.a. Pablo

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Paul Rodriguez on how he came to star on Norman Lear's a.k.a. Pablo
05:07
Paul Rodriguez on starring on the series a.k.a. Pablo
02:12
Paul Rodriguez on the Mexican-American community's reaction to a.k.a. Pablo, and their objections to his act
05:31

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Paul Rodriguez on appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
03:41
Topics

Advice

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Paul Rodriguez on advice to an aspiring comedian
05:42

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Paul Rodriguez on working with and being mentored by Richard Pryor
10:14

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Paul Rodriquez on the Mexican-American community's reaction to a.k.a. Pablo, and their objections to his act
05:31
Paul Rodriguez on the then-current state of his career, and on his relationship with the Mexican-American community
03:12
Paul Rodriguez on things he has had the opportunity to do in his career, and on the then-current state of Latinos in comedy
02:00
Paul Rodriguez on being inspired by Richard Pryor to use his Mexican heritage and identity in his act, and on the language he uses in his act
05:32

Fame and Celebrity

View Topic
Paul Rodriguez on the drug scene in stand-up comedy in the 1980s, and on dealing with celebrity
05:22
Paul Rodriguez on how he defines success, and on various then-recent celebrity scandals
15:01

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Paul Rodriguez on the Mexican-American community's reaction to a.k.a. Pablo, and their objections to his act
05:31
Paul Rodriguez on being inspired by Richard Pryor to use his Mexican heritage and identity in his act, and on the language he uses in his act
05:32
Paul Rodriguez on the then-current state of his career, and on his relationship with the Mexican-American community
03:12
Paul Rodriguez on things he has had the opportunity to do in his career, and on the then-current state of Latinos in comedy
02:00

Minorities

View Topic
Paul Rodriguez on being inspired by Richard Pryor to use his Mexican heritage and identity in his act, and on the language he uses in his act
05:32
Paul Rodriguez on things he has had the opportunity to do in his career, and on the then-current state of Latinos in comedy
02:00
Paul Rodriguez on the Mexican-American community's reaction to a.k.a. Pablo, and their objections to his act
05:31
Paul Rodriguez on the then-current state of his career, and on his relationship with the Mexican-American community
03:12

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Paul Rodriguez on working with and being mentored by Richard Pryor
10:14

Television Industry

View Topic
Paul Rodriguez on advice to an aspiring comedian
05:42
Paul Rodriguez on the drug scene in stand-up comedy in the 1980s, and on dealing with celebrity
05:22
Paul Rodriguez on how he defines success, and on various then-recent celebrity scandals
15:01
Professions

Comedian

View Profession
Paul Rodriguez on developing his early stand-up routine, and on being Richard Pryor's runner
05:02
Paul Rodriguez on being inspired by Richard Pryor to use his Mexican heritage and identity in his act, and on the language he uses in his act
05:32
Paul Rodriguez on the importance of comedians taking chances, and on basing his comedy routines around his life
06:57
Paul Rodriguez on dealing with agents and managers in his career, and on longevity in his career
06:04

Performers

View Profession
Paul Rodriguez on developing his early stand-up routine, and on being Richard Pryor's runner
05:02
Paul Rodriguez on being inspired by Richard Pryor to use his Mexican heritage and identity in his act, and on the language he uses in his act
05:32
Paul Rodriguez on the importance of comedians taking chances, and on basing his comedy routines around his life
06:57
Paul Rodriguez on dealing with agents and managers in his career, and on longevity in his career
06:04
Genres

Comedy Series

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Paul Rodriguez on starring on the series a.k.a. Pablo
13:59
People

Johnny Carson

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Paul Rodriguez on appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
03:41

Norman Lear

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Paul Rodriguez on how he came to star on Norman Lear's a.k.a. Pablo
05:17

Richard Pryor

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Paul Rodriguez on working with and being mentored by Richard Pryor
10:14

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