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."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Paul Rodriguez on how he came to star on Norman Lear's a.k.a. Pablo
Paul Rodriguez on comedians he watched growing up
Paul Rodriguez on starting to do stand-up at the Comedy Store
Paul Rodriguez on the importance of comedy and laughter
Paul Rodriguez on the drug scene in stand-up comedy in the 1980s, and on dealing with celebrity
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
On how he defines success, and on various then-recent celebrity scandals
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
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
Paul Rodriguez on starring on the series a.k.a. Pablo
Paul Rodriguez on the Mexican-American community's reaction to a.k.a. Pablo, and their objections to his act

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Paul Rodriguez on appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Topics

Advice

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Paul Rodriguez on advice to an aspiring comedian

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Paul Rodriguez on working with and being mentored by Richard Pryor

Diversity in Television

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Paul Rodriquez on the Mexican-American community's reaction to a.k.a. Pablo, and their objections to his act
Paul Rodriguez on the then-current state of his career, and on his relationship with the Mexican-American community
Paul Rodriguez on things he has had the opportunity to do in his career, and on the then-current state of Latinos in comedy
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

Fame and Celebrity

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Paul Rodriguez on the drug scene in stand-up comedy in the 1980s, and on dealing with celebrity
Paul Rodriguez on how he defines success, and on various then-recent celebrity scandals

Historic Events and Social Change

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Paul Rodriguez on the Mexican-American community's reaction to a.k.a. Pablo, and their objections to his act
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
Paul Rodriguez on the then-current state of his career, and on his relationship with the Mexican-American community
Paul Rodriguez on things he has had the opportunity to do in his career, and on the then-current state of Latinos in comedy

Minorities

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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
Paul Rodriguez on things he has had the opportunity to do in his career, and on the then-current state of Latinos in comedy
Paul Rodriguez on the Mexican-American community's reaction to a.k.a. Pablo, and their objections to his act
Paul Rodriguez on the then-current state of his career, and on his relationship with the Mexican-American community

Pivotal Career Moments

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Paul Rodriguez on working with and being mentored by Richard Pryor

Television Industry

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

Comedian

View Profession
Paul Rodriguez on developing his early stand-up routine, and on being Richard Pryor's runner
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
Paul Rodriguez on the importance of comedians taking chances, and on basing his comedy routines around his life
Paul Rodriguez on dealing with agents and managers in his career, and on longevity in his career

Performers

View Profession
Paul Rodriguez on developing his early stand-up routine, and on being Richard Pryor's runner
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
Paul Rodriguez on the importance of comedians taking chances, and on basing his comedy routines around his life
Paul Rodriguez on dealing with agents and managers in his career, and on longevity in his career
Genres

Comedy Series

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Paul Rodriguez on starring on the series a.k.a. Pablo
People

Johnny Carson

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Paul Rodriguez on appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

Norman Lear

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

Richard Pryor

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Paul Rodriguez on working with and being mentored by Richard Pryor

All Interviews

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