Comedian Paul Rodriguez has made a major success out of himself as a comedian and actor for almost 30 years. It's that longevity that spawned his newest NUVOtv special "For the Record" which tells the tale of his life. On September 18th at 10pm, he'll be talking all about both when he joins Mario Lopez on his series, "One on One." With the show coming up tomorrow night, we got Paul on the horn to see what's been going on since the last time we talked to him and to find out not just about this special, but to see what's up with his ever evolving life, get an update on his comedy camp at Laugh Factory, and to hear about his newest venture in theater.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): So I understand that you worked with Mario in the past.
Paul Rodriguez: Yeah! Actually, the first time I met Mario he was eight years old. He was on a short-lived TV series I was on many years ago called "a.k.a. Pablo" and he played one of my nephews. He was a sharp and talented kid then and I told him many times that if I knew he was going to be a big and talented star, I would have treated him better. He's such a sweet kid and he was asking me things that he already knew the answers to so he kept me on my toes there.
Did you keep in contact the whole time in-between the show and now?
Every once in a while I'd see him here and there but he's really great friends with my son so he's been a constant in my life. Matter of fact, I'm doing a play in San Diego, where he's from, and his family is coming to the show. He's actually one of the few cast members I've stayed connected with because he just refuses to go away. [Laughs.] No, he's just a good friend in real life and I've seen him go from a small kid to an actor, and then to a dad and everything else he is now. But in this NUVOtv interview, I don't know who's asking more questions, me or him.
That's so sweet! I know the play you are doing is the "The Odd Couple" and your character Oscar is a sportswriter so I was wondering, are you into sports?
You know, I'm not. But I know enough about sports to convince people that I am a man! I'm just not one of these guys who live and die by how the local team is doing. I used to like football a lot but I'm from Los Angeles and we don't have a football team. Now I'm more or less a free agent. Whoever wins the Super Bowl is who I was rooting for so I don't have much loyalty for it. Sports for me has a place but I'd rather be out there playing it than watching it. My brother couldn't understand why I gave away some Lakers tickets not so long ago instead of giving them to him. He was saying, "There's no justice in this world! You gave away tickets to an event I would kill for!" I said, well then kill for it! [Laughs.]
I'm not even a fan of the Lakers and I might have to side with your bother on that one! I'm guessing that memorizing lines in a play as opposed to a set is a pretty daunting task.
Oh yeah! It's the most physical thing I've done because you have to remember two and a half hours of dialogue. I've been on TV and stood on a stage with my act but to memorize all of that really fast dialogue, that's quite a feat. Also, you not only have to watch out for yourself but, you have to watch out for the other actors so you don't mess them up. That's the biggest faux pas. I keep having this nightmare that I'm standing there with my eyes wide open like, what's my next line? [Laughs.] Anyway, it was on my bucket list and I'm ready to tackle it.
You still do your comedy camp at Laugh Factory, right?
Yes and the comedy camp has gotten a lot of awards and has been very important in my life. It's been almost thirty years and a lot of our students have gone on to become doctors, airline pilots…only two of our students have gone on to become comedians so I'm not sure how well of a job that we are doing! [Laughs.] It's not really about doing stand-up though, it's about being comfortable in front of an audience. To speak in front of an audience is one of the highest rated things that people are afraid of. We get inner-city kids who are shy, life has kind of cheated them, or have a speech impediment and we sit in class and watch them be funny and become open to the public. Even if they don't become a stand-up comic, they become better people. Very few of them have ever gotten in trouble and if they do, we tell them that they are from the Improv group.
OK, that's fantastic and hilarious. Before I let you go I wanted to ask you, regarding your new special "Just for the Record," what made you want to a recap of your life rather than a straight stand-up special?
Well you know, I'm going to be sixty, life isn't a guarantee, and "For the Record" is just that. It's all about where I came from because my life wasn't all cookies and cream. I don't come from a showbiz family so it wasn't really in the works for me but look, it became all of this. I stumbled into something that I don't even consider a job. That's what it's all about. With the exception of some editing, we did it on a shoestring budget and I'm really proud of it. There's plenty of laughs and joy in it but it also covers the tragedies. When you round it all up and look back at it you go, wow, I've had a great life!
Be sure to tune into Mario Lopez's "One on One" on NUVOtv featuring Paul Rodriguez at 10pm on September 18th. You can also catch Paul in "The Odd Couple" at Horton Plaza's Lyceum Theatre in San Diego Sept. 17-28 by going to www.lyceumevents.org. For more info, go to his website www.PaulRodriguez.com, become a fan on www.Facebook.com/LatinKingofComedy, and follow him on Twitter @ThePaulRod.