The first time I heard Felipe Esparza was completely by accident. I walked into a room at a small party to talk to a friend of mine when I heard loud laughter and in the background, “pour one out for the homies that couldn’t be here today.” That accent, was unmistakeable to me because he sounded like a male version of my mom. There was no way to confuse the fact that the comedian on the stage in this Netflix show was not only Latino, but just like a member of my family. Instantly, I connected to his comedy, his personality and I searched high and low to find everything he had done, which isn’t as much as it should be.
In 2010, Esperza became a household name by winning “Last Comic Standing” in 2010. Since then, he has one Netflix special under his belt, along with a guest role in NBC’s “Superstore”. Last year, he made headlines when ABC ordered a pilot from him about two Latino brothers, but it didn’t get picked up to series. But, he’s still going to be on TV screens everywhere because on September 30, HBO is premiering his 1 hour comedy special, “Translate This.”
We got a chance to talk with Esperza over the phone about his special, how his comedy translates in the Trump era and more. This interview has been edited and condensed.
On telling his parents he wanted to be a comedian.
My father said to me, “Mijo, I don’t care what you do in life, but if you get a job where you come home and you don’t have to wash your hands, then that’s a good job.” So they’re happy, especially now!
On getting an HBO Comedy Special
It’s like a dream come true! I was so excited when HBO said they wanted my show. I had filmed it, my wife and I paid for everything, if you look at the credits, you’ll see my name under craft services cause I was craft services too! Then HBO saw it and they loved it! They didn’t want to change anything, they wanted my show.
On how his Latino-centric comedy is being received in the Trump era
People love it! I had people come up to me after a show and say that they laughed so hard, and that they loved it because I wasn’t political. I joke about everyone and everything, and it let them escape a little. People like me because I stay who I am.
On inspiring young Latino kids
Man, I was a little kid who watched all those comics on TV: George Carlin, Paul Rodriguez, and I wanted to do that too. It would be cool if some little kid watches my show as thinks, if he can do that, then I can too.
On what he misses when he’s on the road
Real Mexican food! You can’t find that anywhere but L.A. Texas has Mexican food, but it’s Tex-Mex. Here, we have King Taco! That’s what I miss
“Felipe Esparza: Translate This” premieres September 30th on HBO.