It’s always been my thought that the skill set required by stand-up comedy is vastly underrated…public speaking alone is one of the most common “nightmare level” fears, now imagine trying to be funny while doing it. I have an immense respect for anyone who even attempts the endeavor, and that’s why I sat down with bilingual comedian and proud native Martín León in advance of his performances at Ella Bar (Lázaro Cárdenas 315, Zona Romántica).
Gotta say, doing comedy in not one but two languages is incredibly ambitious, what made you choose it as a career path?
ML: That is a very good question. So, originally I thought stand up only existed in English. I wanted to do it but living in Mexico City I had no idea where so I started writing something thinking maybe I could ask a hostel or something to let me try my stuff there. Then I met Juan Carlos Escalante who was one of the first stand up comedians in Mexico and he introduced me to Cafe 22 where I started doing stand up in Spanish.
Right now I like doing stand up in both English and Spanish because each language is different in how humor works. There are jokes that only work in one of them and others that work in both and I feel navigating those help me strengthen my comedy in both languages.
Makes sense, I can dig it. when did you know for a fact this was your path in life?
ML: Literally the moment I got on stage and got my first laugh. It was like finding a place where I 100% belonged. A lot of new comedians talk about how nervous they were their first time and I was but it all melted away with that first reaction….since then it has been about how to do it more and how to do it better.
Always love to hear about people finding their calling, it’s inspirational…so if there is one thing you could change about your life, what would it be?
ML: I want to say nothing because I feel it would be super “you’ve won at being an adult” to realize you are who you are because of all the choices you made–even the “wrong” ones–but I really wish I had kept on drawing when I was younger.
I stopped because I felt I wasn’t good but now that I know so many artists and their path to being where they are, well, that was silly. Really because of that I like to help new comedians.
Totally agree, it’s a rewarding feeling not to do something you hate just to stay alive. Following up, what’s this I’m hearing about a stand-up comedy workshop?
ML: I’m excited about it, Qulture is co-sponsoring the event with Lady Zen and Ella this Sunday the 18th. The workshop is perfect for people who want to try stand up, or maybe have a little experience. We’re gonna go over the basics with some stage tips and also there’s gonna be time to go over some of their own material.
Nice. Last question: what impact do you want to make on Vallarta and/or the larger world around us?
ML: Well, like my friend and kind of mentor Adriana Chávez (first openly out lesbian to do stand up in Mexico!) says: comedy is a key that allows you to open closed minds, and I try to leave any mind I encounter at least a little more open than before.
I love doing stand up, I want to do it as much as possible, and bring laughter to as many people I can along the way…also, a Netflix special.
Fantastic, you have a worthy perspective so I’m expecting a lot out of the show now. Thanks for taking the time!
ML: No prob!