Comedian Paul Rodriguez on Working With Cheech Marin and His Pro Skateboarding Son

Paul posing with his two puppies, Mooska and Chica
Paul posing with his two puppies, Mooska and Chica
Courtesy of Paul Rodriguez

It can be an interesting test to ask someone how they know Paul Rodriguez. The Mexican stand-up comedian or the 4-time X Game winning skateboarder? Not everyone knows about the father and son duo, though that may change soon. Talent runs in the family but Paul Sr. won't be overshadowed so easily. He is more ambitious than ever, touring, filming, and preparing a pet project starring himself, his son, and Cheech Marin. He'll be headlining in Miami this weekend and spoke with New Times about his longtime life in comedy.

New Times: Thanks for talking with us. We're excited to have you down in Miami. It seems like a good fit.
Paul Rodriquez: It's been too long, I used to go down there quite often. Well, I was... entrapped by a Cuban woman. [laughs] I had more reasons to go. It's beautiful.

Do you find audiences are more respective [in Miami] being so Latino?
Yeah, Miami is more cosmopolitan. That is to say, it has a larger variety of Hispanics and they definitely have a different point of view, they're more conservative. They don't agree on a lot of issues with the rest of the Latino nation. But it's fine. My stuff has never been political, really. The older I get, the more I find comedy in minutia, the things we have in common, more family oriented stuff.

Although you're not political onstage, you've been vocal offstage about current events and Latino issues.
That was a mistake, I think, in hindsight because you do pay a price, you know? You pay a price of the people that disagree with you on something will just discard you all together. I think if I had to do it all over again I'd just stick to the really noncontroversial stuff. Not that you should give up on your beliefs but I don't think the stage is the place. If somebody paid to see you it's not about you, it's about you entertaining them. And I think a lot of comedians lose that, and I certainly did. You learn that your job is to entertain people, not pee on all their sacred cows. I think I paid that price but I still give a good show.

Speaking of, I've heard your doing a mix of written material and improvisation these days. Tell us about that.
You could tell a joke onstage tonight and in a few hours it can be everywhere. A joke doesn't have the shelf life that a song does. The more you hear a band's song the more you like it, with comedy once you know the punchline it's not going to happen again. I try to do a lot of onstage ad-libbing. It's the only way you can keep it fresh. I just walk in and say “I hope you like it 'cause I ain't got nothin' different.” Before I go on I'm always all nerves. Over the years I've calmed down a bit but it's always like parachuting, man. Once you take that first step everything else will be all right.

What projects have you been working on?
I've been touring with my 50 Shades of Brown tour. The point of view is how brown is a lesser color, no good things are brown... but what I've really been working on is a television pilot with Cheech Marin, and my real life son [professional skateboarder] Paul Rodriguez. I'm pretty positive about this thing. We filmed a sizzle real and it's really resonating. We all live together and every episode will be a session of therapy. Hopefully it will be picked up. We were very close to having a deal at ABC but they wanted exclusivity with my kid and he has to be gone most of the summer to do the X Games in Europe. But it just shows that it is going to be bought, I believe it will see the airwaves this coming year. Hopefully, and if not my accountant and I are going to move to Panama and open a cigar shop.

Paul performing.
Paul performing.
Courtesy of Paul Rodriguez

I didn't realize your son was in entertainment as well as skateboarding.
He's a far better actor than he is a skateboarder. [laughs] Ironically, it's really weird because he's too old to be a skateboarder, he's close to retiring. And I'm saying “You're 30! You're about to retire?” He says “That's it, I'm an old guy.” Apparently you have to be in your teens to skateboard. But he's been very smart, saved his money unlike his Dad. I'm proud to say that I don't have any problems living off him if I have to. That's what kids are for. That's why my parents had me. Latinos have kids because that's our 401K program.

Do you feel there's a Google battle between you two? Some searches had you first, some had him.
Let me tell you something - if it's a battle, it's a battle I lost. There's about 14 pages of him and maybe a small mention of me. I've become a footnote in his history. But you know, if somebody is going to replace you it might as well be your kid. I was very fortunate to have a kid that has a lot of forgiveness, I wasn't the best Dad. When he was a child I was in my heyday so I wasn't a hands-on father. But you got to do what you got to do and we're tight now. I've always loved him, especially now that he's successful somehow I love him even more. I was blessed. It must skip a generation.

I saw you were in a horror movie, Gravy. How did you get into horror?
I'll tell you this - if you've seen any of my movies, they're all horrible. They're all horror. I'm proud of a couple of them but I've never taken it too serious. Acting doesn't come natural for me, I have to work at it. But I do movies because, what am I going to say? No? If a director wants to cast me that's a mystery to me but I need to make rent. I sat down, read my lines, and he liked it.

But hopefully different than the acting in your pilot.
It's more comfortable because you can always blame it on the writer. To me comedy is easier, although most people say it's the hardest thing to do. I've always had problems with drama. Why would anybody pay five bucks to sit down and be made sad? Comedy is the only reason I get up in the morning. It's the only emotion that makes sense to me.

Upcoming Events

When I was younger I wanted to change the world, now I'm lucky if I can change my pants.

Paul Rodriguez
Performing at Homefield Comedy Club on December 18 and 19. Visit homefieldcomedyclub.com.

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