Comedian Paul Rodriguez brought his standup comedy show to the Chumash Casino and didn’t disappoint the predominantly Latino crowd. About his drive up from Los Angeles, Rodriguez remarked on how “everything is so clean in Santa Barbara, even the cows look like they just took a shower. Not a piece of trash anywhere along the highway, but the only Latinos I saw was guys in orange vests.”

A pioneer of self-deprecating Latino humor, Rodriguez was the first Mexican-American comedian to host his own TV show, a program in the 1980s called “AKA Pablo.” Billed as the “new Freddie Prinze,” he actually modeled his act after African Americans such as Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor. The show bombed, and it could have been the end of his career, but Rodriguez, who was born in Sinaloa, Mexico, and raised in Compton, L.A., persevered. “In Compton we’d never seen so many blacks in our lives,” he said, and it wasn’t until one of his sisters started getting romantically involved with a black friend of his that his father decided to move to a “better neighborhood like : San Pedro.”

He recalls taking burritos made of chorizo y huevo to school wrapped in a “plastic Wonder Bread bag and the white kids with their peanut-and-marmalade sandwiches would make fun of me.” After they tasted the burritos, they “wanted to trade lunches and soon they were hooked on Mexican food.” He said he was the “Mexican food pusher man.” Rodriguez also made fun of Taco Bell commercials, claiming that, when they said “make a run for the border” people in Mexico started thinking, “Hmmmm, they must like us up there, so let’s make a run and cross over!”

Speaking of the current election, in which Hillary Clinton carried California and Texas thanks to the Latino vote, Rodriguez said, “We’re the pretty girl at the bar now : and we’re going, ‘Oh yeah? Where are the diamonds?’ Politicians are so desperate now, I might lasso an ambassadorship.”

The subtle message of this show is what Rodriguez hears coming from Anglo America, and what he makes fun of: “You know, we like your women, your food, your music, your beer, but why don’t you guys just stay on your own side of the border?”


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