Published on September 1st, 2015

According to comedian Paul Rodriguez, he has to talk about life in his act because it’s funny.

“It’s hard to duplicate my life and experiences, but my audiences get it. I mean I am now a member of AARP. That’s my new gang,” he said during a recent telephone interview.paul

“There are a lot of good Latin comics, but they don’t have my age or experience, and I never have to worry about sounding like someone else,” he said. “They have to sound like me. But I am really proud of those guys.”

Rodriguez grew up in East Los Angeles after his family emigrated from Mexico. He was going to be a teacher and then a lawyer at first, but the comedy bug got him, leading to a hugely successful stand-up career, television shows and movies.

“In the beginning it was hard, but at my age you learn a thing or two and you learn about things that may be different,” he said. “If you are a parent, you worry about kids. Those are the things everyone can relate to. I can talk about cutting coupons. People relate. For one hour they forget their problems, and that’s my goal.”

But he is also extremely proud of the legacy he has left behind in terms of influencing other Latino comics. Up next for Rodriguez is a new TV show, “Three Generations,” featuring himself, Edward James Olmos and his son, professional skateboarder and actor Paul “P-Rod” Rodriguez, that has been shopped around to networks.

On stage, Rodriguez focuses on keeping people laughing, which means keeping their attention.

“Even a teacher or public speaker can make it seem long and boring,” he said. “I wanted to be a school teacher, then thought about being an attorney. My teachers made it fun and challenging and got inside your head. Everyone had that one teacher. As I look back at mine, they made it fun to be in class. Others made you want to skip class.”

It’s about keeping things funny and timely.

“All the famous speakers always used humor at a strategic place,” he said. “We live in a scary, threatening world, and it’s hard for any human to absorb it. You have to break it up and see that things aren’t always about hate and economics. See, I’m a mental doctor.”

And it’s more than getting on stage and telling a few jokes. Rodriguez goes on stage with ideas, but nothing is set in stone. For him, it’s not about memorizing bits.

“There are a lot of comedians who are memorization guys, but I try to stay fluid,” he said. “If someone hollers, you think of a funny return quickly… You make a few jokes and deal with it. You have to be able to read the paper to be informed. It’s worked for me.”

Of course, when you talk about everyday life, there are things that will work and other things that won’t.

“The material has to be appropriate,” he said. “I can’t go out there and do rap jokes to an elderly couple. My audience is going to see someone they like. You have to keep the diet on the main course. You can’t go up there where the people are expecting a country western band and do rap.”

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