Talking with Pablo Francisco

Published on September 1st, 2015

It’s never easy to do impressions, but comedian Pablo Francisco is credited with being able to morph into just about anyone, entertaining crowds all over the world for years.

And it all starpabloted with a Muppet.

“I was fifth grade and just getting down Kermit (the Frog) and during the years in elementary and junior high school my brother would owe me money,” Francisco said in a recent telephone interview. “When I asked in my own voice, it didn’t work, so I would go Chris Rock on him. He’d wind up paying me and that was the genesis.”

He would go to comedy clubs to study, asking the successful comedians the ins and outs of the business, turning a fun pastime into a career.

“I started to make it as a hobby and made it a career,” he said. “I did stuff at the Comedy Store in San Diego and it just took off.”

Of course, he was influenced by many of the greats.

“Steve Martin and Richard Pryor were definitely big influences,” he said. “The way Pryor could be a gentleman and filthy at the same time was great. Joe Rogan is excellent when it comes to explaining it and making it sound like something else. Of course, Carlos Mencia was huge. He’s one who would get in my face and tell me to try harder. Dane Cook as well just really made things explode.”

Mencia played a major role in advancing Francisco’s career.

“When I got the first album contract, Carlos came to me and said, ‘What are you going to do?’ He listened to it and told me to call them and cancel the album. He said, ‘That bit with he Mexican girls is the only funny bit,’” Francisco said. “I had to take the fat out of it.”

Francisco pointed out that too many people just didn’t want to be critical and that he valued Mencia’s constructive criticism.

“I needed that,” he said. “There will be comics who go years and years and they do tired material. You wonder why didn’t anyone tell him that that stuff is kind of stock, nothing new.”

For his impressions, there is also the challenge of figuring out who to do.

“Carson, Sinatra, Schwarzenegger and Stallone are still doing great because they are iconic,” he said. “But looking at current pop culture is different. How do you do Kim Kardashian or Mark Walhberg? Liam Neeson is one of my favorites to do, but other comics are doing that and you don’t want to step on their toes.”

Of course, there may be some concern that the older impressions may not connect to the younger crowd.

“Shame on the kids of the younger generation who has YouTube and unlimited access to everything,” he said. “When I was a kid, if you wanted to see a Playboy, you had to go to a friend’s house. The modern generation can just hit a button.”

But that’s also why he feels his generation is going strong.

“They are rehashing everything we have done,” he said. “They are looking for ideas and getting lazy. They don’t get it.”

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