Kiki Melendez – Locos y Contentos
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I had a movie out a year ago, which was crazy because I attempted to distribute my own video. It was an amazing experience! Not too women do it, especially independent film makers. It was very time consuming and I got it all the way to an Oscar Qualifier for “Best Documentary,” even though it was a docu-comedy. I was very, very proud that we were even qualified.
Q) Who are some of your favorite female comics?
A) I was inspired by Joan Rivers as a kid. I think she was the first person I knew that did comedy. I read her book. I remember being in New York and reading her book and just being fascinated by all of her stories. I just always really loved her and admired her. Of course, Whoopi Goldberg, Carroll Burnett and even Margaret Cho – there are so many. I’ve been inspired by so many of them. I love Ellen Degeneres. I’ve always supported and enjoyed everything that she did. I am just a real lover of laughter. I ended up being a comedy producer and not really thinking about it. I started off as a serious actor at Lee Strasberg and never thought I’d be a comedy person. I didn’t search for this genre. I thought I would be a dramatic actress because I am such a drama queen.
Q) Do you see yourself in the vain of those comics or are you trying to set your own path?
A) I see myself more as a person who creates opportunities for other people. I enjoy that the most, helping other people and showcasing their talents. I feel like doing the Spanish language standup in America is a big deal. A lot of people might not realize it right now, but in the future when we see these amazing comics coming from this genre and platform people will realize this had to be done and why. Now that both markets are emerging we are not as separated as we used to be. There is so many opportunities for Latinos now and most of the comics speak fluent English. So, a lot of times people would not have known they existed. I already have seen so many comics getting opportunities in both markets just from being on my show, people who hadn’t been on TV before or didn’t have a platform. I feel that is a very important thing to do and it is why I am so determined to do my best and make it a hit show in this country.
Q) New episodes of “Locos y Contentos” begin April 17th! What can you tell us about what fans can expect to see?
A) We have the most amazing talent like Paul Rodriguez, who is not known to do Spanish standup. Everybody loved him! One of the things Latinos have said to me is what is really good is that we’re bringing back Latinos who have made it in the general market and bringing them back to us. Paul was a big excitement for everyone to see him in action, not necessarily using his native tongue. It was hard for him. He was really scared to do it in Spanish! Then, he wouldn’t get off stage for thirty-five minutes! The audience was so loving. People like Mark Viera (who used to have a deal with George Lopez) was so proud of himself when he got off stage. He said, “I just did Spanish language standup comedy! I never thought I could do it!” Everyone is really having fun with it because it is almost a challenge for them. For me, it was a challenge too because I’ve been doing standup in English. Literally, I had to start to focus on Spanish, which is not my forte.
Q) What is it about Estrella TV that has made it the right platform for the show?
A) Estrella seems to have more of an interest to do American-Latino programming. A lot of the Spanish networks buy their programming from Mexico and Colombia and they don’t really do that much programming in the states. Estrella seems to be more open to that. They are mostly based out of Burbank, California and seem to really want to create some new talent and do more work with Latinos in America. It is an opportunity for networks to see what we can do and what talents we have that have been undiscovered.
Q) What are some of the new segments or old favorites we will be getting to see?
A) When ever I’ve been on TV shows, I’ve been an interviewer or doing standup. With this show, I am the Executive Producer so I get to run the whole show. So, it is a big responsibility! I’m basically becoming a showrunner with the show, which is amazing! It’s an amazing new experience for me and I’m very happy that I am doing it. Also, I get to do sketch comedy and be more of a comedic actor than usual. I’m usually doing hosting or standup. Here I get to act so it is a fun thing for me.
Q) How do you manage to juggle all these hats?
A) I’m pulling my hair out, for one! I’m brain dead. I can’t focus. I have every single problem imagine. Really, it’s overwhelming. What I’m doing is taking one day at a time. I have to focus on the most immediate thing I have to do. I’m not worrying about anything else. Then, I have to shoot more shows and create more sketches. It’s a little bit overwhelming, but very exciting because that’s what you live for. You work hard to be able to have a show on television and be able to open doors for other people. You have to just breathe and I have a lot of help from my friends.
Q) Who do you go to when you need to bounce ideas of someone or to get a show opinion?
A) I love working on the West Coast with writers because West Coast writers are very flexible. With East Coast writers, you can’t even change one word to their scripts! They will have a cow. What I do with my show, I make everybody feel that they are welcome and their ideas are welcome. That’s why our shows are so good. If I write something and someone comes up with a funnier line, I welcome it. Everybody has creative freedom with the show and that makes a big difference when you are working as a team. We have twelve sketch artists and four or five writers (Spanish television budgets). So, a lot of it is on me and I have to sort of be the head writer. Everything has to make sense and I’m blessed with a little magic only comes from God – I kind of sense what people will find funny and entertaining. When I read something and I’m bored after three or four lines, I can tell that it isn’t good. So, it’s really cool because everyone on the show has creative freedoms and their creativity is appreciate, accepted and used. I think that is what really makes the show so much fun, it’s a collaboration of everybody.
Q) Are you doing anything special to celebrate the premiere?
A) I had the biggest party planned because it was the premiere, but I had to cancel it because I’m so busy! I had this huge party planned because it is my birthday and I wanted a big party with everyone invited. Then, I looked at my schedule and saw that I was editing on Wednesday so I couldn’t even go! I was so stressed about that. A lot of people were disappointed.
Q) Is there anything about the show that you want to make sure to share with fans?
A) Everyone always said that this is in the tradition of “Mad TV” and “Saturday Night Live.” Now, Latinos have their own comedy show and it is something that brings our people together. Everyone is represented in the show and it has the best comics in the world. You’ll never see standup like this because there is only one Spanish language standup show! Ha! The funny thing is that even American people love the show. Even if they don’t understand most of it, they love it! I freakout when I see my “gringo” friends and they say, “Oh my gosh! I loved it!” I say, “But you didn’t even understand it!” They say it is the expression of the comic that they can kind of imagine what they are talking about and the reaction of the audience. It’s funny, but I guess if you’re in a room and you feel the energy of the people laughing it kind of makes you laugh – even if you don’t even understand it! Laughter is universal and contagious. I changed the phrase, “You’re going to die laughing.” I said, “I’m not going to say that anymore. I’m going to say, ‘You’re going to live laughing.'” Well, we don’t want anyone to die. We want them to live to watch!