Exclusive Interview: Cristela Alonzo (@cristela9) Talks ABC’s ‘Cristela (@CristelaABC),’ Gabriel Iglesias, and Stand-up Comedy.

A bright new star in stand-up comedy is Cristela Alonzo. Her new sitcom on ABC, self-titled, is just one of the highlights in her short career. She also just released a new stand-up album on Comedy Central Records called, “Some of the Hits.” Cristela recently phoned in to talk about her new sitcom, which also co-stars another comedian, Gabriel Iglesias; as well as her start in stand-up comedy.

Season 1 of "Cristela" is currently on ABC. First of all, how did you get involved with the network and, secondly, where did the idea of your lawyer internship come about?

I was actually changing agencies and my new agent saw my stand-up and they thought my stand-up… I have a lot of material about my family… they thought my material would make a show. They asked me if I wanted to give it a try and develop something. I didn’t know if I had a shot or not but I figured, why not, let’s give it a try.

I got a development deal with 20th and we pitched it to the networks, they went through a little bidding war and ABC… to me it seemed like the perfect network because they had ‘Roseanne,’ and they had the ‘George Lopez’ show, and I thought my show was a blend of both of them so I figured I’d give the network a try.

Where did the idea of your lawyer internship come about?

My mom was really into law and lawyers and it was kind of a tribute to her because the show is based on my life. I didn’t want to make a show where I’m the comic, because it’s a really hard career to describe to people because it doesn’t have any steps to becoming a comic; you can kind of figure it out as you go along. With law, what I liked about it is it’s really pretty clear, and it takes a long time. You have to go through undergrad, you have to go to law school, you have to get the bar; there are so many clear stepping stones that you have to do and I thought, law is something that everybody understands. Not everyone gets that stand-up is a job, so I picked law because I thought it was lengthy enough, and maybe show the struggle of a family that might not get it because it takes so long and they don’t understand what the appeal of it is.

Did you ever want to be a lawyer?

Yeah, I did, for a while. I dropped out of college, and I was a Theatre major, and so many Theatre majors end up going into law, so it was interesting to me. I couldn’t even afford three other jobs so for me to become a lawyer was such an impossibility, so this was a way for me to rewrite my life.

For someone like me who isn’t involved in these network pitch sessions, all I can reference is “Seinfeld” where he and George go into NBC and pitch a show about nothing. Is that the process, where if they’re not biting, other proposed storylines get thrown out? Were there other proposed storylines for the series?

For me, when I was trying to come up with a pitch, I wanted to show more of the feel of the show that I was going for, because what I wanted to do was to do a throwback to older shows. We don’t really see any more of the classic family sitcoms where kids could watch with their parents and I was a big TV nerd growing up, so when I was pitching the story they always said, ‘It’s a show about a family, that’s trying to get by, and I’m the person, who is the first of their kind in the family, to do everything that the family never thought was possible, like going to college.’

When I was pitching, I always used examples of how, you know I did a lot of college shows in the middle of nowhere, and I would always talk about how a lot of these colleges I went to didn’t have any Latinos in the little town sometimes but they all got my stand-up because they all related to my family. My co-creator and I would say, ‘OK, what is it? Is it family? Is she single? Does she want to meet a guy? What’s it about?’ And because it’s based on me, I was so sure what the show was about. It’s a single woman who doesn’t want to be in a relationship because she’s so focused on her career, and she helps the other family.

You co-wrote a couple episodes. What I love about the show is it follows the sitcom formula where one character would set up the joke and another would deliver the punchline. How different is it writing for other people than writing for yourself for a stand-up set?

It’s a lot of fun and what I like about it is there are certain things that I think about but I feel like it isn’t in the voice of my stand-up, and sometimes I don’t have any place to do this, so it’s nice to have these characters that I can give those jokes to. Or I can find a home to instead of not doing anything with them. It kind of indulges me in the fact that I have all these different perspectives, different point of views to write to.

It’s funny because there is a character on the show that’s based on a boss I used to have that used to say kind of stereotypical, racist jokes to me. A lot of the jokes that are said are joke ideas that I thought of based on things he used to say to me. And I would never normally say anything like that in my stand-up, but it’s great that I have a character like that on the show that allows me to say them.

During the taping of the show, how much stand-up did you get a chance to do?

We’re in the middle of shooting the first season right now. I still do stand-up on the weekends. For example, we taped last night – we taped the Christmas episode last night, it’s so crazy that we taped it last night – it’s so weird it’s not even Thanksgiving and here we are on the Christmas episode. I actually wrote that episode. The Christmas show was written solely by me, the first episode I wrote by myself. We taped the show last night, tonight I’m doing stand-up, tomorrow I have two shows, Sunday I have two shows… to me, it’s important to keep the stand-up up because that’s my first love. I love the show, but stand-up is the thing that got me here.

Another comedian, Gabriel Iglesias, is on the show as Alberto. I also noted in the credits that Dana Gould is a producer. How is it like working with these two big names in comedy and how did they get involved?

Yeah, it’s crazy because Dana in the writing room is so hilarious. I like him so much, he’s so funny, that to have him in the room you kind of can’t believe you have him in the room. It’s kind of interesting, he comes from… a lot of the rooms that he plays, he’s like the Godfather of all comedy, he’s one of the pioneers of all comedy, and it’s funny to have him in such a traditional multi-cam world. He kind of shows that whatever is funny, it’s funny anywhere. His jokes work.

He’s in the writing room, and on stage we have Gabriel Iglesias. Gabriel and I have known each other for over 12 years. He’s a really good friend of mine, and when we’re on stage, we really try to improv… we really overdo the script so much, and it’s really to the point where we say to ourselves, ‘Maybe we should go back to what was actually written.’ It’s so fun to lose it. I love having comics involved in the show because they get where I’m coming from.

Is there a lot of leeway for improvisation?

I want the actors to know they’re free to play with the words. If they’re not comfortable saying it in the way they want to say it, we’re not going to get the best performance out of them. Sometimes when we have rehearsal, they will say something, or add something, and the moment that we do that, we would write it down and make it part of the script. You can’t say that the writers are the only ones responsible for writing the show. The actors add so much to the characters that it’s only fair that we listen to them and have them have a say in the character development too.

You have a new comedy album, “Some of the Hits,” out on Comedy Central Records. Correct me if I'm wrong, I got this info from Wikipedia, but I read that you started doing stand-up around 2006? So, in less than ten years you've managed to score a comedy record and a hit sitcom on ABC. Does this all seem sudden to you or do you have a more extensive background that I'm not aware of?

I started doing stand-up in 2003. The premise of my TV show was a time when I moved into my sister’s to take care of my mom and her kids. That was actually 2002. It happened, in real life, my mom ended up passing away and I found myself stuck in Dallas. I couldn’t afford therapy so I started doing stand-up to talk about my mom. I thought of a way to kind of let go of everything that I thought about her and losing her, I started in 2003, in 2004, I think, 2005, I moved to Los Angeles, and I started touring, opening up for a comic, and I wrote on Comedy Central. It took off from there. I was maybe a year and a half in when I moved to LA.


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He also is the author of the novels, The Extraordinary Life of Shady Gray, Hello Lesbian!, Hello Fabulous!, and Anonymous. Visit him at www.tanamor.com. Email him at jason@zoiksonline.com.
READ MORE - Exclusive Interview: Cristela Alonzo (@cristela9) Talks ABC’s ‘Cristela (@CristelaABC),’ Gabriel Iglesias, and Stand-up Comedy.


DENGUE FEVER (www.denguefevermusic.com), whose exotic blend of Cambodian rock, Afro grooves, surf, and garage psych confirmed today that they will be headed to Asia for first-ever tour dates in Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo, Japan and a return to Hong Kong.The band leaves today in support of their Korean-only CD/LP career spanning 'best-of' compilation Swallow The Sun on Beatball Records (http://www.beatballrecords.com).  Track listing below:
Tiger Phone Card
Taxi Dancer
Pow Pow
Seeing Hands
One Thousand Tears of a Tarantula
Sleepwalking Through the Mekong
Sober Driver
New Year's Eve
Escape from Dragon House
Lost in Laos
Deepest Lake on the Planet
Tooth and Nail
Earlier this month, Dengue Fever announced the release of a new full-length album The Deepest Lake in the first half of 2015, their first album of new material in close to four years. The Korean-only release, Swallow The Sun finds the band touring with the Seoul-based band Goonam.  Dengue Fever and Goonam toured together earlier this year in the Western United States and recorded an E.P. that will be released in 2015. Asian tour dates for Dengue Fever are as follows:
11/23/14 @ Sangsang Madang, Seoul, Korea (with Goonam)
11/26/14 @ Moon Romantic, Tokyo, Japan (with Goonam)
11/28/14 @ Clockenflap Multimedia Arts and Music Festival, Hong Kong
Dengue Fever has toured extensively in South East Asia and the world throughout the years with stops in Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Laos. However this pop-up tour was necessitated by a wildly popular television show SNL Korea that featured the Dengue Fever track "Integratron" off their 2008 release Venus on Earth on multiple episodes. The song has been used in several sketches parodying the video game Grand Theft Auto and fans began peppering social media asking the band to perform live in Seoul. More here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YPlzY3_Nnw
Dengue Fever will be announcing North American 2015 tour dates shortly.

Be sure to pick up ANONYMOUS, the novel that Publishers Weekly hailed as a "well-crafted piece of experimental, voyeuristic fiction..." and "a winning jumble of the gritty, the raw, and the grotesque" at http://www.tanamor.com/p/anonymous.html.


Following on the success of their debut platinum hit single and U.K. No. 1 "Me And My Broken Heart" and their U.K. Top 10 follow up "Wait On Me" - British sensations Rixton have announced their next single will be "Hotel Ceiling."The track is the third single from the Manchester band's eagerly anticipated full-length debut album Let The Road, which will now be available in the U.S and around the world on March 3rd, 2015 via School Boy/Giant Little Man/Mad Love/Interscope Records.  Those who pre-order Let The Road will receive "Hotel Ceiling" as an instant download.  A video for the track, which is co-written by the band, their producer Benny Blanco (Katy Perry, Maroon 5), and Ed Sheeran will be released in January.  Rixton will perform their new single live on Good Morning America on January 6th on ABC. 


Check out "Hotel Ceiling" HERE.  


Rixton will hit the road with Ariana Grande for her upcoming North American tour, which kicks off February 25th in Independence, MO, and continues through mid-April. The band will also support Ariana on the newly announced European dates commencing on May 15th in Paris, France. Please see below for all North American tour dates. Earlier this year the band wrapped up its summer headlining Broken Heart Tour, playing sold-out shows to fans in major cities across the U.S.


Rixton has also announced a slew of upcoming television and live performances in the U.S. through the end of the year, including select dates on the 2014 iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour. See below for all dates.


The band will perform their song "Appreciated" on the 16th annual A Home For The Holidays entertainment special alongside Jennifer Hudson, Train, Earth Wind & Fire and others. The show, which features uplifting stories about families who have adopted from foster care, will air on December 19th at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. Rixton will also make a special appearance performing in the Rotunda at Mall of America in Bloomington, MN, on Black Friday, November 28th where fans can pre-order their copy of Let The Road

In addition, Rixton has been selected as part of the inaugural class of American Express' newest music program "American Express Unstaged: Artists in Residence," which tells the stories of three chosen artists, who also include Mary Lambert and Betty Who and invites fans to discover, connect with, and support them on their creative journey. American Express will premiere footage from the exclusive live concert featuring Rixton's performance on November 20th on amexunstaged.com/AIR, VEVO and Amex Now, the brand's always-on television channel through select service provider and connected TV application available across Samsung and LG connected TVs, and IP-connected devices including Roku and Amazon Fire TV. The exclusive footage will be available for seven days following the premiere.

Rixton, which is Jake Roche, (vocals/rhythm guitar), Danny Wilkin (bass/keys), Charley Bagnall (lead guitar), and Lewi Morgan (drums) have been enjoying the success of "Wait on Me," which is featured in AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign against texting and driving. The campaign included a social media competition among high schools competing for a chance to win an exclusive Rixton concert. A behind the scenes video of Rixton performing at the winning school can be seen HERE.  


Watch live videos of Rixton performing "Wait On Me" and "Me and My Broken Heart" from the band's show at Los Angeles' El Rey Theater in August.


Rixton on tour with iHeart Radio Jingle Ball

12/05     Los Angeles, CA                Staples Center

12/10     Philadelphia, PA               Wells Fargo Center

12/12     New York, NY    Madison Square Garden

12/14     Boston, MA                        TD Bank Garden

12/15     Washington, DC                Verizon Center

12/21     Miami, FL                             BB&T Center

12/22     Tampa, FL                            Arnalie Arena


Rixton on tour with Ariana Grande:

02/25     Independence, MO        Independence Events Center

02/28     Milwaukee, WI BMO      Harris Bradley Center

03/01     St. Paul, MN                       Xcel Energy Center

03/03     Rosemont, IL                     Allstate Arena

03/07     Detroit, MI                          Joe Louis Arena

03/08     Toronto, ON                       Air Canada Centre

03/10     Pittsburgh, PA                   Petersen Events Center

03/12     Philadelphia, PA               Wells Fargo Center

03/14     Uncasville, CT                    Mohegan Sun Arena

03/15     Worcester, MA                 DCU Center

03/20     New York, NY                    Madison Square Garden

03/21     New York, NY                    Madison Square Garden

03/24     Atlanta, GA                         Philips Arena

03/26     Orlando, FL                         Amway Center

03/28     Miami, FL                             American Airlines Arena

03/31     San Antonio, TX                AT&T Center

04/01     Dallas, TX                             American Airlines Center

04/03     Oklahoma City, OK          Chesapeake Energy Arena

04/06     Phoenix, AZ                        US Airways Center

04/08     Inglewood, CA                  The Forum

04/10     Anaheim, CA                      Honda Center

04/12     San Jose, CA                       SAP Center at San Jose

04/14     Seattle, WA                        KeyArena

04/16     Vancouver, BC                  Rogers Arena

Be sure to pick up ANONYMOUS, the novel that Publishers Weekly hailed as a "well-crafted piece of experimental, voyeuristic fiction..." and "a winning jumble of the gritty, the raw, and the grotesque" at http://www.tanamor.com/p/anonymous.html.