Aida Rodriguez at Dayton Funny Bone
By Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin
Photo: Aida Rodriguez will perform July 24-27 at Dayton Funny Bone
Aida Rodriguez has known she would be a comedian since she was a child. As a girl growing up in Miami, Fla., she listened to funnymen like Alvarez Guedes and Richard Pryor, often having to sneak in order to avoid her mother’s disapproval. These days find the tireless humorist touring the country and making memorable television, most recently on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” Amidst the juggle of home and professional life, Rodriguez took the time to speak with Dayton City Paper about being a single mom, the shared human experience and her upcoming projects.
You have two children?
I do. I have a boy and a girl. My daughter is 18, and my son is 22. We grew up together. – Aida Rodriguez
I imagine that could be a source of stress, having a teenager.
The thing is, I’ve done a pretty good job. They turned out to be pretty good kids. I was a very young mom. I kind of did things out of order, and so my whole mission was to make sure I would not end up the stereotype teen mom that continues the cycle. I have to say, my children are two impeccable human beings. My son graduates from college on Friday. It’s been quite the journey. They’re both just really good kids. I’m so thankful for that. They help me get on the right path in life, and it’s just been a blessing. – AR
That’s very inspiring. And they’re lucky to have you as a mom! Do they go to your shows? Do they travel with you?
They do, actually. There was a time when I didn’t go on the road a lot because I wanted to be home, physically, for them during those teenage years because, from my experience, I know a great determining factor of where you’re going is your peer group. So, I wanted to be very involved, and I didn’t want to be gone all the time because of where they were in their lives. And being a single mom, they didn’t have their dad, so I would put them on the road with me, they would come to the shows with me. My daughter sits down and writes jokes with me about herself. She’s not offended or wounded by any of the jokes. She’s actually been a contributor. She’s like, “You should tell the story about track.” Because, you know, she’s not ashamed of it at all. She’s like, “I hate running. Running out there in that heat? That’s kind of stupid.” [laughs] They’ve been very involved. Both of them have been involved in the jokes. – AR
What a great source for constant new material!
Absolutely! [laughs] – AR
Often in your comedy you take these everyday things people could whine or complain about, and you make them funny instead. There’s this instant connection to something I’m familiar with, and I love that.
Thank you. I never set out to do the Latin-women-comedy thing. I think comedy is supposed to be inclusive, it’s not to exclude people. Comedians who are of a specific minority group, we like to celebrate our culture and we like to talk about that stuff, but then we forget there’s a whole group of people in the audience who don’t know what we’re talking about. And I’m not ashamed of who I am; I’m very proud of my culture and my heritage, but I want to bring people in. I think the genius comic is the one that stands in a room, filled with 300 to 500 people or 10,000 people that come from different places and can make them all laugh at one thing, one line. And so, for me, I think the human experience, it can be tragic and it can be funny. So, my goal in life is to bring as many people together as I possibly can. Now, I will tell you I have a certain bias when it comes to women because I think there’s a great disservice that’s done to us in comedy because the representatives we have sometimes only tend to think about the lower third, whereas there are so many experiences that have to do with being a woman that a man could relate to that have nothing to do with our menstrual cycles and have nothing to do with fellatio, nothing to do with sexual experiences that make us multi-dimensional human beings and creatures, which is what includes men and makes them want to laugh at us. I just want to make sure I go out there and I’m actually talking about something, and I’m not going out there and making the people I represent look bad. – AR
So you’re more of a humanist, as opposed to a feminist.
Absolutely! Thank you for saying that. [laughs] But it’s just the truth. I see where you get in those extreme groups that get a little kooky. I just think it’s important to include people, so I’m not afraid to go to Dayton, Ohio. I’m not afraid to go to Wyoming because I’m talking about things all people can relate to, so it makes me feel welcome. – AR
Where can people who can’t make it to a show see your comedy?
I’m actually going to be working on a project with Mike Epps. I’m working with Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlings, and that’s Dave Chappelle alumni, so I’m so excited to be in their company. I’ve been doing the Shaq All-Star Comedy Tour, and I believe I’m the only Latin person that has ever been added to that. Last Comic Standing has been so awesome for me. I’ve just had so many great things happen as a result of it. Really, what we’re working on right now is the perfect late-night set so I can take to work the late-night shows. This week is pretty stand-up driven for me because I’m working on my album. I’m going to record my album this year. – AR
When do you rest?!
Rest is a luxury at this point. But it’s better than being not busy! – AR
Aida Rodriguez will perform July 24-27 at Dayton Funny Bone, 88 Plum St., Suite 200, at The Greene in Beavercreek. Tickets range from $12 to $47 and can be purchased at funnybone.com. For more about Aida Rodriguez, please visit funnyaida.com.