by Ryan Meehan
A 20-year comedy veteran, Willie Barcena never shies away from a challenge. Willie’s talent has garnered him 12 appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”, more than any other Latino Comedian in the history of the Tonight Show. Jay even invited Willie to perform for the troops in Afghanistan, and Barcena helped provide much-needed laughter to that part of the world. Willie’s numerous jobs prepared him for his comedy career. His security guard, plumber, roofer, and limo driver gigs gave him a background for his humor about everyday life. After years of stand-up road work Willie is now ready for new challenges. He has written and performed a one-man show entitled “Cry Like a Man.” This highly acclaimed performance demonstrates the struggle of a blue-collar comic in today’s society. In addition to being a comedy road warrior, Willie has appeared on many TV shows including: “Moesha,” “The Wayans Brothers,” and he was chosen to be the host of the popular Si-TV production “Latino Laugh Festival – The Show.” He’s also made multiple appearances on tours such as “Que Locos,” “Latino Laugh Festival,” “Montreal’s Just for Laughs,” and “Crown Royal Latin All Stars Comedy Explosion.” Willie had his own one hour Comedy Central special, which was received with rave reviews. His most recent one hour Showtime special “Gotta Be Honest” received even better reviews, and he’s our guest today in 5 Questions.
RM: What makes “Gotta Be Honest” an accurate representation of where you’re at as an artist right now? If a comedy fan could only walk away from seeing that special with one thought, what would you like that thought to be?
WB: The one thought would be that “this is a funny and poignant take on reality”.
RM: At the beginning of your new Showtime special, you told the story of how you were going to be a cop but you got a DUI celebrating your academy date. Do you think that you would liked being a cop as a career? If you woke up tomorrow and you were a police officer, what would be the biggest adjustment that you’d have to make to your current lifestyle?
WB: I don’t think I’d like it, bro. The biggest change I’d have to make would be not to drink so much on the job. I’d probably get a DUI being a cop.
RM: Of all the comedy clubs and theatres in America, which is your favorite venue to perform at? What is it about that room in particular that makes it so special to you?
WB: Any club that has great people with comedic sensibility is a great club for me. I’ll destroy anywhere at anytime.
RM: You are very active in the podcasting world as of late, with the show that you are currently doing as well as your most recent appearance on episode 148 of Jay Mohr’s show “Mohr Stories”. What draws comedy and comedians towards internet radio other than the fact that’s it’s uncensored?
WB: I get to more deep and personal with people who I like my comedy. I want them to really know who I am and to be a part of my circle. That is why I truly refer to them as friends more than fans. That connection that I have had with them is why I have been able to have a long and meaningful career.
RM: What is it about religion that you think makes good standup material?
WB: The fact that nobody knows if it actually exists yet it dictates so much of how we function. That overwhelming shroud of mystery is what makes it so intriguing. I want to really dissect it.
RM: So there is a pretty personal story about one of your sons watching porn in your special – What is your family’s comfort level when it comes to topics like that?
WB: My mom raised me like that. We were never shy about religion or sex. So, It was always a part of me to be open with my kids since they were born. There is no difference on how I speak about those things at home and on stage.
RM: What’s coming up next for Willie Barcena in the twelve months that follow? Anything big in the works?
WB: I am doing the podcast, “Gotta be Honest” (available on iTunes), with Bryan Dey and Richard Villa. Both guys are great comics that you guys should definitely check out. Also I will be starting to co-headline weekends with Richard Villa and my good friend, Esai Morales (“La Bamba”, “NYPD Blue”, etc.). I will also be shooting my next one hour Special this summer. This special will be my best yet and I know it will take me to the next level. I am not yet at privilege to discuss what channel this will debut on but it will be very exciting.
Willie’s official website: http://www.williebarcena.com
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