by Ryan Meehan
Rob was born in New Orleans, and was raised by a single mom in Los Angeles. Contrary to popular belief and unfounded assumptions, he is NOT white. He is actually half El Salvadorian and half Brazilian. Rob is bi-lingual which means that Spanish is his first language and English isn’t. He didn’t know a word of English until he got to the second grade and from watching countless hours of Saturday Morning Cartoons with Wile E. Coyote being one of his favorites. Soon after, Rob graduated from Saturday-Morning-Cartoon-Watching to a full-fledged high school student at Notre Dame Private School. Shortly after, he went to San Francisco State University to study film. While taking acting classes in the evening and auditioning during the day, he become a substitute teacher for 2 years and then taught Special Ed for 3 yrs. He grew up watching Saturday Night Live and the stand-up comedy show Comic Strip Live. Although, his favorite comedic actor is Steve Martin, the following comedians have influenced Rob immensely: Brian Regan, Richard Jeni, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and George Lopez. He began his stand-up comedy career in his hometown of Los Angeles and has emerged as a favorite at the Ice House in Pasadena, Laugh Factory both in Los Angeles and in Long Beach, and at the Improv in Los Angeles. He was selected to be part of the 2007 Latino Laugh Festival’s Diamonds in the Rough Show featuring top headliner comics such as Carlos Mencia and Johnny Sanchez. Rob has a very strong stage presence and great comedic timing. He performs all over the Los Angeles and the Orange County area and currently has two national commercials running, so you may have seen him on TV. He recently performed on Stand-up and Deliver on NUVO TV, and if that weren’t enough he’s also our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: How would you best describe what sparked your initial interest in comedy, and what was the first joke you remember telling on stage which really made you want to actually set aside time in your day to write more material?
RD: Comic Strip Live, it aired right before SNL when I was a young lad. I use to watch and repeat the jokes….or at least I tried to repeat them, probably ruined them. I loved watching SNL, I would even watch the reruns with original cast on PBS. Steve Martin was my first comedy hero, I would try to mimic his actions and stories. Since English wasn’t my first language, comedy was one way I would interact with the other students. I loved to make the class laugh, then again just farting would get them going, it was easy. I think the first joke I wrote was about living at home, obviously I was a little too old to still be there. It was such a lame joke and as I kept doing standup, I would hear other comedians doing a living at home joke. It went like, “My roommates kept me up all night, they were having loud crazy sex. I kept hearing, who’s your daddy?!?! I finally had enough and said, hey mom, can you answer dad, I’m trying to sleep here.” Ugh, I almost cringe thinking about it. It’s such a hack joke which is why I stopped doing it. Especially with other Latino comedians doing something similar.
RM: You’ve said that when you started doing comedy you quit a couple of times…What were the feelings you were having towards stand-up as a whole that made you really want to get away from it; and what were the emotions that would eventually draw you back to the art form?
RD: When anyone first starts, it’s really rough. The first couple of years are painful because you have no clue what you’re doing. I still remember the first time I bombed so bad…..sooooooo BAD! I had my notes on stage and I probably had around 3 min worth of material maybe less. The booker liked me so she let go for 15 min which seemed like an eternity. I still remember this old man staring at me with disdain and nodding his head in disapproval. I think a part of my soul died that day. So I quit for 6 months. Then I came back because I missed it, yep, it sounds crazy. It wasn’t all that bad, there were also lots of good shows during that time but bombing hurt me mentally. I kept at it for a while and then I quit again. I was like the Brett Favre of comedy minus the money and popularity. I came back months later and stuck to it.
RM: Judging by your bio, I am assuming that the Laugh Factory in Hollywood is your home club…Would I be correct in that assumption; and what is the most important thing you have learned about the business from the legend that is Jamie Maceda?
RD: Yes, that would be an assumption. I am what you call a paid “regular” which means I get up there every once in a while. I’m very honored to be put into the rotation of comedians that performed there, be on the wall and their website. The laugh factory is like the Yankee stadium of comedy clubs in LA. I also get up at the Ice House in Pasadena, it’s one of my favorite clubs to perform in. I don’t really talk to Jamie Masada, mostly during the holiday season because I help feed the homeless and perform as well. As far as advice, he just said get up as much as you possibly can. Perform where ever you can.
RM: What do the Saints need to do this offseason to get back to the playoffs next year? How long have you been a fan of the team; and how difficult was it to watch the kind of football that was being played in that division towards the end of this past year?
RD: HAHAHA! I like how you really worked hard to get these questions together. I was born in New Orleans and I’ve been a fan since birth. Mostly because they were always the underdog. I also liked the other LA teams but they left us. It was by far the worst division and it was extremely frustrating. They just had to win out and they couldn’t do it!!!! Always next year, just hope the defense shows up.
RM: You recently shot a sports pilot called “Talking Trash” with Greg Wolf who is a sports anchorman on Fox Sports West. How was your approach towards the world of sports on that show different than other shows of a similar format? Who is the biggest trash talker in all of sports and sports talk radio; and if you were in their shoes do you think that you’d talk trash to the same level that they currently do?
RD: Well, it was a pilot we shot for FOX sports, unfortunately it didn’t get picked up. I love sports so it would be a dream job. I was like the Andy Richter of the show and I would chime in every once in a while. We got a little edgy, like we made up some merchandise that was sports related. Like the Ben Rothlisberger rape kit or the Plaxico Burress sweatpants gun holster or Ray Lewis knives…..I thought they were funny, might be offensive to some.
RM: How often do you work off your ethnicity during an average feature-length set? Do you view that as something that is very easy for you to do; or do you find it to be difficult when you consider how many comedians have already done similar material?
RD: If I’m headlining a gig, I definitely do my Latino material. It is easy for me to do because it’s about my life and the stuff I would go through like my uncle being one the original members of 18th street. Like I said earlier, the living at home joke at an older age has been done so many times so I just dropped it. So many Latino comedians do jokes that sound similar and it kinda annoys me. The stuff I write now has mostly to do with me being Latino but looking white, which is something I haven’t seen others do so much. I also try not to do too much Latino material because it isn’t universal. I sometimes hate being pigeon holed as a Latino comedian but it sometimes opens doors for me as well.
RM: Which aspect of the writing process to you tend to struggle with the most and why? Conversely, which aspect of writing jokes would you consider to be your specialty; and why do you think you excel at that particular component of the practice?
RD: I struggle with writing all the time. It is so difficult to sit down and write. I usually get an idea, record it and later on I listen to all the recordings. I then write them down and I try to choose the ones that worked best. Sometimes I also go up with an idea that has a few punch lines and I go into a long rant on stage. This allows me to play with the idea and find the funny on stage. Sometimes it’s best to talk about a topic as much as you can and try to find all the different things about it. For example, I wrote a tattoo joke that was only 10 seconds, now it’s about to at least 3 min but that took a long time to do.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
RD: I’ll be doing plenty of shows, have some road work, auditions and sketches. As far as BIG, I don’t know. I know I’ll have plenty of opportunities in the future and I hope to take advantage of them. Sorry, I’ve never been cocky so I don’t want to make up a bunch of things or say the opportunities and not get them later.
Official Website: http://www.robdarochacomedy.com/
Rob on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robdarocha
Rob on Twitter: https://twitter.com/robdarocha
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