Comic Alvarado loves to make people laugh
Stand up comedian Lisa Alvarado has performed shows throughout the country in clubs, theatres and comedy festivals.
She has appeared on NBC’s "Last Comic Standing", Nick at Nite’s "The Search for the Funniest Mom in America 2," SiTv, and "Que Loco Comedy Jam."
Alvarado’s material is based on her life experiences as a single mom and Hispanic female working in a male-dominant business.
She said it’s the best job in the world.
"I love making people laugh," Alvarado said during a phone interview with The Park Record from her home in Los Angeles, Calif. "There is no other job like it.
"It’s unreal to bond with a group of complete strangers and laugh together," she said. "When the set is going great, I’m laughing, too, and talking with them half the time."
Park City audiences will get two opportunities to learn about Alvarado when she performs at the Egyptian Theatre on Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1. She will be joined by fellow comedian Dwight York.
Although she liked watching stand-up, Alvarado began her own career later than most other comedians.
"I really didn’t start until I was in my mid- to late-20s, because I was scared, really," she said. "So, I did improv comedy for six years before doing it myself.
"Improv is still comedy in front of an audience, but you’re not by yourself," Alvarado said. "You perform with a team of people, and if you can’t think of something funny at the moment, someone else takes the light, so you won’t fall under the bus."
After going through a bad relationship and a breakup, Alvarado threw caution to the wind and decided to try stand up.
"I took a stand up class in Chicago and loved it — loved it," she said. "And I’ve been doing this for 14 years."
Her favorite comedian and the one who actually inspired her to start doing comedy was Bill Cosby.
"He is amazing and such a great storyteller who is relatable, funny and clean," Alvarado said. "I first saw him when I was nine years old and fell in love with what he did."
Taking a cue from Cosby, Alvarado taps into her own experiences to make her audience laugh.
Sometimes, she admits, she has a tendency tell too much.
"I definitely think there are times when I get too personal in my jokes, but I think that’s when comedy really gets funny," Alvarado said. "It can be very funny when you divulge information about yourself and people go, ‘I can’t believe she just said that.’
"It doesn’t have to be anything dirty or anything like that, but it can be something you admit that people dare not admit about themselves," she explained. "When that happens, it bridges that distance between you and the stranger who is an audience member."
That’s what differentiates her from other comedians.
"They get to know who I am for real on a deeper level, and I’m not just someone up there telling jokes," she said.
When she first started out, Alvarado, who is a first-generation Peruvian-American didn’t talk too much about being of Latin descent.
"My parents were both born in Lima, and I understand Spanish and speak it OK, but raised in America," she said. "Also, if you look at me, I’m a little ambiguous looking and some people may think that I could be Italian. So, I didn’t really know to lead with the fact that I was Latina."
When Alvarado relocated to L.A., everyone thought she was crazy for not talking about her background.
"They told me that it was a selling point, and since I talked about my life, I should talk about my heritage," she said. "But I really didn’t want to do those typical Latin jokes over and over. I wanted to be unique. That’s why in my act, I still only do about five minutes of material about being Latina."
The rest of her material is about being a single mom, dating and her perspective about life in general.
"I feel that being Latin, Asian or any nationality, we all end up going through the same things," she said.
Alvarado has help when she needs to come up with fodder about being a single mother — her son.
"As a stand-up comedian, you have to travel, and that was a big thing for me, because I’ve had to provide a somewhat normal lifestyle for him," she said. "Now, that he’s older and getting ready to go off to college, I’m touring more."
Her son is also very supportive of her career.
"At the same time, he’s been around it his whole life," Alvarado said. "I used to stick him in the green room when I went on stage because I didn’t have a baby sitter, and he would hang around the other comics, who were like my brothers, and play PlayStation."
Throughout the years, Alvarado’s son has come up with certain rules for his mom when he talks with her.
"Even now, he will tell me about something that happened to him or his friends, but he’ll preface it with, ‘OK Mom, you can’t write this one down,’" Alvarado said with a laugh. "With other stories he’ll say, ‘This will be great for your act.’
"So, as you can see, he’s an active participant in my career," she said. "I base all my stuff in my act off of reality. That’s what makes it funny, but when I quote my son verbatim, I have to make sure he’s cool about it."
Still, there is one area in the business where Alvarado finds her biggest challenge.
"It’s hard being a female comedian in a male-dominated industry," she said. "Over the years, I have developed a good reputation that helps me get booked for some shows, but even now when I look back at all my shows and TV credits and experience I have done, I realize how much hustle I’ve had to do.
"It’s crazy that even today, I’m not given equal credibility as my male counterparts," she said. "It’s sad to me, but once I get on stage, things are OK, because comedians are basically doctors. They heal people through laughter. I mean, to be able to go into a room of complete strangers and give them some time to get away from their problems, illnesses, finances or a strained relationship is the greatest gift you can give someone."
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present stand-up comedians Lisa Alvarado and Dwight York, on Saturday, June 1, at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $19 to $33 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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