By Ryan Meehan
Comedians are dissected into groups based on their race, religion, sex, sexual preferences and content. That being said, Thai Rivera is a Hispanic, Catholic, gay man whose irreverent humor is so over the top that the faint of heart would be better off staying at home knitting or doing whatever else it is that narrow minded people do. No topic is taboo for Thai. He will tell you exactly how he feels about the gay rights movement, AIDS, sex – gay and straight, women, men, minorities, waiters and the homeless in such a way that will have you laughing and not believing what you just heard. To Thai, political correctness is like wearing a coat in the summer. It’s unnecessary. If you brought yours, just check it at the door because you won’t need it during his show. You may not want it afterwards either. Thai’s humor and style, while offensive to some (should have knitted, I told you) make him an audience favorite and put him in a class by himself. Thai has been featured on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, the Logo Network’s One Night Stand Up, SiTv’s Latino 101 and recently made his second Comedy Central appearance on Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand Up Revolution. And we are pleased to have him as our guest today in 5 Questions.
FOH: I see that you are both Catholic and homosexual…How did you end up doing standup comedy as opposed to being a priest?
TR: I think the fact that I love making people laugh and am not into little boys kind of made that decision for me. Next question.
FOH: Have you ever been heckled right away as a direct result of your sexual orientation? How do you go about shutting down hecklers in general? Do you think that we’ll ever live to see a day where those people no longer show up at comedy clubs?
TR: I don’t think it’s ever happened just because I’m gay. I think my appearance can be a bit jarring for some people, I’m a lot to take in, so I don’t really mind them laughing or having a little bit of fun as soon as I walk on stage. As far as actual heckling, if they’re rude I shut them down but if they’re just trying to have some fun I’ll usually play along for a minute and get some laughs out of it. I think the rest of the audience respects that and gets to be on your side for it so if they do become a problem, which it very rarely does, it kind of polices itself. Overall I don’t mind hecklers because I think dealing with people, and in the moment situations, is a part of the art form. I mean, if people just wanted to hear me do my material they could buy my CD (Thai Rivera available on iTunes) or maybe watch a clip on YouTube.
FOH: What’s the most uncomfortable experience that you’ve had while travelling across the country doing standup comedy?
TR: That would be kind of hard to say because when you’re doing standup and traveling all the time you deal with everything. From being sick and having to get on stage, or being tired, or being hungry, or the hotel not being ready when you get in, or the booker going to jail, or missing your flight and on and on and on. I guess I don’t really have an answer for this one. Mostly everything is pretty great and at the end of the day I just feel blessed to be able to do standup for a living. Besides, what could be so uncomfortable? We work for between 10 and 60 minutes a night.
FOH: How does your ability to make other laugh help you in other aspects of your life? In other words, is there noticeable advantages that make your day to day life easier because you possess that skill?
TR: I don’t know that it does. I’m not one of the guys that is “on” all the time. I keep it pretty low key in my day. I perform nightly and sometimes several times a night so when I’m not working the last thing I want is the pressure to be the “funny guy”.
FOH: I see that you were on Gabriel Iglesias’ show “Standup Revolution”…What’s it like working with him and had you guys done live shows together before the taping?
TR: Before the taping I had done a 5 minute guest set on one of his shows in Phoenix, which is my hometown. I was there for my birthday and had done 4 shows at another club that weekend but had the Sunday off. My friend Shaun Latham, who has been on the road with him for a while, heard I was in town and asked me to come down and do a guest set. Before the taping that was the only time. Since the taping I’ve done shows with him in DC, Virginia and Tennessee. He’s super nice and so are his fans. Being on the road with him and the other guys is like a family atmosphere so I really enjoyed it. Oh, and the fact that we’re performing in theaters for HUGE audiences doesn’t hurt either.
FOH: What is the one emotion that you want your comedy audience to feel the most when they leave one of your shows?
FOH: What’s next for Thai Rivera in the twelve months to come? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
TR: I’m performing for our troops in Japan during Thanksgiving time, I’m pretty excited about that. I’ll be at the Laugh Factory in Chicago in December and I’ll be performing at the Gibson Amphitheatre in LA, at the end of December for one of Gabriel Igelsias’ tour dates. Other than that I’m sure A LOT of being on the road and hopefully a few more TV spots. I’ve also been asked to be the subject of a documentary but we’ll have to see about that one. I’m a little on the private side so I’m giving it serious consideration.
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