By Ryan Meehan
Aida Rodriguez’s “edgy, raw and in your face” style of comedy has set her apart in a world that celebrates funny over double-standards. Catching the eye of some of the most recognizable names in comedy, she is creating a lane of her own. As a single mom of two, Aida has honed and nurtured her craft all while juggling the daily grind and stresses of family and career. While providing endless material, family remains the heart of the Aida Rodriguez experience. “Suddenly, the pages of my journal became a laughing matter!” Look for Aida this fall on Daytime Television as one of the hosts of “Hot Topics with Judge Joe Brown”, she can also be seen on this season of Nickelodeon’s Mom’s Night Out, Parental Discretion and NuVo TV’s Stand Up and Deliver. She is the host of The Wedding Zinger, a comedy roast special for the NuVo Network, as she is also one of the unique voices on the network’s talking heads style show Latino 101 alongside Edward James Olmos. Aida is Judge Joe Brown’s co-host on his radio series Real Talk and has hosted Manic Minute Meals, a bilingual comedy cooking show for the net. In addition to her comedic chops, she is a dynamic actor, writer and producer. Aida has written and produced four feature films that all have international distribution; The Greatest Song is one of Image Entertainment’s top sellers. Aida is one of the stars of the dramatic award winning web series Illegal. She is one of the leads in the feature film Single Track, which is currently in production. Selected to host the Miss California Latina Pageant, she was the first comedian chosen to host in over 20 years. Aida is a regular on all of Hollywood’s hottest comedy stages and has been on several USO and MWR tours, making her an international performer, following her dream to also be Bob Hope. Comedian/Actor Arsenio Hall says; “Aida has something I never had when starting my stand up career. She has tremendous self-confidence! That combined with being funny should be lethal. Her comedy is a colorful splash in the bland world of affairs” These are just a few of the reasons we’re delighted to have Aida Rodriguez as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: When you describe your comedy, you’ve said that “I don’t tell jokes, I just tell my business!”…Which aspect of what you do on stage plays the most important role in making your own personal business funny?
AR: Authenticity and vulnerability, these truly allow you to connect with people. Everyone is always trying to be so freaking cool and fit in and sometimes when you’re like me, you just don’t fit in. The more real and honest I am about the things that have happened in my life and the way I see things, the more people appreciate me.
RM: How old are your children; and what is their level of awareness when it comes to what they know (or think) you do for a living? How excited do they get when they see you on television; and what’s the best part about being a mother to them?
AR: The best thing about being a mother to them is the discovery that being a good mom is rewarding and possible. They have been a part of every step of the journey, we write jokes together, they go to my shows and they laugh at my jokes (this is important). My daughter is 18 and my son is 22, we grew up together.
RM: You were in a very confusing situation in the semifinal round because in the invitationals Keenen Ivory Wayans had mentioned that you should back off the “distraction”, yet in the semis Amy and Wanda basically encouraged you to “work it”…How did you use those two conflicting pieces of advice to construct the set that allowed you to advance to the finals?
AR: First of all, I took into consideration what I thought about the matter of women being too attractive in their appearance to be funny. I believe I found a comfortable place in the middle ground for myself. I honestly felt that Eddie Murphy’s red leather, skin-tight out fit in “Raw” was distracting, but I know that his funny was undeniable. So I wear what I want, taking into consideration where I am, and I leave it there.
RM: On a scale of one to ten where one is brushing it off and ten is furious, how would rate yourself with regards to how you respond to criticism? What was the most frustrating thing that you read about yourself since your appearance in the invitational round; and why would you think you’d specify that particular complaint?
AR: I would say a seven, I used to be far more sensitive earlier on in my career because my comedy can be so personal. I got over it as my desire to be great was stronger than the feelings of being criticized. I do have a set of simple rules though: First, I consider the source, is it someone that I respect and admire versus someone whose comedy makes me want to throw up in my mouth. Second, I listen and take it in and let it sit, I have a grace period before I allow myself to react. Lastly, I try to assess how the suggestions (for me criticism is not permitted without constructive suggestions) can enhance what I’m doing. And after all of that I determine if it is going to make me better. And I always make sure that I say “thank you”.
I was advised earlier by some of the network people not to spend time on the blogs because they could be very negative and it could affect my performance so I didn’t. But I will admit that I was bothered by a few women that were very hateful towards me on Twitter for being strong, it was most embarrassing when it came from a Latina who stated that I was misrepresenting Latin women. I thought it was interesting that someone would say that to me when I took the chances on the show and wrote the jokes that dealt with cultural identification, sexism, the empowerment of women and the struggle of single mother hood instead of singing, dancing and reinforcing stereotypes about women and people of color. But, I had to let that go and remember my rule number one rule to “consider the source”.
RM: My favorite line from your most recent blog post after advancing had to be where you said that you “grew up not having the most privileged life, but I’ve never used that as an excuse to attack those who had an easier road than I did. Nor will I ever diminish someone else’s pain because it didn’t happen in the ghetto…” Do you channel the energy that may be inappropriately used to attack others and convert it into productivity, or is that energy just not there in the first place because you don’t have any genuine hate in your heart?
AR: I think we all have hate in us, it is part of the balance of life but I don’t operate from it. Not that I’m some super evolved human or anything like that, but I don’t get anything out of it. I get angry, I am very passionate about things and I am very opinionated, but it’s never hate that moves me. I think that we have become such a self-centered society that many can’t believe that there are things happening outside of their own universe. Growing up in the “hood” there was a very common feeling that no one had it like “us”. But that “us” exists everywhere from the projects, to the trailer parks to a penthouse on Park Avenue. You can’t dismiss someone else’s tragedy because it doesn’t look like yours.
RM: Where did you come up with the idea for your web series “Tap Out”? Have you had any of the contestants answer the question where they tapped out after the camera was off; and if so what has been the most bizarre answer so far? Is that a little bit easier to do in LA because almost everybody wants to be on camera?
AR: Actually it was inspired by the very need that people have to be on camera and this reality television phenomenon. It seems like many people are just shameless in their attempt to be recognized and popular and I wanted to see how far some people would go. There was one woman that described the details of her adulteress affair that was too much for even me to listen to.
RM: What’s the most important thing that you’ve learned from working in the entertainment industry over the past few years; and how has the experience of being on Last Comic Standing changed or reinforced that belief?
AR: The most important thing that I have learned from this business is to be in tune and real about your personal purpose. I know that I am not negotiable and that I wish to craft a career that I can be proud of by being true to my art and the people. I know that I want to actually have something to say and speak on behalf of all of the people that are not living a celebrity charmed life. So, I may not have the most Twitter followers or be the next Jennifer Lopez but I am completely ok with that because you can’t quote ass cheeks in the future.
RM: Other than making people laugh and ensuring that they are having a great time, what do you think is the greater purpose that your comedy is meant to serve?
AR: This journey is different for many, but for me it has to be about SAYING SOMETHING! If I don’t feel like I am not making a social impact, speak up for the under-represented and making a difference in the business, I don’t want to do it. I quoted George Carlin today and he’s no longer with us, that’s priceless!
Last Comic Standing allowed me to speak in my voice, they did not try to alter what I was saying. Now due to network restrictions they weren’t allowed to air everything I said but the producers and writers of that show encouraged, praised and definitely celebrated me for being me.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
AR: Absolutely! I can’t be very specific because I am not allowed to be, but I will tell you this, you can expect to see me on television sharing that point of view of mine that either makes you scream or shriek. In the meantime you can catch me headlining some of your favorite clubs around the world, yes I said WORLD.
Official Website: http://www.funnyaida.com/
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