In a world where reality can be overwhelming, stressful and downright terrifying at times, it’s important to have a sense of humor to help keep you sane. After all, laughter is the best medicine, and if laughing so hard we nearly pee in our pants (and sometimes actually pee in our pants) is going to help us forget about the chaos of our daily lives, or at least laugh through it, then we’re all in. And thankfully there are guys like Al Madrigal to help keep the giggles coming.
The Mexican-American comedian (full name Alessandro Liborio Madrigal) is definitely not new to the comedy and entertainment scene: he’s had roles in everything from TV sitcoms to comedy specials to TV documentaries and late-night TV. You may know him as the “Senior Latino Correspondent” on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Or perhaps you’ve seen him do standup or in one of his TV specials. If you have ever heard or seen Madrigal perform we one thing for certain: he’s definitely made you laugh. And we’re talking laugh-so-hard-your-belly-hurts. Like that ache-in-the-sides-of-your-abdomen and sore-cheeks from smiling kind of laughing. You know what we’re talking about.
This guy really does have a gift. His TV special, Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy, is streaming on Showtime and it’s by far the funniest 58 minutes you’ve had in a long time.
Here are 12 reasons we love Al Madrigal, from his ability to laugh at himself to his unique ability to make us laugh at the absurdity of the world.
He is Proudly Mexican-American
Madrigal is half Latino, half white, born in America to a Mexican father and a Sicilian mother. And he is open and hilariously honest about what it means to be half. He admits it can be confusing to be a blend of two ethnicities and cultures — I’m a coconut, brown on the outside, white on the inside, he says in the promo for his comedy special Half Like Me. Madrigal isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself for being both half Latino but also as “white as it gets” because he lives in a cul-de-sac and drives a Prius. Latinos confuse him for being Jewish or think he is not Latino enough, and white people think he is Mexican. In this hysterical one-hour special Madrigal goes on a journey of self-discovery, learning Spanish, practicing how to properly pronounce his name (and roll his r’s) and even discusses important topics of Latino identity with Univision’s Jorge Ramos, the “godfather of all Mexicans,” as Madrigal calls him.
His Honest Take on The Hazards of Parenthood is Spot On
As any parent of young kids could tell you, sometimes hanging out with your kids and their friends sucks. But truth be told, most parents of young kids won’t tell you that. It’s blasphemy to utter the words. Parents also won’t tell you about how you’ll never have disposable income or travel plans or a social life again after you have kids. But Al Madrigal will tell you all of that and more. He’s honest about parenthood, about the chaos, the insanity, the annoying forced interactions with your kids’ friends’ parents. He’ll tell you about how friends without kids have seen you and your crazy life and have just decided “it’s not for them.” He says what we’re all thinking about raising kids and it’s freakin’ hilarious.
He Does his Research, He Even Watches Fox News
Clearly the 2016 election provided a lot of amusing (and terrifying) material for comedians everywhere. And then the outcome of the election and everything that has followed has provided an equal amount of content to choose from. But Madrigal doesn’t just go for the easy targets and the obvious jokes, and he makes sure to do his research from both ends of the aisle. He doesn’t just watch MSNBC he also watches Fox News to get perspective before ripping politicians apart in his stand up. In an interview with EW he explained that he’s still fascinated by watching Fox News and he thinks everyone should watch it as well, especially Democrats. “When they’re covering what I think is a major incident on MSNBC and CNN, Fox isn’t touching it,” he said. “It’s crazy to me. So I always like to just sort of see what news everyone else is getting and as well as Fox, and I try to compare and contrast the messages that are put out there by the different networks.”
He Prefers Small, Underground Venues
Despite his fame, Madrigal still prefers to perform at smaller underground venues. He once said: “I prefer a small, underground venue. That’s ideal for me. Intimate, well-behaved crowd. I love it. I hope people realize how lucky they are. The acoustics really help. I like a low ceiling – everybody sort of packed into a small room. That’s the best.”
He is the Co-Founder of ‘The All Things Comedy Network’ With Bill Burr
Performing as a stand-up comedian is a tough job, finding opportunities and avenues to express your comedic chops is an even tougher job, and finding success as a comedian in today’s world isn’t something that comes easily for most, even those with the skills to make people laugh like never before. So along with comedian Bill Burr, Madrigal co-founded the All Things Comedy Network — a network of unique comedy content and unique opportunities and access for comedians. ATC is a lot of things; according to its website it is “a robust outlet for podcasts and other media; a resource for information about your favorite performers; a place for passionate conversation about comedians and comedy; a digital hub for the distribution of merchandise; and a studio for the creation of innovative branded content.” And what began as an idea and an attempt to “not be homeless” has grown to something much bigger. This past September ATC signed a production deal with Comedy Central to include a stand-up comedy series and several comedy specials that will air on the network.
He’s Bombed On Stage And He’s Not Afraid To Talk About It
We would venture to guess the tall comedians bomb at some point. If you do enough shows you must eventually have a set that is so bad and that is received so poorly by your audience that you literally get booed off the stage. It can be argued that those awful sets are actually the ones that make you better, just like in any career where failure helps you learn and grow. But when you put yourself out there on stage it seems a bit more stressful to fail so epically. But comedians often do, and Madrigal definitely did. And he’s not too proud to talk about his epic bomb; in fact, he talks about it on the YouTube “Worst I Ever Bombed” channel. And when he says be “bombed” he really means it. It was so bad that Madrigal ran away from an angry audience hiding under his coat as he dashed for his car.
Madrigal Blends Political Satire with Personal Stories
A truly talented comedian is able to not only cover one topic or one type of comedy, and that is where Madrigal shines. Sure, he does a lot of political satire and he doesn’t shy away from tough topics or current events. Especially as a Mexican-American, some of the work he’s most proud of is when he has covered immigration and the Latino experience in America. But he also talks a lot about his family, his kids, his upbringing and his personal life.
He Has a Business Background of Firing People
It’s hard to imagine a comedian such as Madrigal, who has the power and gift to make people laugh for hours on end, also having the ability to be a businessman with the gift of — wait for it — firing people. Yes, his family business is a human resource management company and before becoming a professional comic, Madrigal had his time working for the family biz, firing people for a living. He fired over 1,000 people and his first gig firing someone was at the ripe age of 19. Luckily for all of us, he chose comedy as his ultimate career move, and even luckier, he did a bit with James Corden showing off his firing skills.
In the Showtime Dramedy “I’m Dying Up Here” Madrigal Plays a Struggling Latino Comedian
Madrigal’s role in the Showtime series I’m Dying Up Here, about struggling stand up comedians in the 1970s, is based on several real comedians who inspired his career. He based his character on a mash-up of several well-known and groundbreaking Latino comedians, including Freddie Prinze, Cheech and Carlos Mencia. And he was very involved in the writing process to help craft his character into the type of comedian he wanted to portray — a character full of desperation and struggle but also hope and humor.
His Performances have Won Awards
In 2004, Madrigal was named the Best Stand-Up Comedian at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen and in 2015 he also won the 2015 “Storyteller Award” at the Mixed Remixed Festival in Los Angeles for an hour-long comedy special for ABC and Univision. And while he’s been celebrated and recognized for his work both as a TV actor and stand-up comic, he remains humble and grounded. He has described his TV career as “more than 75 memorable appearances on many less-than-memorable sitcoms” and he constantly pokes fun at himself. And perhaps one of the biggest compliments is that the New York Post called Madrigal the man who “will make you howl until you spit expensive mineral water from your nose.”
His Jokes are Well Thought Out and He Prefers Long-form Humor
In an interview with UPROXX Madrigal explains that, because he doesn’t crank out a TV special every year, he really thinks through his set and his jokes. He prefers delivering fully formed bits and expanding jokes and stories to their full potential. His hope is that the audience realized his jokes aren’t just long jokes, but jokes with heart and an epic punch line. And this form of humor was in part inspired by his time at The Daily Show. “When I was working on The Daily Show, I discovered that was something Jon Stewart was able to do very well — to make things that meant something, but were also silly,” he explained. “It’s difficult to pull off, but it’s something I’ve always been challenged by. And it’s all the comedy I tend to like, too.”
He’s Relatable, and He Has a Bit of a Temper, Like Most of Us
For better or for worse in his personal life, but definitely for better in his professional life, Madrigal has a short fuse that often leads him to act in ways he wished he didn’t. And while many of us suffer from a short temper and often overreact because of it, his temper leads to some seriously awesome comedy material. From telling parents at his kid’s school to go f*ck themselves to the story behind the title of his Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy comedy special on Showtime, Madrigal has some legit wild stories that are rooted in his temper. In an interview with Conan O’Brien, Madrigal tells about how his crazy Sicilian mother bought him a book on revenge when he was younger (yes, really) and so began his family joke about seafood revenge. Spoiler alert: it’s not a sexual thing, but it’s still hilarious and a little bit twisted.