“Taken generally, the ridiculous is a certain kind of evil, specifically a vice” said Plato in Philebus opposing humor and relegating the act — and art — of comedy to “slaves or hired aliens, and that they receive no serious consideration whatsoever.”
Historically, laughter has been associated with scorn, malice, superiority complexes, and lack of self-control. Even though figures like Bergson, and Freud, have developed theories to explain the releasing pressure of hilarity, the truth is that those theories fail to include a feminist worldview of comedy.
Dr. Kein explains that these theories on laughter are not beneficial in the analysis of female comedy. Precisely, female representation in comedy struggles with the collective male understanding of what “humor” actually is.
It is with this historic backdrop that the personal stories of these Latina comedians represent not only a challenge to the male-dominant industry of comedy but also the restructuring of their experiences into quick-witted and relatable shows that resonate with such an enormous audience.
Humor can be used as a coping mechanism for trauma. Beyond acting as a therapy outlet, these Latinas reconstruct their notion of self-love by being brutally honest and taking inspiration from their personal lives.
Here is a concise list of why you should keep these six Latina comedians on your radar:
Aida Rodriguez’s Fighting Words discovers her Afro-Latina roots in the Dominican Republic and tells the story of racial hierarchies in her family. Rodriguez shares her childhood struggles with kidnapping, racism, and her upbringing in the Florida hood.
Cristela Alonzo’s 2019 Mixtape Memoir Music to My Ears opens with a heartfelt dedication to “every person who has worked in a job that sometimes makes them feel invisible.” Alonzo was the first Latina to create, produce, and star in her own network sitcom, Cristela, and the first Latina lead in a Disney Pixar film, Cars 3. Her stand-up special, Lower Classy, can be streamed on Netflix.
Dee Nasty’s creativity and wit have taken her to co-produce and co-star two shows with fellow Dominicana Sasha Merci, Sancocho and Like, Share, Dímelo with Sasha and Dee. In an interview with Latina to Latina, both comedians share their stories, from working at a hotel in New York to achieving massive media opportunities through their social media platform and reach.
Jenny Lorenzo, through her abuelita character, has been able to connect with the Cuban Americans in Miami that see a representation of their own family members in her sketches. In an interview with NBC 6, Lorenzo states that she wants people to be proud of their culture. With an online audience of over 1 million people, she has proven how comedy is a great tool for minorities.
Colombian comedian Liss Pereira has amassed international success through several of her projects, such as her 2019 hour-long stand-up comedy show Reteniendo Líquidos, her podcast Sospechosamente Light with Tato Cepeda and Santiago Rendón, and starring in MasterChef Celebrity Colombia in 2021.
Sasha Merci describes her comedy journey as “cathartic,” explaining her struggles with Impostor Syndrome and the gratitude she feels towards stand-up for allowing her the platform to challenge her shyness. Starring in HBO Max’s movie, “De Lo Mio,” with her childhood friend and comedian Dee Nasty, Sasha gives life to Rita, a Dominican girl raised in New York that reunites with her estranged brother to clean out their late father’s childhood home. A powerful story that resonates with many women living in the diaspora.
Be sure to find more about these women who are breaking the glass ceiling of female comedy in our Popscene section, as their achievements are inspirational for the community as a whole.