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Here are some California locals who’ve earned the right to make fun of this place.
Margaret Cho, George Lopez, Tiffany Haddish and eight other California-bred comedians offer unique perspectives on their home state.
Stand-up humor about California has historically been jokes by comics from New York and other smartypants making fun of L.A. and San Francisco. Case in point, provided by New York transplant Bill Maher on his adopted city: “Drug kingpin Amado Fuentes died from nine hours of liposuction and plastic surgery—or, as it’s commonly known here in Beverly Hills, natural causes.”
Here are some funny California natives who’ve earned the right to make fun of this place.
Margaret Cho grew up in San Francisco's racially diverse Ocean Beach section, which she describes as a area populated by “old hippies, ex-druggies, burnouts from the 1960s, drag queens, Chinese people, and Koreans. To say it was a melting pot—that’s the least of it. It was a really confusing, enlightening, wonderful time.”
“I always felt like an outsider growing up. In school, I felt like I never fit in. But it didn't help when my mother, instead of buying me glue for school projects, would tell me to just use rice.”
“I was like, ‘Am I gay? Am I straight?’ And I realized ... I’m just slutty. Where’s my parade?”
Find out more on Margaret Cho’s official site.
Former Daily Show With Jon Stewart Senior Latino Correspondent Al Madrigal was born in San Francisco, where Margaret Cho was a neighbor. He’s taken some guff for not being “Latino enough,” and on his quest-for-identity special Half Like Me admits he’s “as white as it gets” because he lives in a cul-de-sac and drives a Prius. Along with comic Bill Burr, Al founded the mega-successful All Things Comedy podcast and network.
“Near my house in Los Angeles is a waterfall. I love to take the wife and kids, but it’s also near a sketchy neighborhood. So there’s a lot of gang members that hang out at the waterfall. It’s like somebody took an Ansel Adams photo and then put a Cypress Hill video inside it.”
“I'm half-Mexican—get used to it ’cause in about five to 10 years, you’re all gonna be related to one. Whether you like it or not, no matter how much you prepared your family, you’re gonna show up at Thanksgiving one of these years, you’re gonna walk in and say, ‘Hey! What’s happening? Since when did we start serving flan?’ Well, what’s happening is that somebody’s boning a Latino.”
Learn more on Al Madrigal’s not-so-official website.
Comedian, actor and author of How Not to Get Shot: And Other Advice From White People, D.L. Hughley grew up in South Central L.A. As a teenager, he joined the Bloods gang and got kicked out of high school.
“Did you ever have the police follow you for so long, that you get suspicious about your own goddamn self? ‘Maybe I did kill them people.’”
“Black folks never bungee jump. That’s too much like lynching for us. I’m gonna let you tie a rope around me and push me off a bridge? You must be out your damn mind.’”
“The most dangerous place for black people to live ... is in white people’s imagination.”
Learn more about the comedian on IMDB.com.
Famous for his work in sitcoms, film, standup comedy and late-night television, George Lopez was born in Mission Hills in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. By the time he was two months old, his migrant-worker father has taken off; by age 10, he was living with his maternal grandmother and step-grandfather.
“If the worst thing that can happen is that nobody laughs, then I can deal with that, because the worst thing that can happen at the factory is that I could lose a limb or be crushed by a huge machine.”
“Tasers don’t work on us. When you grow up poor, you get shocked by shit every single day. Toasters, lamps...”
“This is L.A. You wanna learn Spanish? Take the bus.”
George Lopez’s official site has details on tours, comedy special, merch and more.
Born to a Chinese-American father and South Vietnamese mother, Ali Wong grew up in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. She graduated from UCLA summa cum laude with a B.A. in Asian American studies and later she studied in Vietnam as a Fulbright scholar.
“Some useful advice for all of my Asian-American brothers and sisters—never go paint-balling with a Vietnam veteran.”
“I have a hoarding problem, because my mom is from a third-world country. And she taught me that you can never throw away anything because you never know when a dictator is going to overtake the country and snatch all of your wealth.”
“If you want me to perform in Silver Lake—where it looks like Vice magazine threw up everywhere, where all the men are wearing V-necks to their belly buttons, salmon pants, and carrying a screenplay—I’ll do it, because they might appreciate a Banksy joke I can’t do anywhere else.”
Links to tour dates, comedy specials, merchandise and her new book are on Ali Wong’s site.
Actress and standup comic Tiffany Haddish grew up in South Central Los Angeles. Making jokes was her way of coping with a rough childhood. Her comedy act, as well as her memoir The Last Black Unicorn, includes stories of her childhood in foster care, living in her car for a while, and a stint as an in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman.
“I tried to join three gangs, and every single one gave me a different excuse, but it was pretty much along the lines of, ‘You’re too goofy. You’re too cute. You don’t fit in.’”
“Do you know how difficult it is to be black and Jewish in the hood?”
Tiffany Haddish’s site includes footage from her latest movie, The Card Counter, and the upcoming series The After Party.
Iranian-born Maz Jobrani moved to California when he was six years old. Much of his standup revolves around the immigrant experience and racism against Middle Easterners. You can get your Maz-full at his All Things Comedy podcast Back to School with Maz and his standup special Pandemic Warrior on Peacock TV.
“I grew up in Northern California—Marin County, Tiburon. And it’s interesting. It’s a very rich place, but a lot of the affluent people are—they’re not as showy. So, like, they might have, like, a Saab or a Volvo. And then here comes my dad from Iran. He buys a Rolls-Royce.”
On trying to fit in: “I’d eat apple pie and play baseball. I’d eat apple pie while playing baseball.”
Learn about Maz Jobrani’s podcast, tour dates, videos, and his new audio album, “I’m Not a Terrorist, But I’ve Played One On TV.”
Self-proclaimed “Native American comedian, writer and abstract concept” Dash Turner is a Yurok comic from Chico who was named one of IllumiNative’s 25 Native American Comedians to Watch in 2020.
“Some of the other comics on the lineup tonight are going to claim to be from Northern California, and something I just want to make clear right now is that I need you all to take that with heavy grains of salt. Northern California—real Northern California—starts three hours north of the Bay Area. Everything beneath that: SoCal.”
“New York City is not a world-class city because we do not have a Baja Fresh and we do not have a water park. I just want to be clear on that. This place will never be as good as NorCal.”
DashTurner.com is this young comedian’s online home.
Gabriel Iglesias was born in San Diego and lived in Riverside, Corona, Santa Ana, Baldwin Park and Compton before landing with his single mother in Section 8 low-income housing in Long Beach. Also known as “Fluffy”—as in “Oh, I’m not fat, I’m fluffy”—Iglesias' act covers food, getting loaded, and cars, along with his cultural identity.
“I’ve always worn Hawaiian shirts. Bottom line is simple. Why do I wear ’em? ’Cause they fit. They’re colorful, and I’m sorry—when you wear a Hawaiian shirt and you’re living in the ghetto, people don’t think you’re up to no good. You’re not a gang member wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Nobody’s gonna take you serious, you know? You can’t be hard and colorful.”
“I got myself a big old SUV. It was nice for a while. This car freakin’ sucked on mileage. I got 11 miles to the gallon. Oh, you cannot be bad-ass in a car that kills gas like I kill tacos—you can’t.”
All things Gabriel Iglesias can be found on FluffyGuy.com.
Kelly Pryce was raised in a blue-collar neighborhood in Sacramento. Her “brazen and fearless” act revolves around her husband and four children.
“I’m from Sacramento. I live here in L.A. now. It’s tough to look like me and live in this city. My forehead can move. My boobies are real. I haven’t had my vagina rejuvenated. I’m like a mythological creature in this city. Like a unicorn. A unicorn no one wants to have sex with.”
Kelly Pryce’s site has links to her new album, Life With a Pryce.
How many standups have their own day in their own hometown? The city of Los Angeles recently declared Aug. 18 to be Brody Stevens Day. The late self-described “blue-collar Jewish” comic, who took his life in 2019 after a battle with mental illness, was a fervent Dodger fan and 818 booster who grew up in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, graduated from Reseda High School, and liked to brag, “I'm from L.A.—818 till I die!” The caps in the following jokes are pure Brody.
“I’m very good-looking. . . . I’ve done some modeling in PAKISTAN!! I was on the cover of CAMEL BEAT MAGAZINE!! I’m very intense. I get B.O. in the shower.”
“I’m not rich. I went to public schools. I fought gangbangers—Bloods and Crips. I fought a Crip, if you want to get real, in 1987. I pulled her hair. I said, ‘Listen, this is my cafeteria.’”
“I’m very HAIRY. I went for a swim in the L.A. River, and I clogged the drain.”
Read about Brody Stevens on his Wikipedia page.
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