Performing Comedy

Performing Comedy
Adelina Anthony on performing comedy.
Photograph by LeAnn Mueller

NAME: Adelina Anthony | AGE: 36 | HOMETOWN: San Antonio | QUALIFICATIONS: Has performed theater, stand-up comedy, and one-woman shows across the country for almost fifteen years / Her famously salacious and edgy routines—including “La Angry Xicana?!” “La Sad Girl,” and the award-winning “Mastering Sex and Tortillas!”—are recognized for challenging cultural taboos and stereotypes of race, gender, politics, and sexuality

• My first training ground was what I call “Chicana living room drama.” Growing up, my family went through some traumatic things, and one of my mantras was “If you can laugh about it, then you survived it.”

• I was the class clown. But instead of seeing it as negative, my fourth-grade teacher put me in a school play. I got hooked on the energy exchange between audience and performer.

• You write a solid first five minutes, then build on that. It’s about making it a daily practice, writing one good joke a day. And really listening to people, because people are naturally funny.

• I don’t know if a joke works until I perform it.

• I play different characters in my shows. In “La Angry Xicana?!” I juxtapose all these ridiculous movements and physicality—everything from playing a gorilla ape-man to Chicano homeboys—but in an elegant black dress.

• Oh, my God, cell phones. They’re the bane of live performance, but for stand-up, I have the best time with them. I will stop, go into the audience, steal the phone. The audience has always loved that.

• You want to get a good laugh every twenty seconds or less.

• People have asked me, “What are you trying to get across?” I consciously use an in-your-face sexuality, which is a queer and feminist sexuality. I talk about politics. I talk about health. I talk about things that are affecting me personally, like the price of rent.

• I’m a product of Madonna and Selena. I grew up with images of these women entertainers who used their sexuality to draw people in.

• If it’s an off night, I always tell the audience, “You guys are off, so get it together! I’ve done my work.” It may be a group that did not know what it was getting into when it booked me.

• So much about the punch line is giving the unexpected answer.

• I’ll study other comedians, because we speak to the same issues. I love Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres. Wanda Sykes is brilliant. I like parts of George Lopez. I’m appreciative that he’s made Chicano and Spanglish mainstream, but he’s a product of his time. I’m the next generation, the young Chicana lesbian feminist with critiques about this macho culture.

• There’s an audience for every comic. If I were to ever perform for a Republican convention, I would fall flat on my face.

• I want people to be thinking about what I’ve said or what has made them laugh long after the performance has ended.

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