Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interview with local Comic Pudge Fernandez!

Pudge Fernandez is a very funny local NYC comic. He is also a great friend and mentor of mines. Pudge  was the person who broke my comedy cherry!  He gave me a great supportive introduction as I walked up to the stage for the first time to perform. Check out this quick interview! 

What Has influence your comedy?

Here is part two of the Comedy Central story for those who are interested. I decided to put up the second  essay I had to write to them. The question was What has influence your comedy? I wanted to show them that I was a student of comedy as I watched and studied from the greats. Also talk about people that made a difference in my life. So here is the essay! my next post will be on how I found out about the decision, the things that was going on in my life around that time, and how I took that hit and kept moving forward as it made me stronger and wiser.

Ricardo Herrera
2- What has influenced your writing and how?
As a student of comedy; people, shows, experience and my environment have influenced my writing at different stages of my life. Growing up without cable TV, I watched “The Wayans Brothers”, “Mad TV”, “Full house”, and “Family Matters”. These shows played a part into molding my comedic humor. I would try to imitate specific characters from those shows for friends and family and go to my room to write a funny story. When I was ten, I was fascinated by the tapes I found in my brother’s apartment, and surprised they weren’t porn. I found episodes from the television sitcom “Martin”, and a stand up performance from Eddie Murphy’s “Delirious”. I wanted to do what those guys were doing.
From that day on everything I watched was comedy; from Mel Brooks, to Woody Allen, to “Dave Chappelle’s Show” and Andy Dick. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school, that I realized majority of shows were scripted. I thought everything was improvisation and all you had to do was write an idea. After High school I started a book of ideas and wrote stories about them.
My Second year of college was the most influential on my writing. I met with Jeff Hirschberg, the Director of the Television and Film Arts Program at Buffalo State College. Jeff taught me about the format of storytelling and scriptwriting. He guided me through the process of turning ideas into stories. I bought a book on scriptwriting and started taking classes in the major before I was accepted into the program. In the scriptwriting class, I wrote my first short film script about a pimp in a wheel chair named Mickey “Slap a ho” Daniels. This was a great moment for me because I finally wrote something that was presentable and professional. I incorporated what I learned about storytelling and used it on stage. In the summer of 2009 I was born as a comedian and was obsessed with the art form. I started doing standup in New York and continue doing my routines as a student at Buffalo State. I travel by bus two hours each way to perform in comedy shows and to attend my classes. I am still influenced by comedians I see who are part of the day-to-day grind of the business. It was interesting how difficult it was to write a story, as well as presenting it on stage and television. I learned that a script is a living document and doing revisions is a must. With research, I discovered the history of comedy as well as the comedians before me like Lenny Bruce, Freddie Prince, Dick Gregory, and John Leguizamo. I wanted to learn everything about comedy and who influenced whom. Recently, I visited the Paley Center of Media and I spent hours watching old shows and stand up performances. I realized that comedy became a turning point in my life, and it dictated direction of my future. I don’t regret the good or the bad that has happened in my life. I took everything for what it is, and use that as motivation to chase my dream. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Comedy Central

Months ago I had one of the biggest opportunities in my life which I am very proud of. I was nominated to apply to this tough selective internship. In this internship I would intern as a comedy writer and got paid to do it. It was a long process of writing, and recommendations. I did not land the internship but I am very honored and proud I was nominated. It shows my hard work is paying off. The story behind why I didn't get the internship is a long one itself showing how rude the industry can be. I will explain the story in my next post, telling you the process of getting nominated, me finding inspiration to write and everything leading up to the final decision. I had to dig deep when I wrote "Why I wanted to become a comedy writer". I wanted them to know how much comedy means to me so I gave them a piece of me in that letter. I decided to share one of the letters. I hope who ever read this will be motivated or inspired to keep chasing their dreams.  You have to have tough skin in this industry and the only way to build that is by taking these hits. Like I always say you keep hitting and I'll keep chasing. So here is the first letter I wrote.

Ricardo Herrera
1-    Why do you want to become a comedy writer?
A few years ago on a cold night in Brooklyn, my friend José Quinones was shot to death just before Christmas. I realized we all have choices. Comedy has kept me from engaging in a lifestyle that could have a negative impact on my life. Growing up in the projects made a life of crime more accessible than becoming a comedian or writer. The ability to make someone laugh is fascinating to me. When I discovered I was able to do that to people, it was something I wanted to keep pursuing. Comedy is like my big brother, it got me out of a lot of situations. The bullies stop bullying me because I was funny. The girls started noticing me because I made them laugh. I get a great sense of joy entertaining people, whether performing or writing my sketches. I quickly learned that comedy is one of the most serious businesses in entertainment; it’s more than just telling jokes on a page or a stage. You basically succeed and fail in public. I need to constantly practice and write. I was attracted to the discipline of writing comedy and performing. There are factors that you need to consider before you grab the mic on stage.  It’s like you’re in control of your own destiny. The moment I performed standup for the first time I knew this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a part of the comedy world, writing, entertaining and performing. John Vorhuas wrote in his book The Comic Toolbox, “Comedy is pain and pain is comedy.”  I took the worst days of my life and made them the funniest. Writing and performing is therapy for me, it’s my escape from everything. Before doing stand up or being accepted to the Television and Film Arts major, which is a selective interdisciplinary program that accepts 15 students per year, my family and when I say family, I actually mean my Mother and sister; because my father left me when I was seven to become a fulltime dead beat dad. We were the second Hispanic family living in Van dyke projects located in Brownsville. Brownsville was a predominately African American area, so we quickly learned how to eat fried chicken with the best of them. Also the film Brooklyn’s Finest was shot in my town for its beautiful cinematography of violence, blood and dark gloomy buildings. My friend Carlos, from the only other Hispanic family in the neighborhood and I, would always joke around, write funny ideas and perform for our friends at school. We then became known as the funny white kids. Growing up poor and in a crime-ridden area made me who I am today. Comedy took the misery in my life, and turned it to laughter for others to enjoy. I am 23 years old and I have done things that I never dreamed of doing. Interning at the television network Bravo in the summer of 2010 was one of them. I sent three hundred letters to television networks in New York requesting informational meetings to learn about the entertainment industry. I expected to get one interview, but with my persistence and focus, I ended up with nine; at networks like, MTV, Vh1, and Bravo. At Comedy Central, I was fortunate enough to meet with Sam Grossman, V.P. of Programming. In the end, I had internship offers from Vh1, Bravo, and MTV. I chose Bravo, and I also told myself I will be meeting with Comedy Central again in the future. One year later I’m here writing this letter to you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Im Not a Feen"

I was on the train and saw something that inspired me to write.

"I'm Not a Feen"

I once met a guy that his heart was golden and every year that went by it began to darken. Everywhere he went people judged him and every time he spoke people ignored him. Walking past people but for them he don't exist. This man grew up fatherless. If he died today he won't be miss. This man had dreams and big goals to but you won't know because you won't take time to.
Listen to a voice that became voiceless. To look into the eyes of a man starving. He tries not to be rude as he walks by you asking for money or food. You just look at him like he was a statue but don't even dare to give a dollar or two. Always remember this could be you. He struggles to walk with his leg disorder, he finds happiness in a garbage can soda. Another hungry morning another starving night. Unbearable pain from his disjointed legs but still he finds the strength to plea and beg. My advice to you is don't judge when you don't know because the 3 year old next to me just gave him his oreos.