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Fronteras: South Texas Latino comedians talk representation and inspiration at TPR-hosted panel

Latino comedy has been around for decades.

Comedians like George Lopez, Cheech Marín, and Paul Rodriguez poked fun at their families and experiences, and led the way for others like John Leguizamo, Gabriel Iglesias, and Cristela Alonzo.

A trio of rising South Texas comedians took center stage June 6 in a celebration of Latino comedy as part of Texas Public Radio’s Creekside Sessions series.

The comedians participated in an hour-long set, then sat down for a conversation moderated by Texas Public Radio’s news and Fronteras producer, Marian Navarro.

Comedians included Laredo nativeVanessa Gonzalez and San Antonio-based comedians Raul Sanchezand Tori Pool.

Gonzalez has been featured on HBO and was one of Variety Magazine’s 10 Comics to Watch in 2022.

Gonzalez, who is opening this year for Chelsea Handler, said it was an uphill battle to establish herself in the comedy scene.

“I didn’t see anybody that looked like me or that was from where I’m from that was doing [standup],” she said. “When I jumped in, I started producing my own shows and I started booking spaces … because no one else would book me.”

Pool is the host and producer of TPR’s Worth Repeating podcast, and co-author of the popular card game Latino Card Revoked.

She said while she now embraces her identity, she was afraid the label as a “Latina comic” would be limiting.

“I did feel scared that I would only be at Las Chiladas telling jokes,” she said. “There was sort of this moment of panic and it sort of kept me from writing about my experiences for a while.”

Sanchez is a U.S. Army veteran and San Antonio resident who has performed at festivals across North America.

View the full panel below.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1