Great comedians spend hours writing, performing, polishing, and even bombing. That’s before they even try to make it as a comedian for a living. Making it more difficult, Latinx and Latin American comedians from humble beginnings end up competing with people with more connections, money, and opportunities. As immigrants and/or residents outside of the United States, Latinx and Latin American parents may discourage their children from pursuing comedy as a career because—let’s face it—there are many variables outside of a person’s control that can dictate whether or not comedy pays off.
But all of these Latinx and Latin American comedians made it! And their success is that much more remarkable because of how the deck was stacked against them. Using their honesty, experiences, and skills the comedians on this list make us both laugh and think. Let’s celebrate them:
Cristela Alonzo, Middle Classy, Netflix (2022), English
The follow-up to her successful and honest Lower Classy, this special features Cristela Alonzo talking about why she loves getting older and how it feels to be the first in the family to do nearly everything. Those of us who had to help our families navigate life in the United States, deal with immigration issues, and learn how to rest and care for ourselves will definitely find her words relatable.
A few other fun tidbits? Alonzo talked about the awkwardness of meeting people from other cultures for the first time, code-switching, and the significance of her birthday. She also featured a very special and accomplished guest whose work has made its mark on the Latinx community.
Yuri Marçal, Honest Mistake, Netflix (2022), Portuguese
If you’re not familiar with Brazil’s vibrant comedy scene, let Yuri Marçal be your first introduction. Raised in Rio Janeiro, Marçal is known for his fast delivery, witty observations, and sense of style.
He discusses family, touches upon the Atlantic Slave Trade, and provides a sound argument for why Jesus was Black. Marçal also takes on the concept of miscegenação (mestizaje), and uses comedy to show how that affects Brazilians. His examinations of injustice shine through even as you laugh.
Aida Rodríguez, They Ready, Season 1, Netflix (2019), English
Aida Rodríguez is a well-respected comedian with her own special, Fighting Words (2021, HBO Max). Sadly, this special was deleted from the streaming service in some markets (but not the U.S.!) after its merger with Discovery – the injustice! Thankfully, we still have her special as part of Tiffany Haddish’s They Ready.
In this episode, Rodríguez talks about the women who raised her, racism within Latinx communities, and what it’s like to represent various parts of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. She also presents a practical solution for solving problems caused by misogyny, which you’ll just have to tune in to hear.
With her meticulous attention to timing, Rodríguez shows us that it’s possible to take negative life events and turn them into funny stories. And hey, the rest of They Ready also features other amazing comedians too.
Comedy Chingonas, HBO Max (2021), English
This special features eight Latinx comedians performing during the HA Comedy Festival in San Antonio: Vanessa Gonzalez, Debi Gutierrez, Carmen Carrera, Xazmin Garza, Jill-Michele Meleán, Crist Guzman, Mariannette LaPuppet, and Luz Pazos. The hour-long episode features Danny Trejo and Izabella Alvarez as hosts.
With every comedian, we see different aspects of the Latinx experience. From being trans, to dealing with parents, to deciding to have children (or not), struggling with fertility, to identifying as lesbian, to facing mental health issues, every comedian brings up a salient topic that affects them in some way. It also helps that we see Trejo and Alvarez’s sweet interactions between sets, powering the whole thing forward.
Malena Pichot, Estupidez Compleja, Netflix (2018), Spanish
Malena Pichot filmed this stand-up special the same year Argentina voted to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape (all cases were decriminalized in 2020). Pichot isn’t shy about her feminist convictions, even using her comedy to bash the patriarchy and make fun of men who think sex solves everything. Pichot’s set is riddled with Argentinian slang, but watching it, I couldn’t help but see proof that we Latinx/os are more similar than we think.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Aida Rodríguez‘s Fighting Words had been removed from HBO. It is still available in the US, although not in Argentina where the reporter filed the story from.