It's become a cliché: A stand-up comedian, after years of living out of a suitcase, performing to rooms full (or not) of pleased spectators and merciless hecklers, happens to be in the right club on the right night and gets his Big Break. A sitcom deal follows. Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin James, Ray Romano, Christopher Titus, D.L. Hughley and Steve Harvey are just a few who have become successful through this formula. Others get canned after a season (if they're lucky) and are back on the road with a "formerly of" tag tacked behind their names.
The survivors are mostly male and mainly white, which doesn't bode well for George Lopez, a Los Angeles Latino comedian whose big break came in the shape of Sandra Bullock, who caught one of his shows on a recommendation from a friend. Along with The Drew Carey Show's Bruce Helford, they've just inked a deal with ABC to do The George Lopez Show. But Lopez isn't making the leap from club stage to soundstage with no experience. He's already starred in Bread and Roses and a handful of cable TV and independent films.
Like others with similar "success" stories, Lopez's show is to be based on his comedy act, which he has taken across the nation and just released on a CD called Right Now, Right Now. Lopez stars as a union representative for an airline parts company; he lives with his wife, their kids and his grandmother. He says it will be a middle-class show, more Roseanne than Cosby.
But, wait, that doesn't sound like his comedy act at all. In his sets, Lopez breezes through observations about his childhood in the Latin community in L.A. where sarcasm was more available than cash. When he asks to hold his birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's, he's told, if he wants to see a mouse, then pull the fridge away from the wall. And, in one of the best bits from the CD, he's given a sex talk in English by a well-meaning relative. The advice includes such warnings as using a liberated condor to prevent getting VH1. Here's hoping some of this material makes it into the show.