Cristela Alonzo, an alumni of the Dallas comedy scene, recently finished taping her big Comedy Central Half Hour (re-branded from the more famous moniker Comedy Central Presents), which debuts Saturday morning at 12.30 a.m. Tapped by major entertainment website Vulture as one of the top 50 comedians with a chance of breaking out this year, Alonzo follows in the comedic pratfalls of Mitch Hedberg and Patton Oswalt by getting the chance to showcase her talents in a dedicated Comedy Central show. She's also managed to land a development deal to create a sitcom based around her life.
Although hailing from Texas-Mexico border town San Juan and currently residing in LA, Alonzo cut her comedy teeth on the Dallas open-mic circuit, which she's been talking about in recent interviews. If you've never heard of her, that's because her career trajectory has been nothing short of stellar, as she explained to austinvida.com.
"I ended up going to college for theatre and moved to Dallas. In 2002, my mom passed away and I told myself if my mom came from Mexico so that I could have a better life here in the United States, I'm going to try to do what I've always wanted to do: stand-up. I started off doing open mic competitions in Dallas and within two years I was living in Los Angeles and writing for Comedy Central."
There aren't a huge number of nationally-famous graduates from the relatively small (but tightly-knit) Dallas stand-up scene, which makes Alonzo something of a local rarity.
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How did she get through the Dallas open mic scene and onto LA in such a short space of time? The answer, as is so often the case, appears to be dedication and commitment. She was asked about the Dallas open mic scene in a recent splitsider.com interview.
"I always say the Dallas scene is small but we're pretty consistent. I love everybody there... there's these two women, Linda and Jan, they do this makeshift Backdoor Comedy Club that has moved locations so many times. They're the ones that give space, they give spots for young comics and local comics to do sets. The Backdoor's been in a bowling alley, at a feed store, at a diner, right now they're at a Doubletree Hotel, and people come out.
What I like about that club is that you have to be clean. You can't cuss. It's because they want to help people learn how to work clean. It can be dirty everywhere else, but the thinking is that if you want to do standup at some point you might have to do a TV set, so they get you in the thinking of like being able to do five to seven minutes without cussing, without doing anything. They're very cool, and every time I go back to Dallas, I work the Backdoor Comedy Club.
Because it's in a hotel on the weekends -- it's only like Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- the comics, after they do their set, they have to help strike the set. So they have to carry lights, they carry the pieces of stage out in chunks. And every time you see that, I always tell everybody, that's what standup is. The fact that comics will strike a set just to have a space to go up at, that's standup."
Forthcoming, claims Alonzo, will be "a blue collar Latino family comedy that hopefully will be picked up in the next couple months or so."
You'll be hearing a lot more about Cristela Alonzo.