This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with Felipe Esparza.
Felipe Esparza, performing at Treasure Island February 23, got his start as a comedian because someone asked him to list five goals in life. During a stint in rehab before he was 21, Felipe was asked what he wanted out of life. As a young immigrant growing up in the projects in Boyle Heights (East L.A.) and then as a teenage father with a drug and alcohol problem, it was a difficult task because he had never thought that far ahead.
Among the items on that list: “to be happy” and “be a stand-up comedian” – because of how he connected to an old Bill Cosby album when he was younger. Up until that question, Felipe was under the impression that life was over at 18.
From being raised in the projects in a family of nine living in the most gang-infested neighborhood in the country to winning NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” to selling out live comedy shows all over the country and being able to act in TV shows and movies, Esparza’s life has been anything but boring.
He worked for years as a stand-up comedian, opening on the road for fellow comedians such as Gabriel Iglesias and Paul Rodriguez, then took a leap of faith and went out on his own – which led to very little income and opportunity at first.
After the 16-year “overnight success” of winning “Last Comic Standing,” Esparza went on to produce his first hour long stand-up comedy special, “They’re Not Gonna Laugh at You” (now on Netflix).
Today, in addition to his live stand-up touring, Felipe hosts a weekly podcast on the All Things Comedy Network called “What’s Up Fool?” that focuses on interesting stories from just about anybody.