Rojo Perez came in with an early goal to never rely on being Spanish. “I never wanted anybody to see me and say, ‘oh, that dude is a Spanish comedian.’ The feeling was always, ‘oh, that’s a comedian. And he’s Spanish.'”
Originally from Puerto Rico, Rojo moved to Florida for college where he began his career doing stand-up comedy in clubs and cafés. Since moving to New York City, he’s become a regular in the comedy scene, performing at places such as Caroline’s, UCB East, UCB Chelsea, the Creek and the Cave and the Knitting Factory, among others. He spoke to Moontower about his early influences, his first time on stage and his writing process.
On comedy influences: I remember John Leguizamo‘s one-man shows really resonating with me. I don’t remember how I came across Killin’ Them Softly but I remember I’d watch it on a loop. George Lopez had an early one that was family specific where he was so open about his family and coming up in the struggle. I also remember an Ellen DeGeneres special I saw when I was really young where she ends with a great callback on how God is a woman.
On his first time on stage: I always loved watching stand up. I never thought that was something you could even try to do. I had a friend in college and we would do silly videos and song parodies and stuff like that. He started doing open mics and he invited me once and I was terrible. The first time we went up we went together, he won $50 for best set of the night. So it was the most uncomfortable car ride back home. Where it’s just complete silence and he couldn’t stop smiling.
On starting out in a small town: My last semester I started doing stand up in Florida, between Tampa and Orlando. I was doing it like you would do in a small town where if I got up twice that week I was like, “Man, I am killing it!”
On doing stand-up in New York: I moved to New York so early in my career, I didn’t know any better. You want to be bad around people who are really good. So I think it helped me get better quicker. The acceleration in New York for people to make a turnaround is pretty crazy. It happens quickly and you’re exposed to top tier comedians. You can go see them and watch them for free.
On writing jokes: A lot of times if I’m heading somewhere and I think of something quickly, I’ll use the notepad on my phone and tap down a couple bullet points. Then I’ll try to go the next day and actually sit somewhere and word it out and say it in my head. I also record all my stuff on my phone so I’ll listen to every set. If I don’t do it that night, I’ll do it the next day. Sometimes you need to hear it. On paper I can’t tell when it needs a laugh. It’s very rare that I’ll just have an idea and just go up and try to talk it out.