George Lopez has tackled the late night realm on television, and is bringing a quick wit and humor that ranges far beyond his Latino roots.
From the Print Edition:
George Lopez, January/February 2010
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“Look, race has always had a huge place in humor and in drama,” Lopez says. “Anybody who is anybody—from Richard Pryor to Chris Rock to Cheech & Chong—has had an agenda. Bill Cosby once said, ‘I don’t know what the secret to success is but I do know the secret to failure: trying to please everybody.’ ”
The key to Lopez’s humor is his empathy for human foibles. “One thing that stands out is his ability to witness things the average person wouldn’t pick up on and find humor in them,” Marc Anthony says. “He studies the nuances of life and the crazy shit that people do. He’s aware of life constantly going on around him.”
Paratore recalls running into Lopez in Chicago in Neiman-Marcus’s men’s store a few years ago, when Paratore was working in syndication and Lopez was in town to perform.
“That night at the show, he did 10 minutes on a funny guy in the shoe department,” Paratore says.
During more than 30 years as a stand-up comedian and actor, Lopez has worked in the solitary manner of most comics: writing material by himself, trying it out onstage, refining it through repeated performances to find out where the laugh is and how to get it reliably. But the talk show demands four fresh monologues a week, most of them running eight to 10 minutes at the top of the show.
It’s a massive amount of new material on a daily and weekly basis. But Lopez is famous for going full-out in his stand-up routine; as a headliner, he doesn’t feel as though he’s given an audience its money’s worth until he has been on at least 70 minutes, as he noted in his autobiography, Why You Crying? Still, the nightly monologue is a daily source of pressure on Lopez and the team of writers he’s assembled.
“I have them writing the structure of the monologue and then I add the flavor,” Lopez says. “It does change my own stand-up. We’re always going over it, after the show, first thing in the morning. Essentially, those guys write a bunch of jokes that aren’t connected. I make it smooth.”
“It feels like watching a great comedian at work when he does that nightly monologue,” says TBS’s Wright.
It’s markedly different from writing “George Lopez,” the popular sitcom in which he starred for five seasons and which still airs in syndication.
“The sitcom was about spending five days rehearsing a 22-minute show,” Lopez says. “This is about writing that hour for tonight, doing it and having it be gone. It keeps the moment fresh and connected, knowing you’re running against the clock. I’m up early every morning. I’m not going to be sleeping until 10 with this show; I’m not even sleeping until eight.”
By now, Lopez’s history is well-known to his fans, who have watched him turn an early life of hardship and poverty into a comedy act that draws on his own experiences: abandoned by his father before his first birthday and his mother by his 10th, reared by a strict, unaffectionate grandmother whose tough-love approach left the young George bereft of self-esteem. Finding an outlet in stand-up comedy, he struggled for almost a decade, finding breaks where he could get them.
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Eric Walker — Charlston , WV, USA, — August 30, 2011 8:49am ET
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