‘All-Stars’ comedian returning home for Saturday show

Gilroy native Rodger Lizaola brings his comedy act Saturday

Don’t expect comedian Rodger Lizaola’s stand-up routine to drown
in race-based jabs and overblown stereotypes. Full article
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Don’t expect comedian Rodger Lizaola’s stand-up routine to drown in race-based jabs and overblown stereotypes.

He may be a member of the Chicano Comedy All-Stars, but you wouldn’t know it by the jokes he tells, he said.

“I’m not one of those dudes that’s like, ‘Hey Latinos, you’re crazy!’ ” Lizaola said.

Gilroy native Lizaola, 32, is returning home Saturday night as part of a Chicano Comedy All-Stars show at 9Lives in Downtown Gilroy. He said he’d be bringing razor sharp observational humor – he carries a little notebook everywhere he goes – as well as off-the-wall jokes such as why he’d buy a kangaroo if he ever won the lottery.

“I’m not a smart person, but I’m very intelligent,” Lizaola said. “Sometimes it just comes into my head and just turns into something funny.”

He added, “I could talk about math problems for 10 minutes and I could still kill.”

The All-Stars lineup often includes Lizaola and comedians Alicia Madrigal, Frankie Quinones, Chris Storin, Butch Escobar and Big Al Gonzales. Long-time fans have been following them for years at shows in San Jose, Stockton and other Northern California cities, producer Gabriel Robles said. He said a rise in the popularity of Hispanic-themed comedy during the past few years paved the way for shows like the All-Stars.

“We started with up-and-coming Chicanos,” Robles said. “It’s crazy. The show sells so good even without some of those names.”

Lizaola’s route to joining the All-Stars was anything but smooth. His love for comedy started at a young age when he watched comedian Paul Rodriguez rattle off jokes on television specials.

“I said, ‘Hey, that dude’s Mexican like me,’ ” Lizaola recalled.

Lizaola, who now lives in San Jose, went to Las Animas Elementary and South Valley Middle schools before attending Gilroy High School “like the rest of those knuckleheads,” he said.

He later dropped out of Gavilan College after two semesters.

On Lizaola’s website, he writes that he grew up “on the mean streets of Gilroy,” though that statement is somewhat “tongue-in-cheek.”

“When I am in the Bay Area, South Bay especially, I’ll rag on Gilroy a little bit.” he said. “But some of my best memories in life are from Gilroy. It’s a good place to grow up.”

In 2003 he moved to Seattle to immerse himself in the city’s underground comedy scene. It was there he participated in his first open-mic night, which Lizaola described as three minutes of exhilaration and terror.

“For the next six months, I bombed five times a week,” he said. “It’s all a learning process. I hit as many open mics as I could and I just got better.”

Several once-struggling comedians were there to help him along the way, too. Lizaola emceed for Louis CK and opened for Mike Epps, and learned secrets and tips on how to improve his stage presence and joke-telling prowess.

That’s a key difference between comedy and other entertainment realms. Lizaola said.

“You wouldn’t see Brad Pitt hanging out with some struggling actors. The Beatles aren’t going to hang out with some garage band,” he said.

Lizaola also said he was excited for Saturday’s show because it would be a big boost to his hometown’s downtown.

“To get stop here and do the 9Lives club, I’m really looking forward to it,” Lizaola said. “We can go anywhere and rock a room.”

Seating for the show begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, with the show slated to begin at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door and can be purchased at ninelivesclub.com.

Chicano Comedy All-Stars

– Saturday at 9Lives, 7430 Monterey Road

– Seating begins at 8 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m.

– Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door

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