Vanessa Gonzalez: Mas Vanessa

January 18, 2019

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Richard Goodwin

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It’s always great to sit down again with an old friend, and this week’s guest, Vanessa Gonzalez, is one of our favorites. Almost 3 years ago, she was one of Valerie Lopez’s first interviews, and to say a lot has happened in Gonzalez’s life in the intervening time is an understatement.

Sitting at the wonderful Cherrywood Coffeehouse, Gonzalez opens up about how her world has changed, in the days before she tapes her first ever Comedy Central special in New Orleans on February 1st. I saw Gonzalez for the first time a couple of years ago, and, from the outside, you might think that things are business as usual for her. That night, she bounded onto the stage, full of energy, sharing tales of dating and Schlitterbahn to practically non-stop laughter. When I saw her recently again at Cap City Comedy, the material was all new, but the same self exploration and razor wit was on full display.

Peel back the covers a little, and you’ll find that--behind that consistent exterior--Gonzalez has had quite a lot of personal transformation. She shares with Valerie how she’s reconciled feelings about her body image and professional readiness, to open herself up to opportunities she might otherwise have waited on. Gonzalez notes, “I feel like I've definitely learned that in the past year of ... being comfortable with who I am and not letting my insecurities stop me.” A change of scene also occurred about a year ago, with Gonzalez making the “comedy migration” to Los Angeles. She’s happy to report the scene there, including a lot of former Austin performers, is welcoming and has made what could be a tense transition quite a bit easier.

“I feel like I've definitely learned that in the past year of ... being comfortable with who I am and not letting my insecurities stop me.” Vanessa Gonzalez

Beyond the Comedy Central special, Gonzalez has continued to rack up performing credits and appearances. She received a great reception as one of the “New Faces” at the 2017 Montreal Just for Laughs festival, and created and starred in the web series Ms. Vanessa on the Lorne Michaels-based video property Mas Mejor. It’s hard not to catch glimpses of the “real” Gonzalez in her role in the shorts; both are making their way through life with the occasional stumble, with their enormous hearts on full display on their sleeves.

With a history in sketch and improv, it’s not surprising to hear that Gonzalez loves the writing part of the comedy discipline as much as the delivery. "I would love to, you know, write and act in my own show...keep telling my stories," she says. She has a writing partner, James Hamilton, a longtime friend who she says “really knows her voice”, but isn’t going to wince in the face of honest feedback or bits that didn’t test out in performance.

"I would love to, you know, write and act in my own show...keep telling my stories." Vanessa Gonzalez

Putting all these elements together paints a picture of someone headed for prime [time] exposure in a sitcom, and Gonzalez confirms she’d love to see something happen for her in that medium. (For posterity, we’ll note that Valerie bets this is going to happen, so we’re going to boldly, proactively, say “You heard it here first!”.)

LA remains an extremely competitive scene, but Gonzalez continues to build her profile, including the recent taping of a mini-special for HBO Latino, scheduled for release this year. Of course, no comedy portfolio is complete these days without a podcast, and Gonzalez confirms she’s exploring that idea as well, with longtime friend and “improv soulmate for life” Michael Foulk.

In our first talk with Gonzalez, her answers to Valerie’s signature “one word [past/future]” icebreaker questions were “learning”, and “happy”. I won’t give away how she sees her past and future now; the reveal is best experienced in listening to the interview. I will say that her attitude then definitely informs the success and growth she’s since experienced, and how it sets the stage for even more to come.

And, when you see Vanessa Gonzalez on the small/medium/big screen remember, you heard it here first.

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