ESpi Rivadeneira: The Art of the Hustle

March 9, 2019


Valerie Lopez


Valerie Lopez


It’s not often that some­one’s sto­ry moti­vates me to work even hard­er than I do, so that part­ly explains why, in addi­tion to the inter­view, I’ve tak­en pen to paper for this week’s episode with Espi Rivadeneira. Espi’s work eth­ic is unpar­al­leled and it’s not one I’ve come across very often, but it’s not just the work eth­ic: it’s the metic­u­lous study of her time on stage, her atten­tion to set­ting goals (and meet­ing them), that has inspired me to push myself to try to cap­ture her in writ­ten form.

Raised in Niskayu­na in upstate New York, and hav­ing com­plet­ed a degree in 3 lan­guages, Rivadeneira’s ener­gy and dri­ve are part of her genet­ic make­up, as they are of her hard-work­ing par­ents. The par­en­t’s migrat­ed to Austin and she fol­lowed suit in 2015, not aware of her bright future on the stages of Austin.

What sur­pris­es me is that Rivadeneira describes her­self as painful­ly shy, but she’s a full-time teacher and she hosts Fierce Mild, the long-run­ning open mic at The Vol­stead, and recent­ly launched Bone Rat­tle, a month­ly show­case. The last 2 are admirable accom­plish­ments for any­one to have reached, but have we men­tioned that Rivadeneira has only been doing standup since Jan­u­ary 4, 2018? (She knows the pre­cise date, because, of course she does). And, that at the time of our record­ing, she had logged just shy of 500 open mic and show appear­ances? In ONE YEAR. To which she says I feel like when I do some­thing, I kind of go all in,” when I ask about her moti­va­tion to be so driven.

I feel like when I do some­thing, I kind of go all in.” Espi Rivadeneira

And that brings us to anoth­er rea­son why I am writ­ing this arti­cle. Com­e­dy Wham loves to cel­e­brate the com­ic no mat­ter the path they’ve tak­en to get them to the point where we sit down with them, but I’ve watched Espi over the last year and it’s not just that she’s worked incred­i­bly hard at get­ting bet­ter, but the com­mu­ni­ty has tak­en notice and every­one wants her on their show. We get excit­ed when we see some­one mak­ing an impact, and I’ve gen­uine­ly been excit­ed by what Espi has accom­plished over the last year and I was hop­ing that my writ­ten excite­ment would com­ple­ment my ver­bal excite­ment con­veyed in the inter­view. And because I rec­og­nized that dri­ve in myself, it was easy to kid around with Rivadeneira with some pre­dic­tions dur­ing our con­ver­sa­tion. This is my not-so-sub­tle ploy for you to lis­ten to the interview.

And I haven’t even got­ten to men­tion anoth­er remark­able tal­ent that Rivadeneira pos­sess­es. While she didn’t pur­sue art in an offi­cial capac­i­ty in school, Rivadeneira has remained root­ed to the cre­ation of art as a means of release. What’s beau­ti­ful about this is it gives an added dimen­sion to the per­son you see on stage, who most cer­tain­ly does­n’t give off the impres­sion that there is a dark and brood­ing pres­ence lurk­ing. It’s a dual­i­ty that impress­es me — the same hand and ink used to write jokes for audi­ences is the same hand and ink used to draw mov­ing images that evoke a feel­ing that she knows us. We all live a dual­i­ty, car­ry­ing on as a pos­i­tive and upbeat indi­vid­ual to some, but car­ry­ing dark­ness at the same time. That’s what has allowed Espi to con­nect with audi­ences both when she shares her art as well as when she comes on stage to talk about her life. 

I’m not old but I know that life goes by real­ly fast and I think it’s cool that I am a per­former in Austin and I get to do all these cool things” Espi Rivadeneira

Lucky for us, we’ll have lots of oppor­tu­ni­ties to see both, though we’ll see her on stage more fre­quent­ly than we’ll see her cre­ate new art. She’s got her sights set on achiev­ing 1000 open mics and shows in about a year’s time. When asked about whether a change in pace would ever hap­pen, Espi shared I’m not old but I know that life goes by real­ly fast and I think it’s cool that I am a per­former in Austin and I get to do all these cool things.” And we’re so hap­py that we get to watch her do it!

Catch Espi Rivadeneira at her upcom­ing and ongo­ing shows:

  • The month­ly show­case Bone Rat­tle at The Vol­stead
  • March 12th, in a show­case at Spokesman
  • March 14th, in the Cig­ar Vault show in Buda
Espi Rivadenera