|Photo Credit||Jinni J|
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.”
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”
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