Leo Garcia Takes Notice

September 15, 2019

Photo Credit

Phil Lewis

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Valerie Lopez


It's rare to meet a comic who asks "why did you pick me" for an interview. In fact, in the over 130 interviews I've done, no comic has ever asked me that. But Leo Garcia asked me that up front before the mics were on. And not in that coy, "I'm going to play dumb and ask why" way that suggests he's fishing for compliments, but in a genuine "I don't understand why someone would want to talk to me about me doing comedy because I'm still getting used to wearing this uniform" way. Despite a facility with comedy and storytelling on stage, when Garcia sits down with me, he is quick to point out that he really likes to fly below the radar and shares countless examples of situations where he was in settings where he studied how others lived, worked, played all with a careful effort to not being noticed. Most interesting of all is the mental calculus he performed in school to ensure that he did just the right levels of homework to graduate rated in the precise middle of the class - not too high (too much pressure) and not too low (too much negative attention).

And so, I've made an editorial decision to not talk too much about Garcia's comedy, but instead, point to a story that he shares regarding Rage Against the Machine and their contribution to the 1998 Godzilla film soundtrack. Not just because Garcia and I are both fans of RATM, but because the story will illustrate something about Garcia's personal creed that we can illustrate without shining the spotlight on Garcia himself. The tale is that RATM was contractually obligated to make a song and video for the soundtrack, but RATM being who they are, had to make a dig at the studio industry that wanted a whitewashed, consumer-friendly song to pair with its major studio production. The song makes no mention of the mighty Godzilla monster or its plight to save the people of earth, and the video makes some subtle and not so subtle social commentary ranging from wrongful imprisonment to imperialism to brainwashing to chronic poverty. So, if you're one of the rare types who buys a movie soundtrack and you think you're about to enjoy a "hell yeah, let's fight" compilation, you'd have to scratch well beneath the surface to catch all of the social commentary that RATM is throwing your way. And that to me, captures the essence of Leo Garcia. You think you're going to see a comic who's going to talk about drinking and having fun, and you may well get to hear those types of stories from him, but, he's also going to lob a fair dose of social commentary your way. You will still come away from a live performance saying "hell yeah, he's hilarious", but if you let his performance settle into your brain, you're going to realize that social justice and inequalities are very important elements to his comedy. Pointing these things out to you in a glossy and fun package, naturally, so that it's easier to make the leap to thinking about how some in our society are not treated equally. Garcia challenges us to consider our ability to right some of society's wrongs. In this way, I anoint Garcia, one of the vanguards in terms of raising the social conscience of the Austin comedy scene. Ok, now I'll turn the spotlight back to Garcia. Raised in a small, rural central Texas town, he began his start in comedy in college and then became involved in the growing San Marcos comedy scene. Having moved to Austin in the last few years, it wouldn't be surprising if you didn't know much about Garcia. He assures us: "I love my family. And I'm sorry, to the whole community for never going out and wanting to hang out." He may miss out on social interactions, but he is mission-driven - family comes first, then comedy. And he's prideful, oh so prideful and realizes the price he's had to pay for that. When reflecting on his 8-year journey with comedy and the accomplishments he's had so far, he says "So it's taken me a long time to get to this point. I don't know, eight years. Maybe that's not long. But I think it could have been sped up if I weren't so prideful." But as more opportunities come his way, maybe some of that pride will ease up.

"I love my family. And I'm sorry, to the whole community for never going out and wanting to hang out." Leo Garcia

Meanwhile, he's going to continue to push himself to be a better performer. To that end, throwing axes has been incredibly helpful to teaching him how to be a better host, for his own Mixtape showcase and the co-hosted First Tuesdays Comedy at Radio Coffee. Festivals are also starting to take notice of Garcia. In September alone, Garcia performed for Out of Bounds Comedy Festival and at the end of the month, he'll be performing for Altercation Festival. These are notable achievements as they are 2 very different festivals stylistically which means, curators are taking note of his broad appeal.

"So it's taken me a long time to get to this point. I don't know, eight years. Maybe that's not long. But I think it could have been sped up if I weren't so prideful." Leo Garcia

And as long as he continues to create the intelligent, subversive style of comedy, I think we should all applaud the achievements of 2019 and what lies ahead for him. But not too loudly, he's not quite ready to be the total center of attention.

Leo can be seen performing at:
  • Mixtape - hosting a showcase/ music video commentary show. Friday September 20 8pm at Fallout Theater
  • First Tuesdays Comedy - co-hosting a monthly showcase every 1st Tuesday of the month with Trace Holt at 9pm Radio Coffee and Beer
  • Mindbend - Wednesday September 25 at the Townsend
  • Altercation Festival - Saturday September 28 for Holy Brunch, 11am at Kickbutt Coffee (badges/day pass required)

Leo Garcia