Leo Garcia Takes Notice

September 15, 2019

Photo Credit

Phil Lewis

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Valerie Lopez

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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)


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