Josh Castro: Analyzing It All

March 3, 2020

Photo Credit

Josh Castro

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Scott Sticker

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Josh Castro is always sizing up the situation. Standing quietly at the back of an open mic or showcase, he watches the audience like a hawk, noting what’s hitting and what’s not.

Castro hits the stage as a warm, inviting smile naturally crawls across his face. He looks like he was born with that smile just as much as he was born for the stage.

Growing up in “gang culture and negativity” in “one of the poorest districts in the nation,” inside of El Paso, Castro had to use comedy to get through. “The only way to cope was humor,” he said. “Comedy has always been part of my life, I just didn’t know how to apply it.”

Comedy has always been part of my life, I just didn’t know how to apply it.
Josh Castro

With degrees in psychology and criminology and a master’s in human services, it’s no wonder Castro is so good at reading audiences. When he moved from San Antonio to Austin and started comedy in earnest nine years ago, he took the time to study the crowds and the comics. He quickly picked up on what worked in Austin vs. San Antonio vs. his hometown of El Paso.

Castro married that analytical nature with his unique background to create relatable hilarity. His jokes and warm nature were already like a magnet for most, but for anyone who shared aspects of his background, things were automatically elevated.

“No matter where I’ve gone there’s always somebody who can relate to my story … they get the culture, get the references,” Castro said. “I remember this from back home so I’m trying to make a joke out of it, but someone from here to California can relate because we’re all from the border.”

No matter where I’ve gone there’s always somebody who can relate to my story…
Josh Castro

That inherent connection is what led Castro to start his show BorderLaughs Comedy Show. BorderLaughs brings together comics who grew up on the border to tell their stories and experiences from that life.

As a kid, late-night channel surfing led Castro to Que Locos!, a standup show rooted in Hispanic history started by Mike Robles. With Spanish punchlines and jokes that felt like these comics had been watching his life, Castro had finally found something that spoke to his background and his culture. It was hilarious and relatable and he felt like it was just for him.

Castro held on to that cultural relatability, pushing him to inject his own background into his sets and any show that he produced. That’s one of the main reasons he started BorderLaughs Comedy Show, he said, to “take those experiences and take those things that people grew up with … and make it relatable for everybody and have common ground.”

Castro wants comics to share their raw and personal experiences on these shows. He knows that the things that these now-comics attempted to understand or deflect with humor as they grew up in these situations can draw a crowd closer and make it feel like they get them.

I would like to be the beacon here for Latinos to come here and perform and get to know the scene as well.
Josh Castro

Unlike many comics who are notoriously bad at the “business side” of comedy, Castro is a natural promoter. Within minutes of Valerie’s interview, he had already plugged his website, showcase, and Instagram. When he mentions the venue his show is at, he actually says the address out loud.

One can quickly extrapolate that this marketing prowess emerged from Castro’s analytical nature. Through tons of trial and error, he’s found the best angle for who, what, where, when, and how, to target (sometimes it’s everyone, everywhere, all the time, any way possible). And it’s paid off too: Castro has a solid show featuring hilarious comics from varied border backgrounds.

Castro’s not planning to rest on this success though. He’s using it to activate a rising tide to help others’ boats float to the top.

“I’m going to continue to work,” he said. “I would like to be the beacon here for Latinos to come here and perform and get to know the scene as well.”

Josh can be seen:

  • Downtown Comedy Night - Showcase on Sunday March 8th at Halcyon 218 W. 4th Street, Austin TX 78701.
  • Borderlaughs Comedy Show - Host and Producer of this monthly showcase on Thursday March 12th at Santa Cruz Theater 1807 E. 7th Street, Austin TX 78702
  • Comedy Night - Headlining on Thursday March 19th at Sky Hookah Lounge 1100 Grand Ave Pwy. Pflugerville TX


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