Rochelle McConico: Teaching for US All

January 9, 2022

Photo Credit

Nkechi Chibueze

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Lara Smith

Listen

We’ve been work­ing hard over the years at Com­e­dy Wham to bring you inter­views, arti­cles, live shows, and a cal­en­dar of events to keep you very, very busy. Our own Valerie Lopez is on the cusp of her 200th inter­view which she will be doing live in a lit­tle over a week. That said, it was just as impor­tant that inter­view 199 be some­one of great val­ue to the local Austin com­e­dy scene. We have to thank our recent Sum­mer Vaca­tion Series guest Nkechi Chibueze for intro­duc­ing us to this VIP who recent­ly moved from New Orleans. Lopez could not con­tain her excite­ment, before and after, prep­ping me that I was real­ly going to love this guest. She wasn’t wrong. 

Born and raised in Austin, Rochelle McConi­co grew up in the pre-gen­tri­fied east­side of Austin. Not aim­ing for the spot­light, McConi­co claims, I nev­er con­sid­ered myself a per­former.” How­ev­er, it seems that enter­tain­ment and per­for­mance kept draw­ing her in. McConi­co reflects, I have a blessed life because I kind of hop from thing to thing, but kind of still find my pat­tern.” After being reject­ed from the­ater in high school and decid­ing that she didn’t have a voice for the singing career she dreamed of, she decid­ed to go to busi­ness school to open a night­club she and a friend had fan­ta­sized about opening. 

I have a blessed life because I kind of hop from thing to thing, but kind of still find my pattern.
Rochelle McConico

Fol­low­ing busi­ness school, the illu­sion of busi­ness own­er was shat­tered by the expec­ta­tion of being in a suit and office. McConi­co piv­ot­ed and found Teach for Amer­i­ca. What was a two-year com­mit­ment, turned into a ten-year career. Her first assign­ment of Detroit was daunt­ing but proved to be the best expe­ri­ence she could’ve asked for. Detroit pre­pared her for the most chal­leng­ing city that would become her heart…New Orleans. That heart is per­haps reflect­ed in her descrip­tion of the cul­ture where “…life is so tough, and yet they make gum­bo out of it. You know, they make love and cul­ture and jazz out of it.” McConi­co seems to car­ry that pos­i­tiv­i­ty with her and sprin­kles it into every­thing she does. 

McConi­co would also teach in New York, Boston, and Hous­ton as she con­tin­ued to teach chil­dren in some of the most chal­leng­ing dis­tricts, where food inse­cu­ri­ty isn’t just real, it’s commonplace. 

There was nev­er an obvi­ous point where Rochelle McConi­co decid­ed to be a come­di­an, but rather through a con­tin­ued desire to reach chil­dren, she land­ed on com­e­dy. Real­iz­ing, after see­ing a friend and fel­low teacher do a show, that if she could use com­e­dy as a way to reach adults, that maybe those same lessons would work their way back into the home. Reach the parents…reach the kids. After a decade of expe­ri­ences in the class­room, she began tak­ing those les­son plans to the stage. But as we all know, per­form­ing as a process and until she had the con­fi­dence to be Rochelle McConi­co on stage, she found her voice in a char­ac­ter, Stan­gela Angela Hemsworth Kings­ley Winthrop Far­rouk Adams III…a name that must be said with flour­ish and helped me meet my word count.

I don’t care what the medium is, I just want to talk to people. I want to talk to people and I want to laugh.
Rochelle McConico

Now con­fi­dent in her own voice (and her ASMR skills), McConi­co uses Stan­gela as an alter-ego and device to make some strong points about the more divi­sive issues going on in the world and our cul­ture today…and it’s hilar­i­ous. But McConi­co doesn’t just share the stage with Stan­gela (I don’t think you’re read­ing it with enough flourish…try again), she also does sketch, act­ing, improv, and has her own pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny, Moon­Crick­et Pro­duc­tions. Why so many hats, you ask? McConi­co is all about con­nect­ing peo­ple and enter­tain­ing peo­ple as she states, I don’t care what the medi­um is, I just want to talk to peo­ple. I want to talk to peo­ple and I want to laugh.” 

And in that con­nect­ing spir­it, Rochelle McConi­co hopes to bridge the gap between the pre-pan­dem­ic Austin com­e­dy scene and the post-pan­dem­ic Austin scene with some of its new arrivals. As some­one who has left the city and returned, her­self, she seems just the per­son for the task. And in that for­ev­er blos­som­ing scene, she hopes to increase the diver­si­ty of the scene for audi­ences as well as comics, offer­ing, All of us are peo­ple going through a human strug­gle, so if we can remem­ber that then there’s a whole bunch we can talk about together.”

For­ev­er the edu­ca­tor, in Novem­ber, McConi­co launched her column/​blog Rochelle Takes on Com­e­dywhere she shares her own expe­ri­ences on and off the stage and offers some advice for come­di­ans and com­e­dy fans alike. She also reviews shows and show­cas­es to give comics and fans an idea of what shows they should be look­ing for in this eclec­tic com­e­dy buf­fet Austin has to offer. In keep­ing with her pos­i­tiv­i­ty, and Com­e­dy Wham’s objec­tive, McConi­co nev­er slags a show, she will only bring you excel­lent rec­om­men­da­tions. The raw vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty she min­gles with humor in her col­umn makes you so open to any advice she has to share. First chil­dren, now adults…with a lit­tle bit of time, McConi­co may just make good humans of us all.

Fol­low Rochelle and her projects:

  • Lysis­tra­ta Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val — New Orleans on March 18 – 20. Fes­ti­val for women to cel­e­brate our com­ic genius in all visu­al for­mats — short films, plays, improv, sketch, standup, etc.

Rochelle can be seen and heard:

  • Skivvies ATX — 1/10/21, 8pm
  • Stand Up at New World Deli — 114
  • Tow­er City Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val — 127 — 130
  • Part of the No Lye Col­lec­tive (NOLA)
  • Writ­ing her recur­ring col­umn on our very own website!
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Rochelle McConico