Rojo Perez: We Laugh Together

May 25, 2022

Photo Credit

Scott Johnson


Valerie Lopez


Lara Smith

2022 Moontower Just For Laughs Comedy Festival Series

The Moontower Comedy Festival has returned in 2022 under the umbrella of Just For Laughs and blessed us with 10 days of comedy, film, live podcast, and afterparties. Comedy Wham is featuring our favorite conversations from this year's festival. Enjoy!

It’s always spe­cial when you get to sit down with a guest again and real­ly catch up rather than just get acquaint­ed. It’s espe­cial­ly nice when that guest is indeli­bly tied to such won­der­ful mem­o­ries. For me that guest is Rojo Perez. He is such an inte­gral part of my ear­ly Moon­tow­er Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val expe­ri­ences and mem­o­ries, as well as one of our first inter­view guests from the fes­ti­val. But enough about me! Five years after our first inter­view with Perez, we reunit­ed at the Driskill Bar to find out how he’s changed.

Here’s the remark­able thing about Rojo Perez, though … he hasn’t changed. Grown, yes … evolved, absolute­ly, but at his core Perez is still the warm, kind, true-to-him­self come­di­an that Com­e­dy Wham fell in love with five years ago. Now, about that evolution.

I think I’ve gotten much more comfortable in trusting what I think is funny is funny.
Rojo Perez

When we sat down with Perez five years ago, he was ten years into com­e­dy and very self-aware about his com­e­dy and what he want­ed. He had done Just For Laughs and had sev­er­al tele­vi­sion cred­its already, but he was much more struc­tured in his word-for-word writ­ing process. He also jok­ing­ly gave out his phone num­ber on the pod­cast for gigs. Today, fif­teen years into the busi­ness, we find him a lit­tle more relaxed in his process, and he’s keep­ing that phone num­ber a lit­tle clos­er to the vest. Perez says, I think I’ve got­ten much more com­fort­able in trust­ing [that] what I think is fun­ny is funny.”

Not long after that Moon­tow­er in 2017, Perez start­ed tour­ing with Tone Bell and soon late-night tele­vi­sion came call­ing. Four months after we inter­viewed him, he got the call from TBSConan. I dis­tinct­ly remem­ber watch­ing his set like a proud cousin; he killed it. He also did the won­der­ful spe­cial HBO’s Entre Nos: Spot On, which is a must-see (proud cousin again). 

Perez was actu­al­ly get­ting quite busy just as the world was forced to take a break. The pan­dem­ic slowed every­thing to a halt in New York City, where Perez is still based. The come­di­an took advan­tage of the break, though (with the excep­tion of some online shows), return­ing to his fam­i­ly in Puer­to Rico. Despite the trag­ic cir­cum­stances, the time home was a much-need­ed respite from the rat-race” that his busy indus­try career had become. Not even aware how need­ed the hia­tus was, Perez returned refreshed with a lighter voice in his writing. 

That break also taught Perez how to be selec­tive in say­ing yes and how to bet­ter nav­i­gate the rat-race” to main­tain joy in his work. One of those yeses” came in the form of his debut album Words, a hilar­i­ous win­dow into his life, fam­i­ly, and Ben­ny (you just have to lis­ten). Anoth­er major yes came in 2021, when net­work tele­vi­sion called. Perez was the first com­ic back in-stu­dio fol­low­ing the pan­dem­ic shut­down for The Tonight Show Star­ring Jim­my Fal­lon. Back from his break and and already armed with expe­ri­ence in late-night tele­vi­sion, Perez brought a more relaxed pres­ence to the show. The result is some­thing you need to lis­ten to Valerie’s inter­view to hear for your­self; I got chills.

You’re not gonna hear me do accents. We laugh, we laugh together, we’re not laughing at.
Rojo Perez

While Perez no longer writes all his sets down, he does focus on the nuance of his per­for­mance and how very sub­tle changes in body lan­guage and pac­ing can land a joke so dif­fer­ent­ly. Hear­ing these nuances described remind­ed me of why I love com­e­dy, and even more, why I love hear­ing come­di­ans dis­cuss the art­form. Rojo Perez has evolved to that next lev­el where he can ana­lyze a set and tell you exact­ly what hits, what doesn’t, and why … that’s what I’m talk­ing about.

We’ve talked about the evo­lu­tion of Rojo Perez, but remem­ber how I said he hasn’t changed? Perez still main­tains at his core that while he is a proud Puer­to Rican and wears it more on his sleeve, he will nev­er trade that cul­ture for cheap laughs. Perez main­tains, You’re not gonna hear me do accents. We laugh; we laugh togeth­er; we’re not laugh­ing at.” While he doesn’t avoid his her­itage on stage, Perez adds, I think I’ve got­ten much more com­fort­able in my skin, so I know how to talk about it now. I know exact­ly what I’m try­ing to put for­ward.” He’s true to him­self, and that’s why we love Rojo Perez. Lis­ten to our inter­view now to fall in love with him for your­self, and don’t for­get to lis­ten to his album Words, now avail­able on all stream­ing platforms.

Fol­low Rojo

Rojo can be seen and heard:

  • Album — Words (2021)
  • TV Appear­ances
    • Conan
    • Late Night with Jim­my Fallon
    • HBO’s Entre Nos
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Rojo Perez