Roxy Castillo Shines Her Light

November 17, 2021

Photo Credit

Roxy Castillo

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Sara Cline

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Here at Com­e­dy Wham, we’ve told many iter­a­tions of the same shared tale: A lost and wan­der­ing soul dis­cov­ers com­e­dy and, like Rapun­zel croons in Tan­gled, At last [they] see the light / And it’s like a fog has lift­ed.” Or, if Disney’s not your thing, the soul escapes the alle­gor­i­cal cave of unfun­ni­ness and becomes enlight­ened, à la Pla­to. After that, they pour their every­thing into stand-up and nev­er look back. This is not one of those sto­ries. See, when you’re as mul­ti­tal­ent­ed as Roxy Castil­lo, com­e­dy in itself just ain’t enough to hold all your inter­est or your shine.

Don’t get me wrong, Castillo’s sto­ry starts out pret­ty sim­i­lar to that com­e­dy ori­gin sto­ry we all know and love. As a wee lass grow­ing up in Den­ver, Castil­lo recalls being a class clown of sorts: “… [I]t was­n’t like I was mak­ing jokes, but I was always fear­less in being out­ra­geous. … I nev­er cared what I wore. Every­thing was always mis­matched … But I dance to the beat of my own drum.” Then, y’know, mid­dle school hap­pened (as it does, to the best of us) amidst a move to the sub­urbs and damp­ened her spir­it a bit, fol­lowed by a Stoned Age,” if you will, dur­ing high school. It wasn’t until col­lege that she got a real taste of com­e­dy, in the form of a com­e­dy class that taught improv, sketch, and stand-up.

It wasn't like I was making jokes, but I was always fearless in being outrageous.
Roxy Castillo

Com­e­dy — espe­cial­ly the improv and sketch vari­eties — felt like just the com­mu­ni­ty that Castil­lo had been crav­ing. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Castil­lo audi­tioned and land­ed a cov­et­ed spot in the class’s end-of-semes­ter show­case Scared Script­less. That left a pret­ty pleas­ant taste in her mouth too. Ven­tur­ing into real world mics as part of her home­work, Castil­lo felt gid­dy; she had found some­thing she was good at. And good at it she was: She seam­less­ly glid­ed into the scene, even open­ing for Jo Koy at the Den­ver Improv.

Sounds pret­ty peachy, yeah? Are you wait­ing for the prover­bial shoe (or mic) to drop? You’d be right. When Castil­lo moved to Austin, she didn’t slip into the com­e­dy scene quite as eas­i­ly. It was requir­ing a lot more elbow grease. She had resolved not to date or shack up with any come­di­ans, but her resul­tant stand­off­ish­ness was hurt­ing her chances of get­ting booked. For­tu­nate­ly, Castil­lo quick­ly befriend­ed sev­er­al ladies in the scene who helped facil­i­tate her inte­gra­tion — includ­ing Lashon­da Lester and Mag­gie Maye, who became her com­e­dy big sis­ters. I was kind of their, like, lit­tle tag along … I always saw myself like junior var­si­ty to every­body’s var­si­ty,” Castil­lo remarks.

For bet­ter or worse, this junior var­si­ty men­tal­i­ty cre­at­ed a hum­bling feed­back loop. She avoid­ed ask­ing to do shows because she felt intim­i­dat­ed by these old­er var­si­ty” come­di­ans. But then when she didn’t get oppor­tu­ni­ties, she felt less than. For so long, I was like, I’m not wor­thy because I’ve nev­er been a final­ist. I’m not wor­thy because I’ve nev­er done this show,’” Castil­lo explains. Amidst all of that, she was also jug­gling a jam-packed cal­en­dar filled with all her oth­er cre­ative out­lets. Guilti­ly, she won­dered if she’d see more suc­cess if she fun­neled all her efforts into just one thing.

The thing that I want isn't an audience clapping, it's just, I like shining my light.
Roxy Castillo

But, you see, Roxy Castil­lo was not just one thing. In addi­tion to stand-up, she was a bur­lesque dancer — an art form she stum­bled upon rather inci­den­tal­ly but that had a pow­er­ful pull on her time. (After all, beau­ti­ful, sup­port­ive women are much bet­ter com­pa­ny than com­pet­i­tive male comics.) On top of that, she was part of a week­ly sketch show called Bad Exam­ple. Then, just for good mea­sure, she threw wrestling into the mix. I lived and died by my cal­en­dar,” Castil­lo recalls of this whirl­wind time. She just couldn’t say no to an oppor­tu­ni­ty. She want­ed to do it all.

With the onset of the pan­dem­ic, Castil­lo final­ly had time to sit and reflect. She real­ized how tired she was, how her per­son­al life and health had been suf­fer­ing. Don’t get her wrong, she’d had a blast, but it was time to start say­ing no and to put hard bound­aries on her time. I’m not just a per­former,” Castil­lo asserts. “… I need to fill my per­son­al cup up before I can pour into all of these dif­fer­ent things that I enjoy.” Besides, she’s come to find that she doesn’t need to stand-up or bur­lesque all the time to val­i­date her cre­ativ­i­ty or fun­ni­ness. I’m always gonna find a way to per­form at work,” she rea­sons. Like I can do train­ing at work. I can be in front of peo­ple. I can teach … [T]he thing that I want isn’t an audi­ence clap­ping, it’s just, I like shin­ing my light.”

So, as it turns out, Roxy Castillo’s At last I see the light” moment — whether you see her as Rapun­zel or Plato’s enlight­ened cave dweller — wasn’t from dis­cov­er­ing com­e­dy. Instead, it was dis­cov­er­ing that the light was with­in her all along. (Aww.) We hope to see Castil­lo con­tin­ue to shine her light in what­ev­er pur­suits she fan­cies (even if her new cal­en­dar bound­aries mean that we’ll see her a lit­tle less frequently).

Fol­low Roxy

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Roxy Castillo