Rojo Perez: The Smile

June 2, 2017


Valerie Lopez


Lara Smith


Ever meet some­one with a smile so warm and vibrant you feel you must have met before? Well, meet Rojo Perez. That’s exact­ly what this New York com­ic makes you feel like upon first greet­ing. Lucky for us, he was kind enough to carve out some time dur­ing the 2017 Moon­tow­er Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val and record an inter­view with Valerie Lopez.

Born in New York, but return­ing to his parent’s native Puer­to Rico around the age of eight, Rojo Perez says he had a nor­mal, well-adjust­ed child­hood. New York City was becom­ing a rougher place and his par­ents felt they had suc­ceed­ed in liv­ing out their Amer­i­can dream” and were ready to return home. Lit­tle did they know, com­e­dy would one day return Perez to the big city.

Perez grew up watch­ing the come­di­ans of Puer­to Rico, whose careers had longevi­ty, but required many dif­fer­ent facets of media to suc­ceed. Unlike those of the con­ti­nen­tal Unit­ed States, a suc­cess­ful career required a com­ic to wear more hats than just a stand up, such as host­ing a radio or tele­vi­sion show. Very dif­fer­ent from the influ­ences of Amer­i­can come­di­ans, such as John Leguizamo and George Lopez, whose fam­i­ly-cen­tric sto­ry­telling styles spoke to him.

Perez moved to Flori­da, ini­tial­ly to go to col­lege for jour­nal­ism, video edit­ing, and news media. It was there that a friend took him to his first open mic. Like many first com­e­dy attempts, Perez bombed ter­ri­bly, but the con­fi­dence instilled by a good child­hood did not let him quit. Real­iz­ing soon into a news­pa­per intern­ship, jour­nal­ism wasn’t for him, he decid­ed to give com­e­dy his all. Perez decid­ed to go big or go home, return­ing to New York City, arguably doing both.

Perez quick­ly found out how tough a New York audi­ence could be and began putting in the time and work, until his own unique voice evolved. Dis­cov­er­ing his was a sto­ry­telling style, Perez nev­er want­ed to be labeled sole­ly a Span­ish come­di­an.” Doing char­ac­ter work with an exag­ger­at­ed accent didn’t tru­ly reflect the real­i­ty of his own upbring­ing and would’ve felt like a disin­gen­u­ous crutch. Remem­ber the smile I described ear­li­er? It’s the smile of a com­ic that can’t help but be genuine.

Hard work, that beau­ti­ful con­fi­dence, and the acknowl­edge­ment of very sup­port­ive peers have led Rojo Perez to go on and do some incred­i­ble things. He’s done many fes­ti­vals such as Bridgetown, Hell Yes Fest, and Just For Laughs, and while the indus­try expo­sure has been great, Perez cred­its the con­nec­tions fes­ti­vals make to fel­low come­di­ans as some of the most help­ful and influ­en­tial in his suc­cess. Perez has been on MTV’s Decod­ed, Com­e­dy Central’s Fun­ny Cause It’s True, and stars in Mike Brown’s web series Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. Now go lis­ten to our inter­view with Rojo Perez and dis­cov­er the friend you didn’t know you had. Also, be sure to lis­ten for the unex­pect­ed drop in at the end from Sal Vul­cano of Imprac­ti­cal Jok­ers, who will vouch for your new friend.

Rojo Perez