Sam Lopez: Frequent Flyer Smiles

March 17, 2024

Photo Credit

Dulce Mac


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


The road to com­e­dy suc­cess can be long, span­ning years, states, and — in the case of this week’s guest — con­ti­nents. Sam Lopez, glo­be­trot­ter, co-host of Bot­tom of the Bar­rel (every Tues­day night at Com­e­dy Moth­er­ship) and cre­ator of the new Celebri­ty Guest Com­e­dy Show (at Black Rab­bit) sat down with Valerie Lopez to talk about how she’s land­ed a place in the Austin com­e­dy scene. (Pre­sum­ably after a very, very, long flight.)

(In the same spir­it of being out-and-about, this week’s episode was record­ed at Fall­out Theatre’s pod­cast stu­dio, with gra­cious help from Gar­rett Buss. Nev­er fear, Valerie will return soon to her home base and 1‑to‑2 cats.)

Before embark­ing full-time on a comedic career, Lopez was on the precipice of join­ing the Peace Corps with a two year assign­ment to teach Eng­lish in Malawi, Africa. Orig­i­nal­ly from Mary­land, after com­plet­ing a nan­ny­ing assign­ment in Aus­tralia, her home base at the time was Auck­land, New Zealand. The itch to per­form spread rapid­ly after her first open mic. 

Most famous­ly known for being the birth­place of hob­bits and Flight of the Con­chords, New Zealand is not oth­er­wise regard­ed as an excit­ing com­e­dy incu­ba­tor; while the trek to edu­cate in anoth­er coun­try held the promise of per­son­al reward, it also meant a 2 year com­mit­ment away from the stage, even if Auck­land’s com­e­dy scene could only promise one to two open mics per month.

I don't know if I would be any good if I didn't have that kind of competition.
Sam Lopez

Lopez would, indeed, miss the rains down in Africa (edi­to­r­i­al note by Valerie: thanks for the ear­worm, Richard), choos­ing instead to board a plane to Hawaii, fol­lowed by a move to San Diego to focus on build­ing her comedic chops. It was there in 2016 that she met her now-hus­band, come­di­an Der­ic Pos­ton. The rela­tion­ship not only fig­ures promi­nent­ly into Lopez’s mate­r­i­al, but acts as a moti­va­tor as well. I don’t know if I would be any good if I did­n’t have that kind of com­pe­ti­tion,” she says of being in a two-com­ic house, admit­ting I’m very com­pet­i­tive, but if the com­pe­ti­tion is not, like, in my face, I can talk myself out of it.”

Beyond pro­vid­ing a life part­ner, San Diego also offered the oppor­tu­ni­ty to per­form in a larg­er com­e­dy scene (with stage time every night, if desired), and had the bonus of a (rel­a­tive­ly, for our globe-trot­ting guest) short trip to Los Ange­les for shows. 

The vari­ety of stages avail­able in Cal­i­for­nia played well to Lopez’s desire to be exposed to new expe­ri­ences, and expand her own comedic reper­toire. It’s a feel­ing that still sneaks up on her: When­ev­er I have a joke that does­n’t sound like my oth­er jokes, I get real­ly excited…this isn’t like the same brand, or this is kind of weird for me.” Part of Lopez’s charm is dis­arm­ing an audi­ence with pre­sent­ing a decid­ed­ly sweet demeanor with a healthy dose of naughty twists. 

Whenever I have a joke that doesn't sound like my other jokes, I get really excited…this isn't like the same brand or this is kind of weird for me
Sam Lopez

Per­form­ing and liv­ing in Los Ange­les became the goal for the ambi­tious com­e­dy duo of Lopez and Pos­ton. After what was expect­ed to be a per­ma­nent move to LA, car­less Lopez was armed with a map and pub­lic trans­porta­tion so she could hit as many places as time (and wal­let) allowed.

Then came COVID.

Lopez and Pos­ton rode it out for 6 months into the nation­wide shut­down, even­tu­al­ly decid­ing that it was time for a move. Most of the new” big names like Com­e­dy Moth­er­ship and Joe Rogan had yet to bring a renewed spot­light to Austin. Tired of mov­ing from one fam­i­ly mem­ber res­i­dence to anoth­er to save mon­ey, they decid­ed to head to Texas and have been Austin res­i­dents since 2021. Feel­ing like trend­set­ters, they’ve watched count­less friends and col­leagues move to, fro, and often back-to the city as the revi­tal­ized com­e­dy scene’s rep­u­ta­tion has grown.

To the appar­ent cha­grin of her moth­er, Lopez’s own rep­u­ta­tion has also con­tin­ued to grow, mean­ing her future will most def­i­nite­ly be in com­e­dy. Co-host­ing a show like Bot­tom of the Bar­rel, where the order of the day is to riff unprompt­ed on mate­r­i­al ran­dom­ly pulled from a (yes) bar­rel, pos­es a unique but reward­ing chal­lenge for her. I’m very plan ori­ent­ed,” Lopez says, so hav­ing to go up with noth­ing, it’s good for my con­fi­dence.”

Short­ly before this inter­view, Lopez kicked off Celebri­ty Guest Com­e­dy Show, which launched its run at Black Rab­bit Under­ground Com­e­dy. The plan was to draw peo­ple in with the allure of a mys­tery spe­cial guest. I had kind of toyed with the idea of doing like, a Sam Lopez and Friends,” but jokes that she decid­ed against it since no one knows who I am.” It’s a great room, max­ing out at about 50 peo­ple, giv­ing an inti­mate vibe and bring­ing audi­ence and per­form­ers togeth­er. Lopez hopes that the show will run month­ly mov­ing for­ward, and we’ve got our fin­gers crossed. We also know that peo­ple def­i­nite­ly know who Sam Lopez is.

Case in point: Beyond show-run­ning, Lopez is also sched­uled for this year’s Moon­tow­er Just For Laughs fes­ti­val. When a performer’s arc reach­es this point, we would his­tor­i­cal­ly be primed to ask: so when are you mov­ing to [one of the coasts’]?” Thank­ful­ly, Lopez quick­ly puts the brakes on that kind of talk. I think Austin’s a real­ly good place to be a com­ic,” she says, and a city that wel­comes build­ing a fam­i­ly. Of course, it’s also a tran­sit hub, with Lopez quick­ly adding: It’s eas­i­er to fly to the East and West coast from here, ver­sus being on one side or the oth­er”.

For a com­ic who seemed to set foot on most major land­mass­es on her way to us, it’s grat­i­fy­ing to know that we can expect more of Sam Lopez in our (local) future. This is the only place in the coun­try I can imag­ine hav­ing a fam­i­ly and doing standup,” she assures Valerie. We hope Austin con­tin­ues to be home for Lopez for a long time to come.

Some­body hide her pass­port, though. Just in case.

Fol­low Sam

Sam can be seen and heard:

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Sam Lopez