Interview With Comedian Monique Marvez
Since starting out in stand-up comedy back in 1990, Monique Marvez has been blessed with a fortunate career that has taken her across the country performing at clubs and colleges. Her ability to do stand-up in both English and Spanish adds a versatile edge to an already appealing package as one of the few Latina comedians in the business. San Diegans may best remember her as the comic relief and co-host for Jack FM’s morning radio show "Monique And The Man," which ran from 2006 to 2009. Fans of Monique will have a chance to see her performing live comedy again, as she’ll be hosting a monthly comedy show at Harrah’s Rincon Casino called, Livin’ La Vida Harrah’s! Monique spoke to SanDiego.com about her formative years in Miami’s South Beach, and her recent experience performing with notorious comic, Tracy Morgan.
Where did you start doing stand-up?
Monique Marvez: In Miami, I did it at this place called Coconuts that does not exist anymore. May 31, 1990, was my first time ever onstage, and I literally consider that my second birthday. Like when people say, ‘I’m a born again Christian,’ I was born again in comedy, May 31, 1990.
Were you going to school back then?
Oh no, I was a waitress part-time; actually I was a hostess because I was too horrible to be a waitress. I was a hostess and I was building a book of businesses selling medical malpractice insurance. I had like three things going at once to see which one was going to pop, because I was just at that stage in my twenties where you knew you just weren’t going to go the regular route that normal people go.
What was your next step after the open mic?
There were so few women comics, and back in the day I had the boobs going and the hair going, I looked like Xena Warrior Princess, I had this big black hair, and I was straight and Hispanic, so I could do it in English or Spanish, and I wrote all my own material. So I was like a very weird aardvark kind of creature and I got so much attention so quickly. I just started working the gay bars in South Beach and they’d mix me in with the drag shows and the piano variety shows, and the comedy clubs came looking for me. I created a demand; like I never begged to have open mic time. I started in the non-traditional venues then went backwards. In 1992 I went to Montreal as a new face and everything just exploded up there.
What happened in Montreal?
A booker saw me, so I started comedy in 1990 and by 1993 I was full-time on the road and quit my day job. Not that many comedians go from dead standstill open-mic-er to touring headliner in under three years.
That must have been quite a shock to your system?
It was; it really was. I quit my day job, I had been selling malpractice insurance, and I had started to really make some money. The good thing is that I didn’t start comedy as a child. I’m in my forties and I was well into my twenties when I started, I wasn’t a kid. I just rolled with it; it was so natural and organic. It was just like a treadmill getting faster and faster and faster. I had a television deal by 1997.
How did you end up on morning radio?
Here’s a funny thing, radio was another one of those weird organic things. I was on the radio in Indianapolis, promoting my shows at Crackers and they kept asking me, 'How do you want us to intro you? What jokes do you want to do?' I said, 'Look, all I need is for you to do your thing and I’ll jump in and be funny.' So I just started jumping in and being funny and compelling, and the program director took me to Starbucks and said, 'Surely my life is not so easy that I could offer you a job and you’d take it?' And I said, 'Don’t call me Shirley, and how much are you going to pay me?' and that his how I ended up on the radio.
So you just kind of riffed your way into that gig.
Oh god yeah! I never went to broadcast school and I never finished junior college.
Did you start out in Indianapolis?
I started in Indianapolis, and I did fine in the ratings; but I had a two year contract and towards the end they flipped the format to country. But here’s what happened, so many people came down to the station that I had to be on the evening news that night to tell everyone that I was okay, and nothing had happened to me.
What are you doing these days besides hosting the comedy night at Harrah’s?
I’m doing a ton of corporate gigs, and spend the majority of my time in Los Angeles. I just did a show at The Comedy Store in Hollywood that was all in Spanish for Univision. There are so few women that can work clean, like Disney clean, and there are so few Latinas, so my dance card is full!
How did you get hooked up with Harrah’s Rincon?
They had Tracy Morgan booked and everybody thought the tickets were going to fly, and they weren’t moving. So Harrah’s asked me to open for Tracy, and I don’t mind opening; it’s no big deal. And as soon as they put me on the bill we started selling a ton of tickets. Thank god I had developed a following, maybe not as large as the executives would’ve liked but quite nice. And I went that night, and you would not believe how many emails I got saying that I saved the night. Because he’s a lunatic, that guy’s lunatic.
His material does have a more adult edge to it.
His entire act was impregnating people and sodomy; it was an hour of ghetto booty-licious filth. And believe, back in my mistress of comedy days I was no prude. I was famous for being adult. Now what I consider pretty filthy then would get an R rating now. There were sort of rules, like you weren’t supposed to say the ‘C’ word, which people do now. I mean I regularly here people say the ‘C’ word at comedy clubs now and I’m like, ‘What!?’ It was understood that you just never said the ‘C’ word, but that being said, he was just crazy filthy. And I know that they think he’s sober, or he got straight for his kid or whatever. But that was just a giant whatever.
Who can we expect to see on some upcoming shows?
I’ve got a girl named Shayla Rivera coming, and I’ve got Willie Barcena coming down in March. He is hilarious, he is top notch.
Does Monique Marvez have a message for the children?
If you can live with the not knowing, it’s always much better than you could have planned.
You can catch Monique Marvez the last Thursday of every month hosting Livin’ La Vida Harrah’s in the Oasis Lounge at Harrah’s Rincon.