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Right now is a great time to be George Lopez...

By Omar L. Gallaga

Published in the Austin American-Statesman
July 25, 2001

George Lopez was one of the best-kept secrets among
Latinos — a fiercely funny comedian who melded
tough-talking Spanglish with nostalgic looks back at the
shared experience of barrio living that many of his fans
could relate to — until his ABC sitcom, "The George Lopez
Show," debuted earlier this year. Produced by Sandra
Bullock, the show features Lopez as a family man who
works at an airplane-parts factory (and whose life is
complicated by a pushy mother who also works at the
factory). It was renewed for next year, the rare midseason
replacement that found success.

In the last few years, Lopez has branched off into other
areas, including a radio stint in Los Angeles, a raucous
comedy CD, "Right Now Right Now," and roles in films
including the acclaimed "Real Women Have Curves," and
the upcoming "Latin Kings of Comedy," a concert film
featuring Lopez, Paul Rodriguez, Carlos Mencia and
Cheech Marin from last year's "Three Amigos" comedy tour.

Lopez's roots, though, are in stand-up, and he's taking his
show back on the road before production starts on the
second season of "The George Lopez Show." He'll perform
at the Paramount Theatre on Friday night.

He spoke to the American-Statesman just before a
performance in Corpus Christi.

American-Statesman: What's the difference between
performing in Texas and California — is there a difference
between Latino audiences here and there?

George Lopez: I don't think there's a difference in Latino
audiences. That's an interesting question. If you go by
demographics, Texas has more Mexican Americans than
Los Angeles. In L.A. there are more Spanish-speaking
people straight from Mexico and South America. In Texas,
you find the people here are more English-speaking and
more acclimated, more American, yet still culturally rooted in
Mexico. The audiences, they've always been great. We don't
even target just a Latin audience. It's people who've seen
me on (Galavision comedy show) "Que Locos" or have
seen the CDs. Now with the television show, there's more
Anglo people coming. As much as I like to do material that's
English and Spanish, a lot of people are coming because of
the show, and on the show we speak very little Spanish. I
gotta be mindful of that.

How did you get hooked up with Sandra Bullock? Is she
still active in the production? She wanted to produce a TV
show. She was looking at people that would star in it. I'd
never seen her, never met her before. It's been two years
since I met Sandra Bullock. I think Sandra is the main
reason we made it on. She was there through the first six
months, auditioning, her putting her name on the line for me
to succeed. I don't think there's a more important person in
the George Lopez life professionally than Sandra Bullock.
She's co-executive producer. She's in every decision.

What will be different in the second season of "The
George Lopez Show"?

The first four episodes were like any show; it takes weeks to
a year to get the show up and running. As a cast, we weren't
that familiar with each other. Having a second season gives
you a little breathing room. The bottom line is the show is
gonna be funny first. Writers and critics tend to think this is
every Latino family, and it's not. This is the George Lopez
story, not every Latino family's story. "Seinfeld" didn't speak
for all Jewish families.

There has been a lot of talk about "The George Lopez"
show being the first Latino sitcom on prime time since
the early '80s. What was the pressure like for the show to

They're not lining up to give us an opportunity to succeed or
fail. It's not any more pressure — it's hard to succeed
regardless of whatever color you are. Failure knows no
color, my friend. Our failure is deeper than if "Greg the
Bunny" didn't get picked up. If I fail, there aren't 10 more
Latino shows.

The thing that struck me about the show is that the tone
in some of your standup isn't the same kind of humor
that's found on your TV show — is that intentional? Is this
a case of having more than one comic persona?

You can be different. First of all, I don't think we've
progressed far enough for me to be speaking Spanglish on
ABC. It's not acceptable yet. Maybe in the fourth year, we'll
have an episode with Spanglish and subtitles, but now I
can't. It's baby steps, man. Everything's in time. Whether
people liked or didn't like the show, sometimes it's better to
have someone on than not have someone on TV.

When you were setting out to do the show, what was the
template? Were there influences in what you wanted the
show to be like?

I didn't go by what was on TV. None of it directly has affected
my life except "Chico and the Man." It's about a relationship
between a mom and a son. I thought that was interesting,
the mother raising kids without a father. Those layers were
interesting to me. You can't get there in four shows.

Tell me about the Three Amigos tour — how did that
start? Will that continue on? Which performances were
used for "Latin Kings of Comedy"?

I just saw a screening. The Original Kings of Comedy was
the template for the tour, and then Paul (Rodriguez) and I
became friends. He asked me to do this movie with
Cheech. It should be out in September. They took some
shows we did in El Paso a year ago. I thought it was great
and it was really funny and an event. I don't expect us to go
out together again. It's schedules, temperaments and you
know . . . the ability to get along. Other people can work
together and get along. Latinos take it more personal. They
hurt themselves for business' sake. They work with people
instead of avoiding them if you can. We haven't learned
avoidance yet. (A second "Three Amigos" tour with
comedians Carlos Mencia, Pablo Francisco and Freddy
Soto is expected to hit the Paramount in late November.)

You've done radio, TV, films, CDs, stand-up — are there
any other areas you haven't gotten into? Will you be going
into sports next?

I did a couple of movies, but think TV is the most important.
It's like that's the Holy Grail, whether you're a performer or
not. I went to the ABC affiliate in Corpus Christi, in a brand
new building. They have posters of all the ABC TV comedies
up there — "Barney Miller," "Mork & Mindy," "Welcome Back,
Kotter," Three's Company" . . . my picture will be up there,
too. That's pretty amazing.

Bernie Mac and Damon Wayans have shows, Cedric the
Entertainer has one coming in the fall. Do you think the
networks are finally noticing that shows that focus on
Latinos and blacks can be successful?

They're steps in the right direction. Cedric is my direct
competition. I love Cedric as a performer, but now the
gloves are off. That's a tough one because Damon (whose
show will compete against Bernie Mac next season) said
both shows could fail because of each other. I kind of agree
with him. Why would you put two shows with similar
audiences against each other? I think that both shows will

What can people who come too see your Paramount
show expect?

You'll hear about family nuances, things you hadn't thought
about in forever. It's almost cathartic in a way. People bring
other people, grandmothers will bring their kids and
grandkids. It's wild what's going on. And it's great to see.
They can expect to laugh really hard for as long as I'm up


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