March 5th, 2010
Tales Of A Stand-Up Dad
Comic spins hilarious stories from ups and downs of family life
Al Madrigal burst onto the comedy scene in 2004, winning an award at the prestigious US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen. Nicknamed “The Latin Breeze” for his casual storyteller tone onstage, Madrigal talks openly about cultural and parenting issues, squeezing painfully funny details from his life as a half-Mexican, half-Sicilian married father of two.
His stories touch on things all parents can relate to: swearing in front of the kids, bouncy house birthday parties, and why you should never let your kid watch The Wiggles. We recently chatted with the comic via email.
The Dad List: What was your childhood like? Do your kids have it easier than you?
Al Madrigal: I had it way easier than my kids. Both my parents worked, so me and my two little brothers really got to do as we pleased. We all took the streetcar— the N Judah in San Francisco—45 minutes everyday. We were alone from 3 to 6. We watched TV, played in the street with neighborhood kids, and played sports at school. There was no guitar, no rec league sports.
I’m so freaked out about my son getting hit by a car or kidnapped we’re with them at all times. If he so much as looks at a piano, he’s in a class. Art class, summer school, summer basketball leagues… poor guy has a tighter schedule than I do.
TDL: Before you broke into comedy, you spent almost 10 years firing people. How hard was that, and did it help you to be a better comic or dad?
AM: If you saw “Up in The Air,” that’s pretty much what I did. It was hard at first, but then I became really cold and started to make a sport out of it; that’s when I knew I needed to get out and do something creative and try to give back. I volunteered with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, took stained glass classes, and eventually tried stand-up. I’ve easily fired over 1000 people. It’s a weird skill to have but it did give me a couple things that I [still] use: I’m able to make tough decisions quickly without showing emotion, and I’m able to remain pretty calm when someone is giving me shit. Both things translate to comedy and parenting.
TDL: How did parenthood affect your stand-up routine?
AM: It gave me a whole new area… I still haven’t scratched the surface. Other kids and their parents are such idiots the potential for stories is limitless.
TDL: Is there anything about your family that’s off-limits? How thrilled was your wife about the “Pregnant, Horny, & Gassy” routine?
AM: No, everything is fair game. I’ll probably stop talking about my kids as they become more aware of what I do, but my wife is pretty thick-skinned and knows that making fun of her pays the bills. After “Pregnant, Horny, and Gassy” she cried (mainly because she really was pregnant) and made me promise to stop telling that bit. I crossed my fingers and kept doing it… still haven’t found a better opener.