Latino Comedians: Past, Present & Future

With the tragic death of Gaspar Henaine (aka Capulina) last week, the premiere of Gabriel Iglesias' new show Stand-Up Revolution and the upcoming 60th anniversary of I Love Lucy, we've been thinking a lot about the huge influence Latinos have had on the world of comedy over the years. 

Here's a collection of our favorite funny people—some have brought us to tears with their jokes and others have caused controversy—but all of them have made us laugh.

Take a stroll through the past, present and future of Latin comedy:

1. Comedian: Desi Arnaz

PAST: Desi Arnaz (1917-1986)

All the icon needed to say was "Lucccyyyyyy" to get a laugh. The late Cuban-born musician and actor is best known for his role as Ricky Ricardo in the famous 50s TV sitcom I Love Lucy, which also starred his then-wife Lucille Ball. Often leery of his mischievous wife, Arnaz’s often called Lucy out on her over-the-top schemes.

2. Comedian: Cantinflas

PAST: Cantinflas (1911-1993)

Cantinflas (real name: Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes) is one of the most well known figures in Latino comedy. The entertainer explored medicine and boxing before settling on stage and film, which provided him with a long and successful career. Cantinflas was famous for his comic use of language in his films and became an integral part of Mexico cinema before acting in the U.S. and eventually earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

3. Comedian: Marilyn Martinez

PAST: Marilyn Martinez (1955-2007)

She was well on the rise of becoming one of the leading female Latinas in comedy, but sadly passed away. Originally from Denver, Colorado, Marilyn was a regular performer at The Comedy Store in Hollywood, California. Martinez also starred in Latin Divas of Comedy —an HBO special that featured four Latina comediennes.

4. Comedian: Capulina

PAST: Capulina (1926-2011)

It’s hard to believe Capulina (Gaspar Henaine) is gone. The comic was a bunch of halves – half-Lebanese, half-Mexican, and half of the well-known comic team, Viruta (also known as Marco Antonio Campos) and Capulina. Together, both men were widely successful, appearing on television and in over 20 films together. He also recorded numerous music albums and, after he parted ways with Viruta, continued to act in films until his retirement from show biz in 1997.

5. Comedian: Chespirito

PAST: Chespirito

We can’t blame you if you don’t recognize Roberto Gómez Bolaños by his government name – he’s known by his nickname, Chespirito (or Little Shakespeare). The 82-year-old comedian/actor is recognized by all of Latin America for creating some of the most popular sitcoms of all times, El Chavo del Ocho and El Chapulín Colorado. Chespirito was awarded the Legend Award at the Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards.

6. Comedian: Gabriel Iglesias

PRESENT: Gabriel Iglesias

A fan of Hawaiian shirts and cake, Gabriel Iglesias is a self-proclaimed “Fluffy Guy. The Mexican American stand-up comic appeared on Nickelodeon’s sketch comedy series All That back in 2000 and since then has brought his comedic charm to different late night talk shows and even got his own Comedy Central special titled Gabriel Iglesias: I’m Not Fat… I’m Fluffy. The 35-year-old was also a contestant on Last Comic Standing five years ago and though he didn't win, in the end, Iglesias is still a winner. Last night his new show Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution premiered on Comedy Central.

7. Comedian: George Lopez

PRESENT: George Lopez

He’s a household name and a pioneer; the first Latino to headline a morning radio slot on an English-language station in his area and the first Latino to host a late night talk show. The 50-year-old Mexican American stand-up comedian is most known for his ABC sitcom George Lopez, which aired from 2002 to 2007, and his stand-up. His TBS late night show may have been canceled, but the comedian/actor already has several new projects lined up (including managing a comedy club for Carnival Cruise Lines).

8. Comedian: Anjelah Johnson

PRESENT: Anjelah Johnson

Please tell us you know who Bon Qui Qui is. If you don’t, we urge you to run to your nearest computer and search the name on YouTube to watch the video. The fast-food employee is a character played by 29-year-old part-Mexican comedian/actress Anjelah Johnson on the show MADtv. Johnson also starred in Our Family Wedding alongside America Ferrera. Johnson’s comedy has earned her a cult-like following in cyberspace and we look forward to seeing more from her!

9. Comedian: John Leguizamo

PRESENT: John Leguizamo

He’s been in show biz since the 80s and the Colombian actor/comedian shows little sign of slowing down. The 47-year-old started out in stand-up and later branched into film and television, lending his unique voice to the wildly popular sloth in Ice Age. What we love most about Leguizamo is his amazing energy; he's had a number of one-man shows on Broadway, where he’s often channeled his personal experiences into great comedic material. His most recent project is Ghetto Klown, and it's opened to rave reviews!

10. Comedian: Paul Rodriguez

PRESENT: Paul Rodriguez

Rodriguez once considered becoming a lawyer, but the 56-year-old has done pretty well as a comic. Rodriguez’s humor, which often centers on serious issues within the Latino community, even landed him in Comedy Central’s list of 100 Greatest Stand-ups of all Time. Not bad!


11. Comedian: Carlos Mencia

PRESENT: Carlos Mencia

You most likely remember the Honduran-born comedian’s show, Mind of Mencia. The Comedy Central show had a three-year run before getting canceled in 2008. The 43-year-old’s humor, which has focused on everything from race to politics, has received both laughs and backlash. Mencia is also a seasoned actor. He’s appeared in numerous sitcom shows (dating back to 90s’ In Living Color) and also starred alongside America Ferrera in Our Family Wedding.

12. Comedian: Pablo Francisco

PRESENT: Pablo Francisco 

The 37-year-old Pablo Francisco, who began his career in improv, has been a featured player on MADtv and performed his material on numerous tours, including “The Three Amigos” alongside Carlos Mencia and Freddy Soto. The comedian of Chilean descent is known for his vocal impressions of famous people (most notably Don LaFontaine – the late voiceover artist); check out the funny video below to see what we mean.


13. Comedian: Dominizuelan

FUTURE: Dominizuelan

On their Twitter account, they describe themselves as defiant and cheeky... we love these Latinas already. Made up of Lorena Diaz and Wendy Mateo, Dominizuelan is an improv duo with a hit web show titled Rehash w/Wendy & Lori. On the show, the venezolana and dominicana analyze and rehash pop culture news with their own hilarious takes, often acting and impersonating famous people, such as reality star Snookie from MTV’s Jersey Shore.


14. Comedian: Ruperto Vanderpool

FUTURE: Ruperto Vanderpool

In his stand-up, Ruperto Vanderpool shares his hilarious childhood experiences as the child of Dominican immigrants in New York City. In one show, the actor/comedian jokes about being been fed coffee in a bottle by his abuela! Vanderpool starred in 2004’s The Cookout by Queen Latifah and in P. Diddy’s Bad Boys of Comedy on HBO. He even performed with Aventura once – surprising the audience as a hilarious Dominican character.

15. Comedian: Carmelita Tropicana

FUTURE: Carmelita Tropicana

Her real name is Alina Tropayo, but it’s this playwright/actor’s alter ego Carmelita Tropicana that secured her position New York’s performing arts scene. The award-winning Cuban American artist often blends humor and fantasy to re-tell historical accounts and her work has brought her all over the world, including countries such as Spain and Germany.

16. Comedian: Aubrey Plaza

FUTURE: Aubrey Plaza

Aubrey Plaza’s humor on NBC’s Parks and Recreation is dry. Extremely dry. But we love that. The 27-year-old actress, whose father is Puerto Rican, has gained popularity with her dead-pan style of comedy. Before her role as April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation, Plaza performed improv and sketch comedy and played Seth Rogen’s love interest in 2009’s Funny People.

17. Comedian: Related Links