Monique Marvez is something of an anomaly within stand-up comedy.
As a Latina, female comic, the fact that she's a headlining performer makes her exceptionally rare in an arena that is dominated almost exclusively by men.
“I write all my own material, I am physically attractive and I am blaringly heterosexual. So basically I am an army of one,” Marvez said in a telephone interview.
Making a name for herself hasn't been easy, but Marvez attributes it to the fact that she tries her hardest to respect her audience and never simply goes for the low-hanging comedic fruit.
“Most people are way meaner than I am. I am just and I'm fair, but I'm not mean. If you're gay, if you're fat, if you're bald, if you're Arabic, you are safe, you are bullet-proof in my audience. I'm not going after you. That means that I have to be very, very specific in what I think is funny because those things are just really low-hanging fruit in our society and I refuse to pick them. They rot and fall on the ground off my tree,” she said.
Comedy is a hard gig, especially for a woman, but Marvez said she didn't really have much say in the matter.
“It was my last resort and my only skill set. I could lie to you, but you're a nice man. It wasn't what I wanted to do, but it's what I can do. I am absolutely unmanageable, unemployable. I have no filter,” she said. “When God put me together he had a lot of fun, he just left out a bunch of parts, sort of like an IKEA dresser. He left out filter, common sense. He left out the deep love of money, just so many things that are left out on the floor with the instructions.”
Marvez said she figured if she could make her manic-depressive father laugh, a room full of strangers likely wouldn't be a problem.
“I learned as a child that if I could make him laugh, everything was cool. … I knew that I had a certain precocious bluntness that never failed to entertain him. As early as I can remember, I would be the one where everyone is crying and I'd look up at my dad and be like, 'Why is everybody crying? Nobody liked him and the neighbors are bringing pound cake!' That was always me,” she said.
“I learned from Joan never say die, never give up, never give in. She is as tenacious as a pit bull with its wrinkles smoothed out. I adore her. She's one of my personal idols. I've never met her, but it's on my bucket list. I'm now one phone call away from Joan, she's getting closer. Phyllis Diller, I have met on a few occasions. What I learned from her is, as long as you have a brain and a will, you have a job,” she said. “Comedy is ageless and it's not dependent upon beauty and sex appeal and that's comforting, although mine are still fully intact. Carol Burnett, the subtlety of laughter and the ability to have a job that involves your best friend all day. When her and Harvey Korman or Lyle Waggoner would specifically go after each other during a sketch, I thought, 'What a great life!' You're entertaining us by having fun with your friends. What a great life.”
Marvez will perform her stand-up act at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Liberty Hall in Tyler.