You would think that after Sofia Vergara earned the title of “highest-earning woman in U.S. television” by Forbes Magazine in 2014, that beautiful women comics would be the dominating the airwaves, but they aren’t.
With this in mind, Latina Aida Rodriguez really stood out to me during the first round of contestants on the NBC reality competition show, “Last Comic Standing.” The single mom made her debut on the show in a stunning yellow dress, but it was met by criticism by judge Keenen Ivory Wayans who suggested she tone it down.
I caught up with the Miami native after her highly praised performance in episode four to learn more about her background, what it was like going on tour with judge Russell Peters, and why comments made by judge Roseanne Barr still have her on cloud nine.
Congratulations on all you've accomplished so far on the show! How do you feel?
"Thank you! I'm just riding the wave right now. We don't have that many women in this game so I feel like I'm not only making waves for myself but also for other people."
How does a stunning Latina from Miami end up doing stand-up comedy?
“I always wanted to do comedy. When I was little, I used to entertain my mom using a broomstick [as a mic]. I would tell jokes and to sing to her because I always wanted to be an entertainer. I loved Johnny Carson and I used to listen to Alvarez Guedes and say, ‘I want to do that!’ I remember my mom used to remind me that doing that is not for girls.
When I went into modeling, I was always the comic in the group. People would be like, 'This girl is crazy!' Finally I just thought that I would go for it. One day I went on stage, and I never stopped. I've been doing it ever since."
For the record, I disagree with Kennen when he said you need to tone down your beauty. How did that comment make you feel?
"A lot of people gave me a lot of flak because they thought I toned it down in the last episode. But I come from the world of fashion and I just changed my look because I don't want to look the same every week. I have this opportunity to be on television so the next time you see me, I'm going to look different again. To me, I like to listen to everybody that gives me advice, not just Keenen, Roseanne, and Russell.
I’ve had mentorship from some people I respect in comedy and although I hear what they all have to say, I can’t take everyones advice. I take what I can use and move forward. I respect Keenan a lot because he’s responsible for giving people like Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Lopez their first break. So I understood what he was trying to say about my look being distracting but I’m never going to tone down anything for anybody. I’m always being my true authentic self when I’m on stage. What you see is not an act but who I really am.
I think it’s archaic to think that a woman can’t be attractive and funny. If thats the case then how is Sofia Vergara so successful? She’s funny and beautiful. Every week she holds her own on “Modern Family” and is probably the funniest person on the show. When you’re funny you’re funny.”
I really liked the contrast of seeing a beautiful woman step to the stage, looking fly, then really letting the audience have it with the comedy!
"I think it works in my benefit to wear the dresses honestly because my comedy is so hardcore so there's a balance. I like when people think that I'm not gonna bring it because they see me in makeup and heels."
You received the nicest compliment from Roseanne Barr last week. How did it feel to get such high praise from one of the most successful women comics?
"It was very humbling because I love Roseanne Barr. I had an opportunity to share a moment with her and she's been nothing but the most genuine and sweet person to me. She's the epitome of what I've been working towards. Here's a woman who took her real life and turned it into a standup act that turned into a TV show that was a success; that is my goal in comedy. So for her to give me such a nod, I'm still on cloud nine."
In your debut episode, it was mentioned you went on tour with Russell Peters. How was that experience?
"It really drives me crazy because I heard people were saying that I moved on [in the first round] because of Russell. There are several comedians you've seen [on the show] in the last few weeks that also opened for him. I just happen to be the only woman on the show who has done so. So a lot of the naysayers have taken that comment and run with it as if a woman can't make it on her own merit.
I opened for Russell maybe four or five years ago. It was a great experience for me since I was new in comedy. He saw me perform one night and he told me after the show that he found me really funny. I went on the road with him a few times and he's given me some of the best notes. What people don't realize is that Russell believes in giving everyone a chance. He likes to rotate the comics so it's tough to get back in. Here I am four or five years later and I keep asking him to let me go again! He's been doing comedy for so long and I'm so lucky to have had the chance to learn so much from him."
What would winning mean to you?
"Honestly, I'm a freedom fighter when it comes to women in comedy, so I'm always thinking about all the people I could help. Of course I also want to help my family, my son and my daughter, and create better opportunities for them. I've been homeless. We slept in a Best Western for a month and we lived in a car. People don't know our stories and what we've gone through when they talk about us. There are some amazing stories from people on the show. Luckily for us, NBC decided not to exploit and just focus on our comedy and our journey which is an amazing decision for a reality show.
I've been though a lot recently as well. I lost my grandmother to cancer in August of last year. I'm from Miami and my uncle was murdered due to a hate crime in October. So this victory would mean so much more to me and my family than just money. It's something that I want to do to make my family proud, my grandmother proud, and my children proud."
Did you miss Aida's performance last week? Check it out below: