December 4, 2021

Ricky Velez Goes From Late-Night time Troublemaker to ‘Plain’ Stand-Up Star

6 min read


For the final a number of years of his profession, comic Ricky Velez has been best known as Pete Davidson’s best friend, each in actual life and on-screen in The King of Staten Island. Now, he’s grabbing the highlight for himself in his new hour-long HBO particular Right here’s Every thing. It’s his first time ever performing stand-up on TV and, because the title suggests, he holds nothing again.

On this episode of The Last Laugh podcast, Velez talks about how rising up half-Irish, half-Puerto Rican in Queens made racism a overseas idea, how his gig as a contributor on Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Present led to beef with Invoice Nye the Science Man, and what he’s discovered about fame and undesirable consideration from SNL’s Davidson.

One of the best piece of profession recommendation Velez ever obtained was from comic Mike DeStefano, a former heroin addict who died at simply 44 years previous from a coronary heart assault in 2011. “Turn out to be simple,” DeStefano instructed him. “When you turn into that, they’ll’t inform you no.”

After greater than a decade of being instructed “No,” he’s lastly getting used to listening to “Sure.”

“I’ve been doing stand-up since I used to be 19,” Velez, who turned 32 earlier this 12 months, tells me. “I’ve been touring constantly for six, seven years, and I’ve by no means had any stand-up on tv. None.”

It’s not that the alternatives didn’t come his means. “I’ve mentioned no to late-night reveals,” he provides, explaining that as a result of his “materials is a bit of bit on the sting” he’s had “issues” with expertise bookers who’ve tried to inform him what he can and might’t say on their reveals.

“I simply suppose it’s bizarre when bookers get entangled within the artistic, however I perceive that’s their job,” he says now. “And that was the very best half about this particular—all of the artistic is mine.”

A number of of Velez’s premises within the new particular, which premieres this Saturday, Oct. 23, on HBO, appear nearly meant to problem the political orthodoxy of his largely left-leaning viewers. He has one bit about Joe Biden being “too previous to be president” that hinges on the truth that he was born earlier than the music “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” was written. Or one other by which he says he doesn’t wish to “defund the police.” Or perhaps a easy assertion like “I really like America” that might be taken the incorrect means lately.

“I do love America!” Velez tells me. “Pay attention, I come from a city of blue-collar folks. My mother and father labored their asses off, as did all my associates, and a few of them are nonetheless there doing the identical stuff. And I converse for these folks. I feel that’s why this particular is so completely different. You’re actually listening to a voice that hasn’t been instructed at this level.”

Rising up within the most diverse neighborhoods on Earth, Velez says he by no means “understood” racism. “My next-door neighbors have been Filipino, to my different facet I had a Pakistani man, after which throughout the road I had two Italians,” he recollects. “It was so combined that it by no means actually made sense once I was rising up. We didn’t see it typically. In the event you hated anyone, you hated that particular person for being that particular person.”

That range prolonged to Velez’s personal mixed-race household. “On either side, I’ve folks that have been simply uncontrolled,” he says. “I’ve a cousin that went to Yale. However on the similar time, I additionally had an uncle that used to need to test into jail on the weekend.”

Whereas this weekend will likely be his huge TV stand-up debut, Velez did spend a few 12 months and a half as a daily contributor on The Nightly Present with Larry Wilmore. It was Velez’s job to be a bomb-thrower of types within the panel discussions that might shut out each episode. And he was by no means shy about sharing his robust opinions.

“A few of them acquired me in bother. And folks acquired mad at me,” he says, which was unusual looking back as a result of he was primarily unknown on the time. The one that also sticks with him is from September 2015. Velez and fellow stand-up comedian Michelle Buteau ended up going at it with Bill Nye the Science Guy in regards to the discovery of water on Mars.

“Why would I be enthusiastic about Mars?! I’m barely enthusiastic about Earth!” Velez shouted at Nye in that episode. “Trump is first within the polls proper now. I don’t care about Mars! Let’s defeat ISIS, how about that?!”

The clip ended up on the front page of Reddit, the place Velez was labeled a “science denier” and offended commenters doxxed his mother and father, who then obtained demise threats. “It was wild. However on the similar time, it was an excellent lesson to study proper off the highest,” he says. “And I feel lots of the time on that present, that’s what I used to be there to do, was take pictures and disagree. It was enjoyable for probably the most half, however when issues like that occurred—my mother and father didn’t join this, I signed up for this.”

I feel lots of the time on that present, that’s what I used to be there to do, was take pictures and disagree. It was enjoyable for probably the most half, however when issues like that occurred—my mother and father didn’t join this, I signed up for this.

It was a style of the form of undesirable consideration that has been thrust onto his friend Pete Davidson in recent years and Velez didn’t prefer it. “That’s not why I’m on this enterprise,” he says. “So when it began taking place to me and I used to be getting torn up, I used to be similar to, this isn’t what I would like.”

Nonetheless, none of that has made him run away from the inevitable celeb that may accompany continued success within the comedy world. Velez is at present writing a semi-autobiographical function with Judd Apatow, who directed The King of Staten Island and produced his new particular. Individually, he and Davidson have been creating a broader comedy movie within the vein of Billy Madison and Comfortable Gilmore. “We have been actually obsessive about Adam Sandler,” he says. “And I feel that’s the best way we’re seeking to go in our subsequent one which me and Pete are engaged on. I really feel like these films have gone lacking and we want them.”

“If I can inform jokes and make my youngster’s life higher, I’m going to take that to each degree I can take it to,” he says of a profession that’s on the verge of blowing up. “That’s all I actually pleasure myself on anymore. I’ve no downside with the thought of individuals not liking issues I say on stage. I’ve an issue with folks altering the wording to satisfy their agenda.”

Hearken to the episode now and subscribe to The Last Laugh on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts and be the primary to listen to new episodes when they’re launched each Tuesday.

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