Starting at the illegal age of 20, Vince Acevedo, is an-up-and coming comedian from the Humboldt Park area in Chicago. He strongly represents his Puerto Rican culture and infuses his material with a close depiction of how Boricua households run. Being one of the only Puerto Rican Comics in Chicago, his cultural background has been a big advantage to his success.
He recently headlined a one-man comedy show for a sold-out crowd conveniently named “I’m ConVINCEd.” Much of his comedic material is based on being from a Puerto Rican family, his personal relationships, and his everyday life and experiences gained from living in the City of Chicago. When he and I spoke, we both reminisced on our childhoods, cultural backgrounds and the funny Puerto Rican antics we were subjected to growing up. He also recalled having a hard time in school as a young man (getting along with other Latino kids was difficult because of his light complexion). Nonetheless, all of those experiences served fruitful in his profession. Now at age 27, he’s recognized as a strong comic and is working consistently with bookings across the country.
How did you get started in comedy?
Pretty random. There is no place where one goes to be a stand-up comedian. Seven years ago, I took the advice of a buddy who knew of an open mic night. I attended, and the crowd warmed up to me and it took off from there.
What’s the hardest thing about being a comedian?
Maddy, it’s the hardest job. Honestly, I would never recommend this line of work to anyone. Simply because we don’t ever give to ourselves, our individual needs. Our personal lives are non-existent. Personal desires take a backseat to our comedy. For example, when most people are at work, comedians sit idle, work on material. When the majority of people are coming home to their families and children, we are off to work. It is mentally, physically and spiritually exhausting work. No matter what’s happening in your personal life, it all has to be suppressed because you have to go out there, perform and connect with the crowd. Normal people can talk about their problems with co-workers, spouses and they are not worried about being in the spotlight, pleasing a crowd of people. People think that this is a glamorous job; it’s not. There’s no 401(k), Pension Plan, Health or Dental Insurance. There are times where you agree on a price with a promoter, the venues attendance is not what was expected; next thing you know, you are being heckled on your pay. Normal people don’t deal with that. Normal people go to work and you know what you’re getting paid on Friday. For us, it’s always a gamble. Guess what? We have bills to pay, too! Basically, you live show-by-show, always trying to stay afloat of the game and trying, most importantly, NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN.
Do you find it hard to maintain a romantic relationship due to your line of work?
I find it hard to be in a serious relationship, yes. Mainly because it’s a taxing situation. There’s always the issue of insecurity and trust on the part of the woman. It takes a strong secure woman to be in a relationship with a man who’s in the spotlight. Women I’ve had relationships with always worry about me getting hit on, women throwing it at me! So the relationship ends rather quickly. These are valid worries, of course. But I, like the rest of us, want a serious relationship, trust, love and understanding. Any man that finds that in a woman, is going to be faithful. It’s difficult just to date. For instance, when my significant other is available, I am getting ready to go to work. When I have a date set, there’s always the chance that I will receive a call for a last minute fill-in; this happens quite often. I can’t say no! Every show is an opportunity, a chance to build. It’s what I’ve been bred to do. For me, it’s beyond a job now. It’s a sacrifice I make for everyone else. It’s rough and hard to enjoy. People say to me all the time, “Yo, I envy what you do.” I say, “I envy that you don’t have to do it.”
Are you at the “I’ve made it” place yet?
I think the moment someone gets satisfied or feels like they’ve made it, that’s when they end up falling from their pedestal. For example, everyone hates Kanye West. People say, “Oh he’s cocky, he’s arrogant.” But you know what? He goes out there and he works. He puts on songs, concerts. He’s always in the limelight, always in the spotlight…on purpose! He does this to constantly stay relevant. He does this, because he’s not satisfied he’s made it. But he’s not there yet. He wants to make history, and that’s what it’s really all about. Any artist, as far as music, actors, comics… all of our biggest fear is being forgotten. That’s mine. Three years ago I personally dedicated myself to prove a point to someone that had forgotten about me when I was younger. The entire time all I thought about was, if there’s just one flier she comes across, that’s going to be victory for me. Years later when I saw her, knowing that she was paying attention, I come to find out she had a few of my fliers she had collected. She kept up. It was the most miserable feeling for me. It wasn’t what I had hoped for. I wanted the feeling of, “Oh, I won, you miserable woman!” It backfired on me. The whole entire time we could have been sharing those moments together. But, she forgot about me and I went on my one-man crusade to try and feel better about myself. The situation ended up not working out at all. Comedy is not all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s very interesting, you know? There is a deeper side to comedy. People don’t get that it can be a miserable and rough thing to get into. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy it when we are on stage, yes! But the before and the after, that’s a whole other interview…
Does anyone help you with your writing, do you collaborate with anyone?
When I first started, I used to write stuff down just to get the sense of what direction I was going. After a while you learn to memorize it all. Jokes to me are like lyrics to a singer. Besides, all of my material comes from conversations, relationships and my family. Those experiences are pretty memorable in themselves, therefore the materials stays with me. For instance, one of my top jokes right now came from a conversation with a buddy of mine. We were talking about women that go out and they wear animal print clothing. After poking fun at it and having a group of people laugh about it, it became a great joke. That’s how I incorporate my material. You gotta admit, life is very funny. My grandmother was full of material. She used to say things like, “Mijo don’t stand in front of the microwave while it’s on.” “Why grandma?” I would ask. “Because, you’re going to turn into your father.” Another great one was, “Mijo, don’t give your little brother titi-twisters, he may develop breast cancer.” If you listen closely, especially to elder members of any race, they are bound to crack a few good jokes in any given conversation. They have time, wisdom and experience behind them…
Now, I’ve seen you live in one of Mikey O’s shows, and I remember it clearly because you were the only comic that received a standing ovation. Tell me, how does that feel?
It’s a HIGH…It’s a great feeling to know that whatever you are going through, you get to go on stage and have such a great time with the crowd: that they are willing to stand up and show appreciation for what you are doing. Don’t get me wrong, to some people this is a job you are supposed to love, but it’s hard…But it is all worth it when the crowd sees that and they vibe with you…It’s a beautiful feeling. Unlike anything else.
How can people find you if they want to come out and see your shows?
Hit me up on facebook, I post all my upcoming shows on there.