If you haven’t already seen their comedy sketches you don’t know what you’re missing! The Puerto Rican duo from the Bronx have recently received much attention for their YouTube video “Latino Stereotypes for DUMMIES (SNL = Still No Latinas)” regarding the lack of Latina comedians or writers on Saturday Night Live throughout their 38-season history. “The Comedy Girls” consists of Jenni Ruiza and Jesenia and believe me their comedy is NO JOKE! (Pun intended)
LatinTRENDS had the opportunity to speak with “The Comedy Girls” about their gift for making people laugh and future plans. Don’t forget to check out their two hilarious YouTube videos at the end of the interview.
LatinTRENDS: SNL casts Sasheer Zamada but there is still a lack of diversity in SNL’s cast, particularly Latinas. When did you decide enough was enough and you were going to start taking action?
Jesenia: It was pretty much around the time when people were making it a huge issue that there wasn’t a black woman on the cast for about six years. And so we thought ‘Well yea. that’s important ya know, I mean there should be a black woman on the cast and there should not be a reason why there wasn’t for that long.’ Then we got to thinking ‘Wait a minute. We’ve never been on the cast!’ It was more along that line that we had never been considered even.
LT: I recently read John Leguizamo posted on Twitter “Latinas on SNL? It’s about time! It’s a crime to humanity. Give us us!” What was that like knowing he saw your video?
Jenni: Oh my God! It was really cool because John Leguizamo is someone of influence and who has definitely been successful in comedy as a Latino and to see that kind of support just really motivates us and inspires us to keep doing what it is that we’re doing. We both realized the reason why we do well is because we support each other and we need more of that.
To see someone who’s already established and doing his thing give us support like that is great and kind of sets the precedence that everyone should follow suit. If we’re not supporting each other as a community then there’s no point in us trying because it starts with us. We have to portray ourselves and continue to support one another to motivate us more as a group.
Jesenia: What she said…(laughs)
LT: How long have you been best friends and when did you ladies realize you had a talent for making people laugh?
Jesenia: Jenni and I debate on how long we’ve been friends.
Jenni: I know. It feels like a lot longer but it’s been 3 years. Jesenia was looking for writers to help her with her third season of her sketch comedy show which is called “Hay Que Funny” and I found out through a mutual friend that she was looking for writers and I had just come out of college and just did a comedy writing course. I really enjoyed it and it sparked my interest again in comedy. I went to go meet with her and I guess she realized that we both have this ridiculous, crazy, inappropriate humor.
Jesenia: Another thing that drew me towards Jenni was her drive and she was very passionate about beginning a comedy career and I was at the point where I was doing it already for seven years and to see this young, Latina woman who wanted to do comedy was inspiring to me.
Jenni: Also what worked for us is that we bring two totally different things to the table. Jesenia excels immensely at character acting and you can give her anything and she can knock it out of the park. And I bring in the straight man. We both write, we both have been producing our work together in that time frame and its worked for us really well and I think that’s also what spiraled our friendship. We started out as business partners and then became best friends from there. So it’s like the perfect partnership.
LT: It’s rare to see attention given to Latinas with a sense of humor. Do you think that is changing because of social media?
Jesenia: I feel like social media puts us in touch with so many people at a moments notice. In one second you can have a hundreds or thousands or a million people seeing what you do. So I feel like Latinas are becoming more and more in touch with their funny side. And being able to express it online is an easy way to go. And that’s for everybody, every actor out there. You can make a movie on your cell phone, you can make a movie with your ipad, you can do it with anything and just upload it online. Social media is humongous and there’s literally no excuse for any of us not to be seen.
Jenni: And to piggy off of that when you mentioned support in the community, social media is a huge platform for supporting and showing support. I say this all the time, support can be shown in something as simple as a retweet or a quick mention, a Facebook status update, whatever it is there’s really no reason to not show support with our community in itself. It’s a great way to promote yourself.
Jesenia: It’s a great networking tool. We’ve met so many people in the industry, Rick Najera, John Leguizamo and Lisa Lisa. If it wasn’t for social media specifically websites like Facebook and Twitter we wouldn’t know any of these people. We’re constantly on there looking for new talent, looking for people who have been in the industry, maybe even behind the scenes. Jenni and I are always looking for who writes that and oh, there’s a new writer for this, who is that? It’s all about we’re out there. You just literally have to seek. Its like finding a needle in a haystack. We’re there.
LT: How did your SNL skit become so popular?
Jenni: We’ve literally been reaching out to as many different publications as possible. We’ve been doing a lot of research and really quite honestly it’s through social media. We’ve been doing all the reaching out ourselves and from there other publications have also picked us up and through word of mouth too.
Jesenia: And Perez Hilton, Perez Hilton, Perez Hilton.
LT: What do you hope comes out of your comedy sketches? If SNL asked you to join would you?
Jenni: Absolutely! Yes, We would not say No. That would be crazy.
Jesenia: We know with that comes something very important. You become a representative of your people. It’s a very big title and important title to hold. You know that when you’re joining this organization who’s never had a Latina on there, who’s never had a Latin writer aside from Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen, you know that you are going into a situation where you might have to defend yourself a lot. You might have to educate people. It’s more so education because I feel that when people are misinformed about a culture they have to be informed in some kind of way, the correct way.
And so, whoever they cast if it’s one of us, or if it’s both of us or if it’s another Latina out there doing her thing, it’s important for that person to know that they have to represent us in a way that is accurate and prideful. We’re all about pride you know what I mean? To continue doing mockeries of us, and we know it’s comedy, comedy is a mockery of everything. There’s different ways of doing different things like when we did our video the SNL video we could have gone about it in a very mean way, angry, [You know Latinas. We’re very passionate we get upset by talking loud] but we didn’t want to do that. We wanted it to be informative and something that was not aggressive and easy to listen to and to watch and to learn from and the only way you can do that is by being kind. We still delivered our message but we were kind about it and it worked out because it’s still funny. That woman she’s going to have a big job on her hands.
Jenni: And the last thing we would want too is for a Latina to be cast on SNL and then subject herself to the maid role or the woman with the thick accent. I’m gonna be really honest if you hear how I sound I get this all the time people always say ‘You’re Latina?” because I don’t’ sound “Latina.” I don’t know what that means. We would have to speak up for ourselves and represent ourselves in a way that we live in New York City, this is America, there are tons of different shapes and languages and dialects that we all speak or rather just accents. We want to show that and make sure that whoever is representing us would at least fight for that and not be subjected to continuing to box Latino culture into something that is very stereotypical.
LT: Do you have any other skits planned?
Jenni: “Becoming Ricardo” is actually a web series that we both write and Jesenia stars in it as both the title character Ricardo Montalban and a character who’s also by the name Jesenia. There will be two more coming out soon before summer hopefully and we are also going to be debuting a sketch. One of the things we realized is super important is yes, we called out SNL for hiring a Latina but we also need to prove that we can do comedy well we are going to put out a sketch which is a musical sketch.
Jesenia: What we can give you is it’s ‘West Side Story’ inspired.