Al Madrigal
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Al Madrigal

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The best kept secret in music


"Fresh Faces for Fall"

When Al Madrigal walked in to audition for the comedy "The Ortegas" he realized he was a longshot. But look who's laughing now. Madrigal stars in "The Ortegas," Fox's adaptation of the International Emmy-winning BBC comedy "The Kumars at No. 42."

The skein is a mix of family sitcom, talkshow and improvisational humor. Madrigal plays Luis Ortega, the son of Mexican immigrants who indulge his dreams of becoming a yakker host by building a television studio in the back yard of their humble Van Nuys, Calif., home.

A year ago the San Francisco standup comic was honing his craft in Bay Area comedy clubs and taking the stage with his sketch group. Things started to take off for the 31-year-old at last year's annual New Faces showcase at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal.

"What I think got me the show was my sketch comedy background," he says.

The improv comedian seems a perfect fit for the multifaceted nature of "The Ortegas." The show requires Madrigal to perform unscripted interviews with real celbrity guests, acting in a traditional sitcom role, as well as improvising scenes with co-stars Cheech Marin, Terry Hoyos and Renee Victor.
- Daily Variety

"S.F. native Al Madrigal is more than just another Latino comic"

Al Madrigal has a Mexican last name and has performed at his share of Latino comedy jams across the country. But he doesn't call himself a Latino comic.

"I don't do Latino stand-up, where I talk about Mexicans vs. white people,'' Madrigal says. "That's been done. I'd say I'm a dark-complected comic who just happens to have a Hispanic last name.''

After making his way from the Bay Area comedy club circuit to Hollywood in the past six years, the 33-year-old San Francisco native returns home this week, headlining at the Crow's Nest in Santa Cruz on Sunday and the Punch Line in San Francisco on Tuesday through Thursday.

Madrigal performs stand-up and sketch comedy, and while he shies away from what he calls "typical one-liner'' ethnic humor, he jokes about race to some extent because it's part of his personal story.

"I'm half-Sicilian, half-Mexican, I went to French school as a kid, and I don't speak Spanish,'' Madrigal says. "Latinos don't really claim me, and neither do the Sicilians. It's the plight of the half-breed. That's where part of my humor comes from.''

He and his half-Greek, half-Korean wife also have a 2-year-old son, Lorenzo.

"He's a quarter this and a quarter that,'' he says, laughing. "Times are really changing.''

Madrigal got noticed by TV studio executives after winning the jury award for best stand-up performer at the Aspen Comedy Festival in March.

Shortly thereafter, he was cast in the David Schwimmer-directed NBC pilot "Home and Hardware,'' which was later dropped from the network's lineup.

He's currently awaiting word on the fate of the Fox comedy "The Ortegas,'' a sitcom-improv hybrid based on the International Emmy-winning BBC comedy "The Kumars at No. 42,'' he's also prepping for his own "Comedy Central Presents'' special which will be shown in the fall.

From a young age, Madrigal knew comedy was his calling. He grew up in San Francisco's Inner Sunset district where popular comedians -- the Meehan Brothers, Mike Pritchard and Margaret Cho -- lived only blocks away.

But it took Madrigal years to build up his courage and act on his dream. "I was always a shy kid and didn't talk much,'' he says.

After graduating from the University of San Francisco and working for 10 years at his family's human resources business, he finally decided to hit the open mikes.

"I went from complete financial security at a job where I fired people to sleeping in a scummy condo owned by comedy club owners in San Antonio.''

But Madrigal says the journey, which has been relatively short compared with the efforts of many other struggling comics, has been well worth it.

"I'm not sure what'll happen with "The Ortegas," but even if I walk away and nothing happens, it's still a great experience,'' Madrigal says. "I got into it all to do my stand-up. The TV shows happened to come as a great bonus.''

- Mecury News


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Jury Award Winner for Best Stand-Up Comedian at the 2004 HBO Aspen Comedy Festival, Al Madrigal is a comic to watch. Called "Dynamic" by The New York Times, Al has turned a flair for storytelling into a standing as one of the Nation's fasting rising stand-up comedians. His unique spontaneous and fast paced lyrical style has already landed him several starring roles in network television shows and earned him numerous appearances on Comedy Central including his own Comedy Central Presents Special, an animated bit on the show Shorties Watching Shorties, Premium Blend, and recently Cheech Marin and Friends Live from The South Beach Comedy Festival. Al has also appeared as a regular sketch performer on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Other standup credits include; Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Friday on NBC, Party at The Palms with Jenny McCarthy, Latino Laugh Festival the Show on SiTv, and Comedy Minutos on HBO Latino. Recently Al was on tour with Dave Chappelle, performing with him at the 1st annual HBO Comedy Festival held in Las Vegas.