Spotlight on the Brown

The Godfather of Chicano comedy ... Rudy Moreno

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: August 1, 2016

Spotlight on the Brown

In this present sour political atmosphere, It seems people all over this great land of ours need to chill out, back up and re-group, and enjoy life on some mellow terms that have no political agenda for a change.

The most potent remedy I have witnessed for public maladies over the years are the Arts.

Universal, easily digested, no calories, non-fattening, and easily shared with others without side effects. Great treatment for headaches,depression, bad moods & attitudes, and mental constipation.

The Art of Theater & movies ... the Art of music ... the Art of writing, drawing & painting ... the Art of dancing ...t he Art of story telling and comedy ... all available in this great Land of 1000 Dances, all you gotta do is get out of the house for awhile and live a little life!

Besides the art of music & dancing, one of my best remedies for boredom and a foul mood has been the art of stand up, live comedy. Satire has been around and enjoyed by the masses for centuries as a way of letting off steam and laughing their way out of misery, bad moods,and hard times. It has grown immensely as a popular form of live entertainment over the years.

So it stands that this month's Spotlight on The Brown is one of our Country's most popular and nationally recognized Chicano comedians who has become known as the "Godfather of West Coast Chicano Comedy," Mr. Rudy Moreno....a man for our times.

"Nobody ever grows up planning to be a comedian," Rudy tells LatinoLA, "....but after years of working for the Gas Company where the only good thing that came out of that was that I met my wife Arlene, and after Rudy Salas of TIERRA gave me a lucky break at being a comedian at one of their concerts, I found that I could make a living out of it, be a voice for my people, and portray us in a better light than the stereotypes that exist today."

Growing in Los Angeles's East Side Boyle Heights area and attending Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights, Rudy is very familiar with tough times in the tough streets of L.A., but managed to escape gang life without forgetting where he came from.

"When I'm up on stage, seeing my people laugh and enjoying life, and I realize that I'm a part of their good time...man! That's what it's all about! People sometimes take the world and themselves too seriously ... sometimes, you just gotta take a break and laugh."

Rudy states he got his foot in the door in show business by just hanging out with friends in the old neighborhood in East Los Angeles.

"I grew up hanging out with the Salas Brothers of TIERRA fame. I hung out with the younger brothers of Rudy & Steve. We used to pick up a few bucks during high school at TIERRA gigs by being the equipment roadies. Being that we were under age, we couldn't get into the clubs they played in. So we would unload the sound equipment at gigs, go out and party on our own, then come back after the gig was over and load the equipment back on the truck. After a couple of times of coming back late and a little buzzed, we got fired," Rudy laughs.

"But I was cool with that. Anyways, I would still hang out with the Salas brothers in the streets, at family gatherings and parties, sometimes at a TIERRA gig. We were always cutting up and cracking jokes like friends having a good time usually do, when one day Rudy Salas asked me to open up a TIERRA show with a comedy routine. I thought he was kidding, but he was SERIOUS! ... I guess I did OK, because they asked me to come back! ...I think being asked to come back was a bigger compliment than being asked in the first place!"

Rudy says soon afterwards, he was introduced to the legendary Chicano comic Gilbert Esquivel in the early 1990's, who invited Rudy to join a fledgling group of Chicano comedians known as the East Side Comedy Group, which helped launch Rudy's career.

"Gilbert's my brother ... I can't thank him enough for all he's done for me and other Chicano comics. We've come a long way together, me & him. First class kind of guy, that Gilbert".

Besides Gilbert Esquivel, Rudy attributes Paul Rodriguez, Richard Pryor, and Jackie Gleason as some of his comedic inspirations and heroes.

Rudy also humbly attributes his wife Arlene as his biggest and most staunch supporter and fan over the years. "Without her love & support, none of this would have happened. She supported me leaving a secure 9 to 5 job to gamble on making it as a comedian .... and the gamble paid off !"

I first met Rudy back in the 1990s in a moment we laughed about during our interview. I was working security as a bouncer at the Puente Hill Hop (pre-Frankie Firme) where THUMP Records was putting on and recording one of the first Latin Legends Shows featuring TIERRA, MALO, EL CHICANO and Rudy Moreno. A couple of pretty ladies had snuck backstage to hangout with the artists uninvited, and it was my job to escort them out. Although he gave me a hard time for doing that (these ladies were VERY pretty indeed!), Rudy did it in such a funny & friendly way, I never felt bothered or disrespected by that.

Years later, I met Rudy again in 2003 where I was lucky enough to be the MC for Gilbert Esquivel's East Side Comedy & Music Revue at the Comedy Store in Hollywood, where Gilbert produced the first ALL-Latino starring comedy & music show on Hollywood's Sunset Strip since the legendary Desi Arnaz's 1952 show.

Man! That was a MEMORABLE buzz for me to be on that stage that night! Gilbert Esquivel and some of L.A.'s top music artists and comedians in one show in Hollywood! Sold out full house!

.... The opening comedian: Mr. Rudy Moreno !

Being that it was my first time on a Hollywood stage, and introducing some top notch entertainment at a big show opening at a historical spot on the Sunset Strip had me feeling pretty nervous, but Gilbert & Rudy were cutting up & cracking jokes backstage like we were at a backyard bar-b-que in the 'hood, making all of us feel loose and comfortable. That show and the next 2 shows were sold out successes.

We've been friends and done a few shows together ever since...and I still feel lucky!

Over the years, Rudy has appeared in movies, on television, in clubs & concerts across the country, and has been a regular at Pasadena's famed Ice House for years, enjoying success as one of the more popular Latino comedians in Los Angeles.

Despite his success, Rudy has remained the consumate gentleman, friend and entertainment supporter. I've seen him perform at numerous charity fundraising events, big and small, the Los Angeles County's Latino Behavioral Health Institute convention, countless clubs throughout Los Angeles, and once I even ran across him on the street at a small outdoor hamburger joint, joining the audience in Alhambra supporting a friend's band, easily greeting fans like they were long time friends.

For over 20 years, he and his wife Arlene hosted "Komics for Kids" at Christmas Holiday time, putting on comedy shows to collect toys and money for needy children of Los Angeles.

Rudy continues to perform and support upcoming comedians and entertainers at his shows. Most recently he was involved with Ray Carrion's popular & successful "Battle of the Bands" at Pico Rivera's A MI HACIENDA Restaurant as a featured performer and he brought the house down!

At the time of this writing, preparations are being made for Rudy's 20-year Comedy Celebration Show at Steven's Steakhouse in East L.A. featuring Gilbert Esquivel, Jeffrey Garcia, Willie Barcena, Ray Carrion's Latin All Stars Band, Thee Mr. Duran, myself as House DJ and of course: MR. RUDY MORENO !

And so...all that being said...LatinoLA salutes and welcomes another warrior de Aztlan in the Land of 1000 Dances: Mr. Rudy Moreno....Comedian, Actor, Entertainer, Philanthropist, CHICANO!!

About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is The Al Capone of the microphone & Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul heard daily on Internet Radio Station www.eastLArevue.com . He is a regular contributor to this fine web magazine since 2002.
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