Francisco Ramos and Gina Brillon bring a double dose of (just not Latin) hilarity to JFL
June 29th 2018
Ron : Hello, Gina. How are you doing? Gina : I’m Good. How are you?
Ron : Fine. Thanks for asking. You may not remember this but we were together on the Love & Harmony Cruise with the Celebrity Summit.
Gina :Oh my! Yes I remember that now! You came up to me after the show and we spoke about Montreal.
Ron : Exactly. You said you would love it we did an interview. I said we’ll set it up and make it all happen, and now here we are. I’m a man of my word.
Gina : Here we are. Now it’s happening.
Ron : Did you find it easier or harder to do the Love & Harmony Cruise?
Gina : It is and it isn’t. It’s a cruise ship show so it’s usually a different crowd. What I loved about the Love & Harmony cruise was it was so different for Celebrity cruises. It is a cruise line that is mainly booked by regular cruisers so they don’t have that kind of a specific cruise. The good thing about the Love & Harmony cruisers was they were so down for a show. They were down for a good time and were so excited. It was a really good experience.
Ron : I’ve seen you a couple of times now and your comedy is not just about let’s say being Latin. It seems to have a more broad scope.
Gina : Yeah exactly. I talk about so many different things. I perform in so many different venues with different types of audiences. I didn’t want to pigeon-hole myself into one topic or another.
That’s another reason why I don’t do politics. It can be so divisive. There are things I like to talk about things that connect people rather than force people to separate from each other. I like to talk about relationships and family so that people from all backgrounds can understand and connect with it.
Ron : Totally. I find in your comedy sometimes there can be a bit of an underlying social
Gina : Definitely. I think that comes from my background coming up in a church and being a person of faith myself. Wanting to connect people is just something that’s always been on my heart. I think I got that from being around the right kind of church people that teach love, understanding, and servitude. All the things I think make a well rounded human being.
Ron : That’s so great to hear. I’m a believer myself. So what was it that made you decide to be a stand up comic?
Gina : Even as a kid when I made someone laugh it mad me feel good too. I would get such a joy out of making someone laugh it would just make my day. if I was able to make someone smile when they were sad or change a bad mood by telling a joke. As a kid it was what made me more confident.
It was as much of a healer and helper for me as it was for the audience as well.
Ron : So who were your inspirations for comedy?
Gina : For female comics there was Brett Butler. I was 14 when I saw one of her stand up specials. Immediately I just loved how smart, sarcastic, and funny she was. At 14 I completely understood her humour.
From Brett Butler, I became a George Carlin fan because she was a George Carlin fan. I became such a huge fan of his. I watched all the specials. Then there was George Burns and George Lopez. All the Georges (laughing). George Burns reminded me of so many uncles in my family who would smoke a cigar and talk trash and make me laugh.
With George Carlin there was a transition where it was the sort of goofy hippy dippy man to someone commenting on war and social issues. It was wonderful to see his growth. I was completely heartbroken when he passed.
Ron : One big thing on your resume is that you got to work with Kevin James on Kevin Can Wait. How was it working with him?
Gina : It was great. He’s a great person to watch and learn from. He’s so phenomenally talented. It was a wonderful experience.
Ron : So here comes the one question I’m asking everyone at this festival. What is your favourite comedy film of all time?
Gina : I have a very silly goofy sense of humour therefore I’m a fan of a lot of slapstick comedy. I’m a big Leslie Neilsen fan. I watched every Leslie Neilsen movie. I love the Naked Gun series. I love all of that. I can watch those movies at anytime and still crack up laughing. I love silly slap stick stuff like that.
Ron : This is not your first time at the Ethnic show. So will you be bringing in a whole new act?
Gina : Yes, I am. This time I will be talking about getting married. The transition from being single to a married life now. Being married to someone who is culturally different than me. My husband is white from the midwest, I’m Puerto Rican from the south Bronx. You couldn’t get two more different upbringings, We’re just opposite sides of the fulcrum completely. So there will be a lot of that in my act.
Ron : Being here before what is it that you like about Montreal?
Gina : Because I’ve pretty much only experienced the festival my favourite thing is how much Montreal embraces it all. It’s such a welcoming environment and everyone is so excited. The Montreal audiences are so incredible. They come out ready for a show. The energy they have in Montreal is just amazing. It’s also an absolutely beautiful place.
Ron : We hear so much about diversity separating people but with the Ethnic show it seems as if it’s more about bringing people together.
Gina : Absolutely. That’s what people need to realize. This show is not meant to separate us into different categories. In essence we are there to learn from each other with different cultural experiences how it changes our point of view.
I had a great time the first time I did the Ethnic Show and now here I am with another great group of comics. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this. We’ve always got great responses from the Montreal audiences which is what makes it even more enjoyable.
Ron : I really look forward to seeing what you all have to bring to the Montreal audiences at his year’s Ethnic show. It’s going to be really great. Thank you so much and God bless you, Gina.
Gina : Awe, thank you so much and God bless you too.
Ron : Hola Francisco.
Francisco : Como Estas? That you for taking the time to talk with me.
Ron : My pleasure. Is this your first time at the Ethnic show?
Francisco : Is it my first time at the Ethnic show? It’s actually my first time at Just For Laughs. I’m a virgin. I don’t see myself that way (laughing) but I’m a virgin as in first time there.
Ron : (laughing) Wow! So here you are at the world’s largest comedy festival.
Francisco : Yeah. It’s like a dream come true to be performing there. Even when I started in comedy it was a dream of mine to get in there and now here I am and to be at the Ethnic show too. I’m so excited. It’s going to be amazing.
Ron : So what are some of your expectations?
Francisco : A little bit of everything. I’ve heard so much about the food, the people, the city, the architecture. I’m definitely going to take it in as a tourist but I’m also excited to be there as a performer for the crowds. I’m very excited either way.
Ron : I’m so excited to know this now. It makes it so much better for the people to experience a new comic even though you’re not really new, just new to Montreal. You’ll get two experience a bunch of new things yourself. Make sure when you get here that you have a poutine.
Francisco : Definitely. I’ve heard so much about the poutine I think the minute I arrive I’ll just tell the taxi driver to take me to some poutine.
Ron : Your whole career so far has really been one success after another. Did ever have any struggles?
Francisco : Oh yeah. It was a struggle because I didn’t come from that world. I came from a world that had nothing to do with comedy. I had a degree in finance and international business. I remember getting my first job in finance. I was sitting in my little cubical and I had a quarter life crisis (giggling). That’s what I call it. I realized being there until I’m 40 was kind of like “uh no.” So I had to figure out what do I really like to do. What’s my passion? I went to the bookstore and was reading self hep books like The Alchemist from Paulo Coleho. It always came back to comedy. I always liked joking around and watching comedies. That’s when the wheels started to turn and I slowly got into comedy.
I came from a job with a pay cheque and insurance all of that, to not knowing where my next pay was coming from and not getting paid too much. It was a lot of hard work. Just going to LA and making it work. That’s why when I tell people “Do what you want to do.” The best thing in a person’s life is to just do what they want to do. Especially if that’s going to make you happy.
Ron : So that being said do you remember the very first time you stood on a stage doing comedy? If so how did it go down?
Francisco : I do remember. The first time… well I first started doing open mike which is a different thing because it’s just fellow comics. Before I started doing stand up I started off doing improv. That’s kind of how I got into comedy. I did just some improv classes and performed in front of friends and family.
On stage I felt comfortable. I felt like this was the place I wanted to be. Even today thats where I feel most comfortable to be myself.
Ron : I love your story, Francisco. Just hearing your story is inspiring for me.
Ron : You were one of the voices in the hit film, Rio. How did that happen?
Francisco : That was through a friend of mine at improv who knew the casting director and recommended me. I had no agent, nothing like that. I had no real experience acting and I got the part. It was such a huge movie. I’ll tell you funny story. The movie takes place in Brazil so I went in doing a Brazilian accent. The director was like “What are you doing?” I told him I was doing a Brazilian accent. He was like “You already have an accent enough. You don’t need to do another one.” That movie really helped me a lot. I got into the union I was able to get an agent and other stuff. It gave me a lot of credibility in the comedy world. Everything happened for the right reason.
Ron : Speaking of movies and saying you always loved comedy, I was curious what’s your favourite comedic film of all time? Or maybe I should ask your favourite animated film of all time.
Francisco : I would say it’s more of a show. When I first moved to the United States I watched a lot of Seinfeld. I didn’t even know Jerry did stand up at the time and then I slowly started to watch his stand up comedy. I can literally quote every single episode.
That’s the kind of stand up that I like to do. It’s kind of universal that anybody can relate to. That’s what I gravitate to.
Ron : So Seinfeld was your inspiration then.
Francisco : Yeah for the stand up I would say so. For the performance though I would say Dave Chapelle. I’m very animated on stage.
Ron : You’ve got your HBO special coming out (Entre Nos) if I’m correct.
Francisco : Yeah, it just came out last Friday. I’m very excited because I grew up watching HBO. It’s such a huge name in the entertainment world. It came out really well. We had a big premiere with a Q & A. I was very happy with how it came out.
Ron : So is that the comedy you are brining to the the Ethnic show or will it be something else?
Francisco : It will be a little bit of that and I’ll be bringing some new stuff that I’ve been working on as well. So it’s going to be a little bit of everything. Every show that I do I try to keep it fresh.
Ron : You’ve even got a good success with your album too.
Francisco : That came out in November of last year. It’s my first comedy album (Yayalo). It’s kind of like something I’ve done in the universe that was for me. It’s been in Sirius FM and is being played a lot. I’ve been getting a lot of god response from Twitter and Instagram with it.
Ron : That is all great. From your album, the HBO special and now your appearance at JFL it seems you’re going straight up the ladder.
Francisco : Thank you so much for saying that. I’ve always tried to do one thing higher then the last. For me success is better when it’s like a grass growing up. As long as I’m going up I know I’m doing the right thing.
Ron : Thanks so much, Francisco.
Francisco : You too, Ron, Bye.
Make sure to get your tickets for the Montreal Just For Laughs Ethnic Show from July 11th to the 26th. with Francisco Ramos, Gina Brillon, Orny Adams, Arthur Simeon, Matteo Lane and hosted by Maz Jobrani.