The Daily Show Correspondent Al Madrigal Is Fighting Latino Stereotypes — With Comedy
Al Madrigal appears on About a Boy, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and the podcast All Things comedy.
Photo by Ryan Orange
Al Madrigal just wrapped season two of NBC's About a Boy, in which he nails the role of the ball-and-chained best friend, Andy. "Being fourth on the call sheet is the best job in Hollywood," he explains, grateful to have time to learn Spanish with his kids and watch real estate reality shows — "anything where couples with unrealistic expectations of what they can get for $150,000 in Arkansas."
The 43-year-old actor-comedian is taking a post-workout break, lounging on the patio of Corner Bakery Cafe in Pasadena, near where he lives with his wife and two kids.
He's excited to tend to his collaboration with comedian Bill Burr, their network All Things Comedy and podcast of the same name. With 50 podcasts and 5 million downloads a month, All Things Comedy is a haven for fans to get their fix of funny. The network helps support and market comedians' podcasts while allowing them to keep full ownership.
Since 2011, Madrigal has been traveling to New York and other states as a correspondent for The Daily Show, mainly getting to the bottom of issues concerning the Latino community.
"I got to drive tanks, swim with manatees, go to Mexico City and make a fake drug deal," he says. He also has helped shed light on racism, for example in a segment in which he speaks to people who complain about Latinos having lots of kids and say that "all cultures are not equal."
Despite his success, he says he's been attacked on Twitter by other Latinos who try to "out-Chicano" him by calling him fake or "pocho," a derogatory term for Mexicans who've lost touch with their roots.
"Everyone is the first to say there needs to be more Latinos on television, but when there are more Latinos on television, they're telling them they're not Latino enough," he says.
The accusations inspired Madrigal, whose mother is white, to embark on a "pocho quest" for a special on Fusion, Half Like Me, in which he explores L.A.'s Mexican community so he can get in touch with his roots in time for a family reunion in Tijuana. "People are actually reaching out and wanting to teach this in their classrooms," he says of the show.
Madrigal's own immigration saga starts in Guadalajara, where his grandfather murdered his lover's husband with a machete and fled to San Francisco, where Madrigal was born and raised.
Burr jokes on an episode of the ATC podcast that Madrigal inherited the "murder gene." In reality, it's hard not to like him; you might wish he was your best friend, sharing over dinner his hilarious observations about his multiracial family and the local neighborhood gangsters with hearts of gold. But listening to his stand-up special Why Is the Rabbit Crying? comes pretty close.
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Madrigal's projects in the works include shows with Comedy Central and Funny or Die, as well as a movie. Maybe even a trip to Italy to get in touch with his Sicilian roots on his mother's side? "It's easier to go to Tijuana," he says. "Let's see if they [Fusion] pony up and take me to Sicily."
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