Interviewing comedians is serious business. It requires control and skill to stay on task because often, the comedy can often derail the conversation. Comedian Pablo Francisco is known for bringing an arsenal of celebrity impressions and off the wall characters into his act and doing press is no exception.
During a recent interview with EU Jacksonville, at least half a dozen characters showed up from Stallone to the entire cast of presidential nominees. If the 15-minute phone call was any indication of Francisco’s level of stage intensity, his show is off the charts.
Francisco will appear Aug.18-20 at the Comedy Zone and promises to deliver a night of debauchery with topics to include jealous boyfriends, men who still play video games, territorial girlfriends and a sneak preview of his new animated show for Netflix.
“It will be a little bit of Saturday Night Live divided by the square root of Robot Chicken,” he says. “It will be sex, drugs and Pablo.”
It’s an act that’s served Francisco well since his days as a precocious, if not somewhat incorrigible, student. “Getting up in the morning to go to school was such a nightmare. Learning about Joan of Arc at 9 am? I was like no way. By 1 pm, I would get kicked out of science class. I was like ADD – EFGHIJK. It worked for me. Then I started realizing that there were some teachers you could do it to and some teachers who really dug it. It was always the substitute teachers who were always really supportive. They would pull me aside and say if I stopped teaching, would you like me to be your manager?”
While studying filmmaking at United States International University, Francisco met fellow student Jamie Foxx. “He was just leaving the school because he couldn’t afford it. He got on television about three weeks after I saw him. I said ‘if he can do it, if he can make millions, then I can at least make a million’. So I just started going to the comedy clubs up there in California.”
No one was off limits when it came to impressions and impersonations. Francisco leveled his skill at whiney neighbor kids, teachers, television characters from Kermit the Frog to Scooby Doo and Batman and Robin, Boz Scaggs, Aaron Neville, Casey Kasem to the crowd favorite “movie previews guy” Don LaFontaine.
“He was actually a good guy to hang out with. We hung out for five hours while we were waiting to do a shoot together. And I was like what am I going to say to this guy for five hours? He was like [affects voice] ‘let’s go to my house’. We went to his house and he would just go ‘you’re a little radical. I just do three voiceovers a day and I live like a king’. I was like, wow. Not once did I say ‘can I do to the voice?’ I just paid attention to everything he said. He said ‘you do me better than I do me. If I was you, I would do me doing you doing me. He was a good dude.”
Even when he’s not onstage, Francisco says he will often break out in character to order a drink or make a call, especially when the character voice gets better results – or a bigger laugh (i.e. calling an escort service in a child’s voice to ask if they can come over and play or asking a restaurant could open after hours as Casey Kasem). “I got them to come but they were like ‘there’s no Casey Kasem here,” he says.
Francisco recalls one instance when he tried to convince his brother to quit gambling. He knew his brother wouldn’t listen to his reasoning – but he would listen to Chris Rock. “My brother was gambling a lot and when you ask for your money in your normal voice he’s like ‘damn bro, can’t you just let me live my life?’ But if you call him up as Chris Rock, it’s like (in Rock’s voice) ‘what’s the deal? How stupid is that?’ The money comes back.”