Eastside native Alfred Robles was two months short of completing the”¯Los Angeles Police Academy when”¯ suddenly, his path took a turn.
After the agency found out about a past restraining order, he was no longer eligible to become a police officer.
As Robles faced a crossroads in life, he thought about all those times that he overheard his brother listening to comedy tapes and wanting to be that guy; the one that made people laugh.
Years later, Robles made it happen. He now finds himself standing in front of the masses making people laugh as a comedian.
At a recent show in a dark bar in Pasadena, Robles walks in with energy and confidence.
He grabs a drink, walks over and gives me a hug as we sit down. We grew up in the same neighborhood in East Los Angeles, where I remember him as meek and quiet. We begin chatting about his show that night and his comedic beginnings.
“My brother inspired me [to be a comedian]. He used listen to tapes of Andrew Dice Clay and Martin Lawrence. He never let me listen to them and finally, when I got a hold of those tapes, I realized that’s what I want to do…I want to make people laugh!”
But those names are pretty tough to open for; the audience comes to see the shows for the headliner and ready for a specific kind of comedy.
Robles knows he not only must do”¯a good set, but win over the headliners’ fans. “It feels good, it’s better than having sex,” he responds about the challenge.
But he wasn’t always the funny kid. As a student at Assumption Catholic School in Boyle Heights, he remembers he was far from being the class clown, but he did always have confidence.
“I was very shy. I have always been determined, if there was a girl I was after, I knew I would get her…but I was shy,” said Robles.
And the road to the comedy stage hasn’t been easy. “No one from East L.A. ever dreams or aspires to be a comedian,” he said. Before landing stage spots on comedy line ups, Robles’ dream had him homeless on the streets of Los Angeles.
“I went to stay with my brother, but he got upset because I couldn’t find a job and he kicked me out. I ended up sleeping at the Greyhound station on Alameda and 7th in Los Angeles.”
The challenges didn’t end there. Now, he has a different kind of critic to win over: his mom. Robles’ mother, a traditional Mexican mother who wants her sons to be hard-working men doesn’t think highly of the comedic profession. She thinks her son is lazy because unlike his brothers, who hold jobs in manual labor, he has “nice hands.”
“She’s my toughest critic,” he says about his mother.
But this was his career choice, and the only option left for him was to be successful. It was those hardships and challenges that taught him how to overcome and persevere, regardless of the lack of support or income.
Robles has appeared on Showtime and Comedy Central doing stand up comedy and currently has had an offer to release a comedy CD. His next goal is to become an actor. You can catch him in his acting debut in The Fluffy Movie: Unity Through Laughter (2014), alongside Gabriel Iglesias.
Maria Arredondo is a full-time working mom who always finds time to sit and have a meal with her family. Maria was born and raised in Boyle Heights where she recently bought a home. She lives with her boyfriend, two kids and her boyfriend’s sister, calls herself an “Accidental Foodie” and loves to write.