Underground comedy on the border has its own jalapeño flavor

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Jerry Karnes

Jerry Karnes comedian/founder of the Underground Comedy Show. Photo credit: Andrea Vargas

EL PASO Everyone always enjoys a good laugh and at Coconuts Bar and Grill the staff invites amateur comedians to gather around every Tuesday to perform in the Underground Comedy Show.

Comedians from El Paso differ from comics in other places, because the culture here nourishes a different type of humor, merging American and Mexican culture into an authentic border type of humor.

Jerry Karnes who is known by his stand up name “El Malkreado” founded the show in April 2005 after a road trip to Austin where he visited a bar on 6th street called the Velveeta room. A comedy show was going on and the comedians were so bad, he said, that he started making fun of them. One of them told Karnes to do a better job if he could.

“I grabbed the microphone and I acted like if I was going to give it back to him and I didn’t, instead I went up on stage and made people laugh for a good two minutes,” Karnes said.

Karnes helped make his vision of building what is currently the Underground Comedy Show a reality. The existing local comedy club wasn’t supportive of his idea at all.

“I kept finding bars, and started off at Surges that used to be a Metal bar and I used to perform between musical performances and that is when I started getting noticed,” Karnes said.

Carlos Osuna, a fellow comedian, also in the Underground Comedy Show, says that standup comedy is what he always wanted to pursue, that even as a boy he knew he wanted to make people laugh for a living.

Carlos Osuna

Carlos Osuna comedian Photo credit: Andrea Vargas

“Every job I’ve had I felt depressed and miserable. Working from 9-to-5 was never for me. Ever since I was little I knew that I always wanted to be on stage to make people laugh,” Osuna said.

The fact that Osuna can make people laugh and make them forget for a second that they had a bad day encourages him to keep pursuing his love for standup comedy.

A regular at the club, Veronica Gomez, says that his jokes make her laugh harder because she understands and knows how the people in El Paso live and she can relate.

“I have seen comedy shows in Arizona and California and since El Paso is basically ‘Little Mexico’ the type of jokes that people make here are more authentic to the Mexican culture unlike others I’ve heard,” said Gomez.

Billy Post who has been doing standup comedy and has been in the Underground Comedy Show for the past two years says that what got him into standup comedy was the fact that his friend was too nervous to go on stage and so Post took his spot and left the crowd wanting an encore.

“I really try not to watch other comedians to try not to pick up their style and delivery or their writing methods. I want to have my own technique,” said Post.

Post also works with Refried Comedy, which produces Los Angeles shows in El Paso, which help promote the local comedians and the underground scene.

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