Comedian Pablo Francisco has performed all over the world, with appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Mad TV. Known for his spot-on impressions and high-energy performances, Francisco is in town for a weekend of shows that kick off at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Denver Improv. Westword caught up with Francisco to discuss Dog the Bounty Hunter, performing comedy overseas, and Shotgun WIllie's in a phone chat peppered with digressions and spot-on vocal impressions that words alone can't really capture.
Westword: Your last special, They Put it Out There , came out in 2011. Do you have another hour in the works?
Pablo Francisco: Man, that special seems like it happened yesterday. Time flies so fast. But, yeah, I've got plenty of material I'm working on for the next one. We're working on a special -- we may call it Funkin Funny -- for Comedy Central. Probably like another year, though, because there's a huge waiting list. We're changing up the format of the Pablito show a bit more. The Internet is out there, and it's making tons of money for some people and losing money for a lot more people. We're teaming up with a guy named Steve Kramer, he's an old friend of mine who was on a television show called Hype with Frank Caliendo. Steve's like a cruise comic with an edge. A good cruise comic, though, not like one of those Norwegian lines. He's gonna be here this week and get crazy with the locals; we'll be putting stuff up on my Youtube channel. It's a beautiful thing, that Youtube.
Do you have a local opener?
Yeah, Ron Ferguson. He's a funny guy. I asked him, "So, what's your deal, are you Indian or Hawaiian or something?" And he goes, "I don't know, I was adopted." I thought that was hilarious. He doesn't know who he is! Anyway, he's a great local guy. We got him and Chris Fonseca. We're gonna make the shows really crazy, and do something a bit different than other comedy places. We're also going to make fun of Dog the Bounty Hunter, One Direction and Justin Bieber, and the stupid Plavix commercials that end with the guy describing the side effects so fast he sounds like Busta Rhymes. [Francisco goes into Busta Rhymes legalese impression that's too fast to transcribe].
Dog the Bounty Hunter is a great local reference. He and his wife pop up in Westword all the time.
He's a convicted felon! He doesn't have the right to vote, but he has every right right to go to your house, kick down the door and spray mace in your face? That's crazy.
I have no idea. I know it's quite a bit easier to get a bail recovery license here than it is in most other states. Colorado's still a little Wild West-y in that way.
You know what, though? It's a hot wild west. There's a lot of hot ladies out there in Denver. People there are educated like nobody's business. It's cold, but I think that some of the best comedians come out of Denver. It's a fun place to be. Marijuana's legal now? I can walk up to a cop and say, "Hey cop, check out my bag of pot?"
Theoretically. Our cops are still cops though, so it'd be dicey.
We'll see what happens. There's no better place to run it through than Denver. Lots of responsible people there. We want the stoners to come on down and start the party at the Pablo show. I know it's kind of a strange area of town. [In a movie-trailer voice] It's a biker town. It used to be a ghetto. Used to be a 'hood.
They've polished it up a little bit. It's next to a Toby Keith restaurant now, if that gives you an idea.
Really? Well, hey, go to Toby Keith's, go to the mall and then come to my show. If Toby Keith fans want to come on out, that's a beautiful thing.
You've been all over the world, from Sweden to South Africa. Do you think your performance style transcends the language barrier?
Good question. I guess I'd say it just comes from being stupid-silly in a sense. I'm a human cartoon. There's no need for me to talk about politics; I'm not involved in politics, I don't know any more about it than anyone else with a newspaper does. I don't want to put people in that vicious circle. I think people like my act because it's so dumb that they don't have to think. I talk about jealous girlfriends and boyfriends, my crazy uncles and shit. We goof off. It's not meant to be taken seriously, but I do think they're getting something out of it. There'll be some donations of information, some good callbacks to throw at people about what I've learned. When people come out to my show, they don't become fans. We bond. Plus, every country has English as a second language, so I've got it easy. Every once in a while I get guys coming up to me to say [latino voice], "I wish I spoke a little more English," but it's mostly relateable to everybody.
What do you typically do with your downtime when you're performing out-of-town shows? Do you get a chance to go out and see the cities where you're performing?
Okay, this is what I do: I get up at like 5:30 in the morning and I do radio until 10 a.m. After that, I go on Pornhub.com live cam. I buy all these wigs from Amazon and play practical jokes on webcam girls. My buddy has green screen so sometimes it looks like I'm in a hyper-space tunnel. I'm putting something together with it, but we're still working on it. Then I'll do the show, and then probably head over to Shotgun Willie's to go see some titties with everybody.
I've read interviews where you said you remember taping yourself doing impressions as a kid. At what point did you decide to focus your skill-set on standup?
Well, I ran out of money to go to college up at USIU International University for film. I went for a few semesters, then couldn't afford it anymore and I was bumming out because I wanted to be a film director. Then I met Jamie Foxx, back then he was only 21 and still went by the name Eric Bishop. He was playing with my stereo in my dorm room because he knew my roommate. We started talking and hanging out on campus and he told me he was a comic and a musician. He went out and auditioned to open for Babyface and he didn't get it, and I remember he was so mad that he went so far out of his way, so he decided that we might as well go to the Comedy Store. He was telling all the jokes, I was just following him at that point. He left a demo tape in the cassette player of my car and then I gave it back to him and we became friends. Then all of a sudden, boom! he went on to be the hugest star ever. So he inspired me to get back out there.
Do you remember the first place you did standup? How did it go?
It was a comedy contest in a place called Black Angus Fun Bar. I was seventeen, and I borrowed my brother's license to enter. I did six minutes and took first place and I couldn't believe it. The other comics already had like 8"x10" headshots and shit. So it became a hobby and then it became a career.
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Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.