Comedy on Campus


    Christela Alonzo and Paul Verghese/Photo by Mary Kroeck

    Comedienne Cristela Alonzo visited NEIU on Oct. 1, in celebration of Spirit Week and Hispanic Heritage Month.

    “Northeastern doesn’t get a lot of bigger name people to come,” said Veronica Rodriguez, Director of Student Leadership Development. “We were really excited to work with [Cristela] to get her to come…and give Northeastern students that traditional college experience that people get to see at other schools. “

    Paul Varghese, of “Last Comic Standing” fame, opened for Alonzo. His routine mainly describes his experiences of being Indian and Christian.

    “For the last six years every Indian American gets this at least once a month, ‘Oh my god you’re Indian? Have you seen ‘Slumdog Millionaire?’” joked Varghese. To highlight why this is wrong he continued, “Oh you’re ugly. Have you seen ‘Shrek?’”

    Alonzo’s comedy centers on her life as a Catholic Latina. At one point, she asked the crowd what they liked most about NEIU. The responses were education, everything and awesome professors. When she asked what was annoying, audience members answered food–like fake Subway–and parking. The crowd was momentarily silent when she asked what people like to do for fun. Then the crowd responded with “go to Boystown” or “watch ‘Cristela.’”

    Alonzo was the first Latina to create, write, produce and star in her own network television show, aptly named “Cristela.” The show only aired for one season before it was cancelled. While Alonzo said she felt discouraged by the show being taken off the air, she is working on another one. Though she’s uncertain of the new show’s future, she does have faith.

    “I believe every prayer is answered,” said Alonzo. “Even if the answer is no.”

    Gary Hernandez, a secondary education major, didn’t really know much about Alonzo before the performance.

    “I found out about it today,” said Hernandez. “It sounded cool. …It was hilarious.”

    Hernandez said he appreciated the event because it was an opportunity for students to get more involved. Marianyelli Hanna, coordinator for NEIU’s TRIO program, agreed.

    “It was a great event to meet new people and see some friends–alumni–that I haven’t seen in a while,” said Hanna. “It provided a sense of community.”

    Shortly before Alonzo wrapped up her set, she reminded the audience that she grew up in a border town in Texas, her mom emigrated from Mexico and her family doesn’t have a wealthy background. She mentioned that she liked doing shows on college campuses because she wants people to know that if she can have the career she has built, others can do it too.

    “My mom came here chasing a better life for her kids,” said Alonzo. “If I can have that chance [to chase my dream] than everyone here can have that chance.”

    Rodriguez believes Alonzo’s story is one a lot of NEIU students can relate to. She hopes Alonzo’s message inspires others.

    “It was a great message to our students–that you can do it,” said Rodriguez. “That just because you came from a poor background, just because you didn’t [have] the most opportunities that you still can make something of yourself.”