Aida Rodriguez approached stand-up comedy with the perspective of a trainee rather than that of a master. A great first performance at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles built up her pride: she realized soon after with her second set at the Laugh Factory that her being well received at the Orpheum Theatre was beginner’s luck—she had a long way to go. In an interview with Black Hollywood Live host Nick Perdue, Rodriguez said, “People don’t realize the clubs are the game. The open-mics are the practice. TV is the Super Bowl.” Rodriguez sought the opportunity to grow at every turn, no matter the circumstances. Each performance was a chance to test new material.
Rodriguez gained nation-wide attention after earning her spot as a finalist in the eighth season of “Last Comic Standing” on NBC in 2014—though she admitted that at first she rejected the mere thought of competing. She had lost two family members in the span of a few months earlier that year, when her grandmother succumbed to bone cancer after battling the illness for 13 years and her uncle was the victim of a hate crime in Liberty City in her hometown of Miami, Florida. She shouldered past the deaths with the determination of being a beacon of light to her family. She said, “I needed to give my family some hope.” After her appearance on Last Comic Standing, Rodriguez experienced newfound fame. She walked through a door with endless opportunities, one of which she created on her own Rodriguez created a platform in which she hosted a discussion of trending topics with other fellow entertainers. She debuted her radio podcast, Truth Serum in 2015 and has only seen the program grow since.
Rodriguez caught the eye of Executive Producer Wanda Sykes’s scouting staff after they saw a performance in Los Angeles. Rodriguez earned her recognition. She moved to Los Angeles 15 years ago after ending her marriage with former San Diego Chargers Omar Ellison. At first, she struggled to manage her time. Rodriguez juggled a job in the finance sector during the day, comedy during the night, and parenting her two kids full-time. After a year of doing stand-up, Rodriguez received her first television credit and traveled to entertain U.S. troops overseas.
Comedy appealed to Rodriguez at an early age. Born in Boston and raised for the majority of her life in Miami, Rodriguez led a bilingual life, both at home with a Puerto Rican mother and grandmother, and in her community. She listened habitually to Spanish comedians, recalling Cuban comedian Álvarez Guedes as one of her inspirations. But despite aspirations to become an entertainer, for years she suppressed her desires (her mother belittled a career in the entertainment business).
As a teenager she decided to pursue law, leaving home to attend Florida State University. Her family believed in her securing them a future beyond their welfare status. The freedom of living on her own came with heavy family obligations, however, and those began to weigh on her mind: “That pressure broke me, because it never allowed me to develop myself. Even saying that I wanted to be a writer was, like, ‘oh, why do you want to do that? You don’t go to college for that.’” Rodriguez met Ellison during their time at Florida State University. She became pregnant with his child and left Florida State University without graduating.
She shifted her sights from law to a modeling career and the care of her new family, but Rodriguez soon realized that married life left her unfulfilled. She decided to leave Ellison, modeling, and Florida behind. She shared her intent to move to California with her maternal grandmother. Rodriguez said, “When she understood my love for the arts, she said, ‘if you do it, you do it right. There is no plan B to plan A. Si lo vas hacer, para adelante.’” Rodriguez received her grandmother’s blessing. She recalled her grandmother saying, “Que Dios te bendiga. That was the permission that I needed to come do what I wanted.”
Stay Tuned for Part Two of HipLatina’s profile of funny woman Aida Rodriguez.