We had the good fortune of connecting with Irene Morales and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Irene, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor behind my success is how people feel and I want people to feel happy and less alone. If my comedy, in whichever way you experience it, makes you feel better and less alone, then that stand-up set, movie, podcast, project is a success.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for 13 years. What sets me apart from other artists is I think the same thing that sets each artist apart: their own voice. My experience and the way I interpret it and then share it will always be different from anyone else. I always felt left out growing up because I didn’t “look” stereotypically Cuban and because I hadn’t found my community of artists/freaks yet so I was just a lone freak, freaking around in Miami, just trying to figure myself out. My art/stand-up comes from me just trying to figure myself out. I’m most proud and excited about the growth I’ve made, and will continue to make, as an artist. I’m so glad that 21-year-old me finally signed up for a bringer show at the Miami Improv because 14-year-old me had been writing jokes, not knowing when I’d ever actually say them. But in terms of a tangible/metric of success that I’m proud and excited about: I got to be in an indie-movie recently that is now on Amazon called “Asking For It”, which was written, directed and produced by women. I was so excited to receive the script, audition for the role and get it, and then have the freedom on set to try out new jokes/bits/gags and watch them make it into the final cut of the movie and then watch our movie go from film festival to film festival and finally onto Amazon which, during a pandemic with no physical premiere date in site, was the best thing we could’ve hoped for. I’m also proud that I’m passed at and work regularly at one of best comedy clubs in New York City: New York Comedy Club. It’s such a great feeling having NYCC as my home club and seeing my picture up on the wall next to a lot of my friends and people I look up to. I’m also proud to get booked on Brooklyn shows and “alt” shows and watch my material work with different audiences. I have the so many bookers and producers to thank, they know who they are (sending you all a squish from far away.) How did I get to where I am professionally? Work. Failing and trying and failing again but failing better. Studying comedy and relating it back to my own on ways I can improve, and most recently, just learning to love the cracks because that really is where the light comes in. And the cracks can be anything from “the industry” not loving you enough or your own self-doubt and pushing through it regardless. Learning to love your cracks is something I’m still working on, but the little wax on, wax off moments I have gathered has been good so far. What do I want the world to know about my brand and story? The importance of loving yourself and others along the way, regardless of the cracks – that’s where I’m at in this point of my story and while my story will continue to change as I grow I think my “brand” of making people feel happy and less alone will remain.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I realize this is Shoutout LA but since I live in NYC I’ve give you my NYC week long itinerary (if you’d like me to make a wishlist for LA I will!) Suspending the reality of the pandemic we’re living in – I would tailor the itinerary depending on which one of my friends is coming to visit: Have they been here before or are we knocking out all the touristy stuff first? Are they artsy and need to hit up all the museums or are they more of a foodie but also their cousin wants them to find the new (fake) Gucci purse on Canal Street? Regardless, these are some of my favorite places in NYC, in no particular order: 1. Katz’s Deli: I know it might be “touristy” at this point but I really do love their steak fries and how the place stays open late because French fries taste better late at night. The guys that work there take no shit but they’re somehow still endlessly patient considering the amount of idiots that roll through there every hour who suddenly don’t know how lines work. It’s also so great to just get a seat in the far back and people watch. 2. Central Park, near 60th Street and 5th Avenue: My first job in NYC was selling sunglasses at Barneys New York and on my lunch breaks I’d get a sandwich or salad and sit in the park and people watch. There’s also this food truck on 61st and Madison, I think called Tony’s Greek, and everyone who worked at the fancy stores around there would line up and get incredible great food at good prices. The burger isn’t really advertised well on the menu but it can cure any hangover. 3. Isle of Capri: I almost don’t want to put this in here because it’s my mom’s and I’s secret little Italian spot but, it’s great and cozy and consistent and it’s usually just us and some old biddies, we did see Mr. Big there though, once! And my mom’s friend shamelessly took a selfie with him while we looked on, mortified. The only thing better than the food there is the service, Olive Garden copied their motto from them. 4. Maria Hernandez Park: This is a park near my apartment and since moving here 6 six years ago I’ve lived in 4 different apartments (not counting my friend Diego’s couch who I crashed on for my first month here, thank you again Diego!) but still within the same zip code: 11237, where this park is pretty much at the center of. There’s always so much happening there with the basketball and racquet ball courts, the dog park (sectioned off between little dogs and little dogs who want to play with big dogs) cute skater guys, and people like me, who are just taking it all in. 5. New York Public Library in the West Village: I know everyone freaks out about the NYPL on 5th Ave but I went to get a new card library card because my wallet had gotten stolen at Trader Joe’s (can you believe it?!) and I immediately felt at home. Maybe this is when you realize I’m a huge dork (took you long enough) but there’s just something quiet and welcoming about walking in there and even if you’re not going to check out a book because you’re visiting you can still pick one up and get a good sniff in. 6. Comedy Cellar: I feel like whoever is coming to visit me would probably end up watching me perform at some point (out of their own volition!) but if they hadn’t been to the Comedy Cellar yet I’d take them there, ideally to the MacDougal location. Before I moved up here I’d visit every year and do as many mics as I could and then treat myself to a night at the Cellar on MacDougal. I think I’ll always have a crush on Dave Attell and he usually performs there. I know there are more places that I’m just blanking out on at the moment because truly I begin to panic whenever I’m asked to plan things when I really just need a minute to review my notes, and this exercise is now inspiring me to keep a running Google Doc of things to see, do and eat in NYC; once it’s safe to run around again.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh my gosh, there have been so many incredible people and experiences that have been guiding me like breadcrumbs along my way but I can’t imagine where I’d be without my mom (super cheesy, I know) And she hasn’t exactly supported in me in the conventional way you come to think of support. In fact she still sends me job openings at Bacardi and Fedex to be a sales rep even though I have a movie on Amazon and I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for 13 years. I think because she’s an immigrant and I’m first generation she wants me to be a doctor or a lawyer or marry one and a comedian isn’t any of those. But when I had an important show at the Hollywood Improv (in Florida) she came (and sat in the back, mortified) and when I told her I was moving to New York City to pursue comedy she was sad but ultimately gave me her blessing and knew it was a long time coming. So in her not-so-supportive way, she helped me realize that comedy is absolutely what I want to do with my life, even if I have to fold jeans in a closet to get there (which I did for 5 years.) I’ve also had incredible bosses who let me skip out on work for auditions and would let me wear sunglasses while I worked because I’d get headaches from lack of sleep and who just accepted me as my little freak, OCD self and loved me anyway. (Shoutout: Claudia Paratore, Christopher Lacy, Alfred Griffin and Jill Black I love you forever.) The friends and mentors that’ve I’ve made through comedy, I can’t even put into words how amazing they are but I continue to wake up every day and feel like the luckiest girl in the world because I’m endlessly inspired and grateful for them, always. (File this whole question under cheddar cheese, please.)
Sandy Honig, Phil Provencio, Mindy Tucker, Stephanie Meyer Senior, Olga Vazquez,