Gina Brillon is the latest comedy up-and-comer to hit Richmond. Gabe Santamaria caught up with her before her appearance this weekend at Sandman Comedy Club to talk parenthood, Latino cultures, and her new special, The Floor Is Lava.
This week I got to talk to one of my favorite comics, Gina Brillon. I saw her latest special, The Floor Is Lava, on Amazon and it really won me over. We talked at 5:30 on a Thursday, and throughout the interview she was tending to her newborn. We talked about her start in comedy, motherhood, and her special. She’s super funny and I definitely recommend that you catch her at Sandman Comedy Club this weekend. Here’s our conversation.
Gabe: You started doing comedy at the age of seventeen in New York City. What was that like?
Gina: At seventeen, I was really mainly performing, like, skits and little things for a lot of my classmates in school. Like sometimes, I would just grab a hairbrush and pretend it was a microphone and just do like five to ten minutes on stuff that involves school. Like, ‘Did you see what Mr. Fines did in fifth period?’ So, you know, all the stuff that my friends would know. It was kind of my first couple of attempts at standup. And then by the time I was eighteen and graduating, I hit the stage for the first time. The official stage this time, not the stage at my school, although that’s still the stage but I guess it’s at Stand-Up New York. So that was the first club. It was exciting. You know what? The first time I went up, I was too excited and too amped up to be nervous. I was so excited to finally get on stage. And all of my friends were there. They had all come out to see me, so I had that extra confidence. I wasn’t really scared at all until my second time on stage.
Gabe: That’s where you had to win over a bunch of strangers?
Gina: Exactly. That’s when it was nerve-wracking, because I was like, ‘Wait, none of my friends are here. Oh, I don’t know if I can do this.’
Gabe: That sounds terrifying. But still, five to ten minutes at seventeen years old is impressive. People have a hard time doing that in their twenties.
Gina: Yeah, I mean it was, definitely. If you looked at me as a kid, I was such a shy kid. I think it surprised so many people.
Gabe: How’d your family feel about you wanting to become a comedian?
Gina: Well, my parents luckily have always been super supportive. They always knew I was funny. And so they’ve always been like, ‘You’re going to be on TV. You’re about to hear my son in a second. Sorry, I’m single-mommin’ it this weekend. My husband’s away for work.
Gabe: No worries here.
Gina: My son has many opinions about other people taking up my time.
Gabe: Okay well I’ll try to make this as quick as possible.
Gina: Ain’t that just like a man.
Gabe: I’m putting that in the article. [Laughs]
Gina: [Laughs] Okay.
Gabe: Well since we’re on it, I noticed you incorporate a lot of your family life into your standup. Is there baby material yet?
Gina: Oh yeah. There’s a lot of baby material. There’s going to be more. My son has to have a sense of humor. I have a sense of humor. I can’t… I better not have an unfunny child. He needs to realize that this family is all about using the last year to heal. I mean, I don’t know if I’ll go the traditional Latino route, as in tease my son into insecurities, but I think I will definitely let him experiment with humor, have fun with humor, and heal with humor, so that he has confidence.
Gabe: One of the things I love about your standup is that you do break down some Latino stereotypes. And sometimes it’s like, ‘This is dead on, that totally happens.’ And then sometimes like, ‘We’re not like this, we’re not all like this…’
Gina: Well, we’ve got to set some people straight. Like what I realize too is, you know, since my husband is white, there’s a lot of things that people don’t know about our culture. About our various Latino cultures. They’re very different. Even the fact that there are different Latino cultures just baffles them.
Gabe: I watched your latest special, The Floor Is Lava.
Gina: My special, baby, which is out on Amazon.
Gabe: Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s great. And you have a very touching closer to it.
Gina: Yeah, man. That took me a lot of practice without crying through that, just so everybody knows.
Gabe: You took a minute to be serious too. Which is hard for a comedian sometimes.
Gina: Sometimes it can be hard, because… it’s so funny. Those moments of comedy, I think, are some of the best moments. Some of my favorite specials have some moment like that. That’s a totally real moment. And I think at the end, when I have a platform like Amazon, when I have a platform like HBO, there’s always something I want to add. Except for, I think, Easily Offended, I didn’t quite have the time to add it at the end. But there’s always something meaningful I want to add to a special at the end, while I have everybody seeing.
It was important for me to get that message out in The Floor Is Lava, because it’s been on my mind for so long. Trying to figure out, where can I place this message? And then I got this opportunity to do the special, and I was like, okay, this is the perfect time. I had just lost a very close friend of mine. And so it was on my mind even more, to push people towards their passion, push people towards their dreams, and just give them a little more hope. Especially since — I mean, the beauty of it, [the special] having come out during the pandemic, during such a difficult time for so many people, and being able to share that message with them at that time. It just felt like the universe handed me a win right there. Because so many people were struggling mentally, financially, physically during the pandemic. And I got a lot of wonderful messages about how that particular part of the special really touched and motivated them.
Gabe: Anything you wanna say to the people in Richmond?
Gina: Richmond! Y’all better get ready. Because it’s not just me coming down there. It’s me and my best friend, James Goff. We’re coming down there and we are ready to take you all to comedy church. We are ready to have a blast with you guys. We are so ready for these shows coming up, and I hope y’all came out to have a good time. Like, if you didn’t come out to have a good time, please go home — because I will send you home. But come out to have a good time and you will not be disappointed. I guarantee you the energy is going to be amazing when me and my best friend perform together. Well, we are on the same shows. The energy is just infectious, so come out and have a great time.
You can hear more from Gina on her podcast, A Mess In Progress Podcast. You can also check out her latest special on Amazon, The Floor Is Lava, and if you’re looking for a good time, go see Gina Brillon at Sandman Comedy Club this weekend. Shows are at 7 and 9:30 Thursday through Saturday, featuring James Goff opening and Francesca Lyn hosting. Get there an hour early for drinks and beverages. Tickets are available at Sandman Comedy Club.