Ramon Rivas II: Working Hard at Being Funny

Ramon Rivas II [photo: Yoko Haraoko]
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Perhaps you've heard the old adage (and old joke) -  "Dying is easy, comedy is hard."

That's rung true for Lorain native Ramon Rivas II.  He landed his first cable TV special last year but it's taken him years to scrape together any kind of living as a professional comedian.  

"About a year into [doing] comedy I started treating it like a full-time, non-paying job.  It still mostly is, just every once in a while something comes up that gives me a little bit of money," Rivas said.

One of those opportunities happened last summer when Rivas's first half-hour special broadcast on Comedy Central, which was a dream come true for the struggling comedian.

"I used to download Comedy Central Presents, just the audio, and I would be listening to these specials, the ones with the trumpet [sings the theme song.]  Then fast forward, I got to do a Comedy Central special," he said.

These days Rivas is spending a lot more time in Los Angeles, where he recently relocated, playing the city's many comedy clubs.  He wants people to know that getting to this point is hard work with lots of nights sleeping on other people's couches.

"It is work.  There's this weird perception where people expect to do it and be good immediately," he said.

Starting this Wednesday, Rivas returns to Northeast Ohio to host his annual Accidental Comedy Festival, taking place for the first time at Hilarities Comedy Club.

He believes Cleveland could become a hotbed for stand-up comedy.

"I realized that the only thing keeping Cleveland from being as vibrant a comedy scene as Chicago was just people having shows and people coming to shows.  Like that was it.  It's just a room, there's nothing inherently special about any place," Rivas said.

Rivas hopes now that the Accidental Comedy Festival is taking the stage of Hilarities for the first time, more local comedy fans will turn out.

"I just want a fraction of the support of other things.  Like 10 percent of the least-attended Indians game would be a sold-out comedy festival," Rivas said.

Ramon Rivas II's sixth annual Accidental Comedy Festival happens Wednesday, August 30 through Sunday, September 3 at Hilarities 4th Street Theater on East 4th Street.

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