Featured Interview: Rosa Escandon
Dads! The Wacky Men Who Helped Create Us
Comedian, feminist, and BanterGirl’s production assistant Rosa Escandon discusses how she went from California to Pennsylvania to New York, her family, and what Donald Trump’s presidency means for comedy. BanterGirl was so excited to sit down with Rosa and hear about her amazing accomplishments and activist attitude.
How did you find yourself in comedy?
I was a weird kid. Don't they all end up in comedy? Can I tell you an embarrassing secret? I started as a poet. And, I wasn't very good. But, in college I started hosting an Open Mic on campus. It was mostly for poets, but there were also comedians and musicians would also come. I started thinking, man, I could do comedy. I even tried out for the college's stand-up team. Can you imagine? A stand-up team? It seems pretty silly now, but maybe I'm just saying that because they rejected me. Somehow, through that rejection, I got connected with an all female sketch group, Pennsylvania's own Bloomers. I became their head writer, and I got hooked on writing comedy. I became the comedy editor for the campus magazine. And, when I graduated, I was, like, shit, I'm not giving up comedy. I moved from Philly to New York. And, without a sketch group to work with, I started to do stand-up. Hopefully, I won't be rejected from here. Right now, I do stand-up, co-host a Comedy-Karaoke show, and I am an editor at The Tusk.
You were raised by two women. Do you work your family dynamic into your stand-up material when you write?
Every comic writes about their life in some way. My family is a huge part of that. There's a stereotype that female comedians always talk about their mom. Well, I really break that. I talk about multiple moms. In all seriousness, I talk about one much more than the other; she's just a wackier character. While I talk about my parents, I like to push back on the idea that my family is fundamentally different. Some people think I have had a radically different and unfathomable life, but, while my parents are LGBTQ, they are also a 50-year-old Jewish woman and an older Hispanic woman from California. They forward me emails, they text me to see if I am safe when an accident happened 100 miles away from me, one still does not know how to hold a phone when she Skypes on it, one asks me who I am dating and says things like, "that sounds like a Jewish name" or "wow, he's swarthy but handsome." In essence, they are middle aged ladies who do middle aged mom things. I've never really known anything else. I recently got a facebook message from a woman in England. She had read an article I had written about my queer moms, and she wanted to talk to me because she and her wife were trying and had never met someone my age with queer moms. I think there is almost a duty to talk about it. And, I am not the only comic with queer parents—Lucas Connolly and Michael Ian Black stand out in my mind—but there are many more. I think my upbringing mostly gave me a queer sensibility. I came out as bisexual in my teens and, since then, I think I have, like, six straight friends. You can notice it in my comedy and in what I find funny. I don't know too much about “them straights,” but I hope they like me, too.
As a side note to this: when I talked about my moms on this podcast, I mentioned that they went to a doctor. I got a text from both of them when they listened to it saying, "We didn't go to a doctor, we just did it at home." So 1) way more than I ever needed to know and 2) there were some bad bitches in the 90s on stereotypical "Turkey baster" flow.
You came from the San Francisco area. What influenced you to make the move to NYC?
I grew up in Richmond, CA and then moved to Oakland, CA. I usually say I'm from Oakland because unless you are a Coach Carter super fan, when you think of Richmond, you probably think Virginia. I want to note this because in 2017 if you ask someone why they left SF, there is probably a good story. When you ask someone why they left Oakland in 2011, not so much. I left Oakland for college in Philadelphia. I had gotten a little money and loved the school. I didn't know much about the East Coast, but I said, “Ok! I can move to Pennsylvania” without actually having seen Pennsylvania. Four years later, when I graduated UPenn, I did whatever other Ivy League 21-year-old douche does, I moved to New York. I didn't actually want to move to New York; it seemed too big and crazy after Philadelphia, but I moved for a job (which I quit after six months). Having an amazing comedy community here was really just icing on the cake.
Do you consider yourself to be a feminist? If so, how do you think feminism influences your life?
Oh hell, yes. I don't trust women who don't consider themselves feminists. I think a lot of people I know would say it makes me an un-fun bitch. I am not sure how to answer this question because feminism isn't something you can separate from my day to day. There is no version of me that isn't a feminist. There is no version of me that isn't a rape survivor. There is no version of me that isn't a woman. I don't think that makes me un-fun, but if it does....I'm not sorry.
Trump has just been sworn into office. How do you think his presidency will affect your creativity and your life?
Ugh. I really hate that guy (if I get black bagged, I blame BanterGirl). A bunch of people have said, "He'll be great for comedy." But, I think he is comedy poison. Everything he does sounds like your uncle pitching a bad Onion headline after finding out "YOU do comedy?!" So, I don't think he'll usher in a new golden age of comedy, but I do think that Americans will have to care more about the news and what is going on in government. I think we will all have to get more political and start standing up more for what we believe in and what we think needs to be happening in Washington. For me, I think that means action, that means protest, that means civil disobedience. I grew up in an area of schools with posters of Malcolm X and murals of the black panthers, and growing up I thought they were heroes. I still do. Every movement can learn a lot for the civil rights movement. I don't care what you are fighting for, you need to read about great movements before you. I think there are a lot of people out there who think that kind of resistance is too much. But, you have a right to protect yourself and your community. To steal from Malcolm, "by any means necessary." So, creatively, I'm a little worried for myself, but I can tell you, when it comes to Trump's America, I am going to be the best ally I can in communities I am not a part of (whether that means start screaming or shut the hell up), and if they come for Queers or Hispanics or Women, they are gonna have to fight me.
If you could live your fantasy life, what would it look like?
How big of a fantasy are we talking here? Cause, like, my smallest is being twitter famous. My largest has to do with parallel universe where we are all unicorns or something and all I have to do is relax on a beach with my other magical friends. In both cases, I am married to my childhood crush, Joey Fatone.
What is something that no one knows about you?
Honestly, I don't think this exists because I am like if a huge blabber mouth and an open book had a baby, so all my usually personal secrets have been revealed, but here are some unpopular opinions: 1) I dislike Harry Potter, 2) I do arguably too much stand up about my rape, 3) I am super insecure when I think people don't like me. You like me, right?