Stand-up special or biography? As it turns out it was a little of both. Before this DVD I did not know who Paul Rodriguez was; now I am proud to say I’m a bit of a fan. His stand-up, Just for the Record, gave an informative insight into his rise from migrant worker to professional comedian. He exudes an air confidence from beginning to end, but more than that, he breathes soul into his act with stories that make you feel something within yourself and that is something I have not felt from a comedy special in a very long time.
Rodriguez has been a fixture on the comedy circuit for years, getting his start at “The Comedy Store” in West Hollywood, where such notables as Richard Pryor and Robin Williams performed regular sets. Rodriguez first gained notice on the ABC television series, A.K.A. Pablo. Despite the show’s cancellation after only seven episodes, Rodriguez continued to work regularly with guest star roles on Golden Girls, as well as a yearly long stint as the host of The Newlywed Game.
In Just for the Record, Rodriguez’s latest in a long line of stand-ups, he lays it all out for you. Aided by a large projector screen in the shape of an old school television set in the background, Rodriguez begins with an in depth summary of his childhood. How his family had to constantly move from city to city, the differing relationships he had with his mother and his father, and the childhood life lesson he learned about not judging a book by its cover.
Then comes the heart of the show: Rodriguez retells about witnessing a drive-by shooting where a young girl died and the role he played in bringing her killers to justice. During this time, there will be no jokes told, and there will be no laughter heard, but an important message will be brought to the audience’s attention: the importance of doing the right thing, no matter the cost. It was in this moment that I saw the value of this special. The comedy was all well and good, but this was what set Rodriguez apart and gave him significance in my eyes.
The remainder of the set returns to standard format, dedicated to the time period of Rodriguez’s rise from performing at comedy clubs to headlining his own specials. He references several celebrities such as George Lopez and Joan Rivers as well as Johnny Carson. During this portion of his set, Rodriguez gives a refreshing account of his experience rubbing elbows with some of Hollywood’s elite, allowing us a unique peek behind the veil.
Overall the special holds its own, the jokes are worthy of laughs (although sometimes it seems the jokes become secondary to the telling of the story), and it shows tremendous heart. Paul Rodriguez has perfected his craft and found the balance between entertaining the crowd and sending a message.