Entertainment

How To Make It In America or: What I Learned From Watching “Lopez Tonight”


by Lucas Molandes.

I’ve made plenty of excuses for why I can never find steady work in this country. Sure, I have limited skills and no resume, and sure I bite and pee when cornered, but I’m sure there has to be a more legit explanation for my inability to find employment. One day, while gazing into the mirror, I had a moment of clarity: my half-Mexican background was keeping me from being accepted by middle-America. If I was to make it in this dog-eat-dog world, I had to flip the script.

At that point, I adopted the tactic of storming out of every job interview, threatening to report supposed discrimination to the the NCAA. “You say, ‘two years of QuickBook experience required.’ All I hear is ‘not white enough!’ People like you are why Mexicans can’t make it in this country!” Most people cowered and offered to hire me, but who wants to work for someone so willing to flip-flop?

One interviewer, however, countered my aggressive, in-your-face strategy by saying that a “whole-Mexican” had, in fact, made a name for himself in this country. I brushed off his attempt to placate me as nothing more than Richard Ramirez propaganda or an urban legend (no pun intended). It turns out he was right all along.

One night, a few months later, I’d set my alarm for the “wrong 12 o’clock” and woke up during the monologue of Lopez Tonight. I was shocked by what I saw: someone who understood my struggle that wasn’t Conan. Since then, I’ve come to see how George has given hope to a whole generation of Mexicans. Yes, suburban America will accept us if we blandly follow a set of rules that ride socially acceptable stereotypes while not appearing too uppity.

Luckily, my loyal-first time readers, I wrote some of the rules down so I could share them with you:

“He thinks he’s people!”

Anyone with a “year-round tan” must dress in the traditional white-man garb: a suit. Whether you’re addressing the nation about marital indiscretions, starting feuds with Kirstie Alley, or talking to Justin Beiber about how tall he’s gotten since the last time you saw him, suits are the perfect outfit to reassure middle America – “yes, I am ethnic, but I know my place.” Sure, the idea of wearing sleeves is repulsive, but employers love a man in a suit.

“It’s okay, I have a Mexican friend”

As a bonus, the benevolent, non-ethnic person who hires you will feel like they’re giving back to the community. Having you as their ethnic friend will provide them with street cred that makes it okay for them to crack wetback jokes on the golf course, while you stand in the background, smiling. This relationship will take you far as long as you don’t bother them with questions about health insurance or “when do I get a break?” The wounds caused by Cesar Chavez are still fresh, and topics involving worker’s rights will make your boss wonder if you actually realize how lucky you are to have a job these days.

“Looking out for yourself can advance your people if you are a credit to your race”

In an office setting, the role of a Mexican is tantamount to that of a geisha’s. Be pleasant, have a nicely groomed mustache, and keep your mouth shut unless you’re spilling secrets about other minorities. Uncle Tom had a cabin, you have the office with a window to think about…

“Shooting finger guns in the air”

In the work place, feel free to sprinkle your “well-spoken” conversation with as much playful, clichéd jargon as you can. Words like mijo, abuelo, and huevos are just a few socially acceptable examples to chose from. Also, remember, when you say these words, sounding like Speedy Gonzales (voice by Mel Blanc) will score extra points with superiors who may have originally thought you were a “terrorist”. In the eyes of white management, the devil you know is better than the devil you’re currently in three wars with. You know what I mean, vato? It’s up to us to make stereotypes socially acceptable.

“Humor” – Optional

Because of Tu Vez weekly column, I’m going to make more money than I know what to do with (lottery tickets). But it’s not about the money for me. This is about paying homage to George by playfully throwing my half-Mexican heritage under the bus to disguise blatant, politically-incorrect, ignorant blogging as politically-correct, good-natured cheese-ballism, hombres! Isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery? If Freddie Prinze were alive to see Lopez Tonight, I’m sure he’d kill himself out of respect to how far George is pushing the envelope today. The best I can hope for is paying that forward.

Now, If you’ll excuse me, I have to listen to “Lowrider” while practicing my mumblety-peg – a new stereotype I’m working on. You’re welcome, middle America.

Lucas Molandes is a stand-up comedian that has made appearances at the prestigious Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” and CNN”s “Not Just Another Cable News Show.”

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