By Annabella Campos
The Hot Tamales Live show has had a great trajectory in Hollywood. Started in 2002 by producer, comedian, writer, and actress Kiki Melendez (who early on partnered with a young Eva Longoria as producer) to provide a platform for female comics of all backgrounds to gain exposure and stage time. Melendez has now partnered with Jeru Tillman’s Inside Jokes Comedy Club to continue presenting her Hot Tamales Live shows in the heart of Hollywood every second Sunday of the month, which this month will be, Sunday, February 9th.
“We are so excited to have the show at the Inside Jokes Comedy Club,” said Melendez. “The audience in Los Angeles has been awesome and has shown us their love. The venue is wonderful.” Melendez confirmed that Hot Tamales Live at the Inside Jokes has been the most successful in the show’s history.
Co-founder of Inside Jokes Comedy Club, Tillman was enthusiastic, “Inside Jokes Comedy Club’s goal is to be a place where a diverse set of comedians can have the opportunity to showcase their talents, a place where casting agents and producers can come together and meet that talent.” He goes on to add that working with Melendez has been amazing. “The Hot Tamales Live show has garnered a lot of success. Kiki definitely knows how to bring in talent.”
The comedy show gained its name from Melendez’s introduction on stage as “One Hot Tamale” when she was a young comic. Soon the name stuck and “I knew then that if one day I had a show, I would call it Hot Tamales,” she recounted.
Showcasing the diversity of the comediennes has always been Melendez’s focus and Melendez has featured over 100 comedians from coast to coast, making this show the longest running show in the United States to feature female stand ups. The comics that take the stage throughout the course of the evening are Latino, Black, Asian, Persian and Jewish. However, Melendez always makes sure to include at least one male comic in the lineup.
“Men and women can enjoy Hot Tamales Live. The show is all around entertaining and doesn’t have the specificity of a female only show. It’s highly entertaining,” Tillman exclaimed.
“This is not your standard stand up comedy show,” Melendez says. Proof of that is Melendez’s ability to mix it up with celebrity participation, making it a true Hollywood event. For her debut show at Inside Jokes last month, her “celebrity stand up comic” was actor Emilio Rivera (Sons of Anarchy) who early on in his career did stand up. “No one knew that Emilio started in stand up, so when he went up there he blew people away,” Melendez said.
The celebrity participation extends into the audience, with attendance at last month’s show including Nadine Velasquez (Major Crimes), Jorge Diaz (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones), Chelsea Rendon (A Better Life), Noemi Gonzalez (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones), Justina Machado (The Call), and Lisa Vidal (The Division).
Melendez is also currently a host on L.A.’s 96.3 Latino, which serves a as a space to promote the show and her other project which include the docu-comedy film, The Journey of a Female Comic/La Trayectoria De Una Comediante. Produced through her production company Latin Hollywood Films, in association with Lion’s Kill Productions, the film is based on Melendez life as a stand up, following a Latina comic in Hollywood as she navigates a tough career. Melendez’a ability to bring the celebrity quotient to her projects is evident in the cameos made by celebrity friends which include Esai Morales, Lupe Ontiveros, Maria Conchita Alonso, Jacob Vargas, Nadine Velazquez, Sofia Vergara, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, John Travolta, Shakira, and Mark Anthony.
A labor of love, this project has taken her four years to complete. “The truth is that it does really take a village to complete a project. My friends believed in me.” The film is co-directed by Melendez and Erick Crespo and written by Melendez with Lyn McCullough. The release details for the film will be posted soon on the film’s website www.journeyofafemalecomic.com. The reaction to advance screenings of The Journey of a Female Comic has prompted Jeru Tillman and Melendez to begin developing a new comedy docu-drama entitled Hot Tamales Live: The Illegal Alien Comedy Tour which they hope to shoot in Arizona.
As for her Hot Tamales Live show, Melendez confirmed plans for taking the show to the east coast soon. For now Melendez is looking focused the next show in Los Angeles at Inside Jokes. The upcoming Hot Tamales Live on February 9th will feature Amy Anderson, Vargas Mason, April Macie, Tiffany Haddish, Aida Rodriguez and Erik Rivera with special celebrity guest Nadine Velasquez.
Inside Jokes Comedy Club located in Theatre 6 of the TCL Theatres, formerly known as the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. The show starts at 8pm; doors open at 7pm. More information at www.insidejokesla.com.