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Comedian Shayla Rivera will be returning to Sacramento to perform at the Punch Line Comedy Club for four nights beginning on Thursday. It’s been over a year since the former aerospace engineer performed at the same venue last February.
Rivera describes her comedy brand as observational. Even though she is, as she puts it, “a Latino, supposedly,” she said that anyone and everyone can enjoy her comedy.
“I do talk a lot about cultural differences, gender differences, whatever strikes me,” Rivera said.
Rivera describes her act as “make fun of myself” kind of comedy. It comes from the truth, she said.
“I might talk about farts,” Rivera said, “nothing brings out more emotion than a fart: anger, embarrassment, laughter.”
She also said she talks about the fact that women can’t stop peeing after having a baby.
“Women are these beautiful creatures, then after we have children we are never dignified again,” Rivera said. “That’s funny.”
Rivera said she is excited about returning to the crowd in Sacramento.
“I really do love Sacramento,” Rivera said, “I know a lot of people say ‘oh, I love coming here’ but I just had such a great time at this club last time I was here.”
Even though Rivera has been doing comedy for 18 years, her career began in aerospace working for NASA’s shuttle program in Houston.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Rivera’s family moved to Texas after she graduated high school. After attending Texas A&M University, Rivera began working for NASA.
Rivera wanted to work with people but use her technical education, she said, so she left NASA and worked for Rosemount Analytical selling liquid and gas analyzers to chemical plants and refineries in the Houston.
Sales lead to motivational speaking and corporate training in stress management because, Rivera said, she wanted to help people.
“That’s where people told me I should try stand up comedy, and I’m like ‘I’m trying to be enlightening. What are you talking about?’”
Rivera said she simply explained life's 'secrets' using everyday mundane examples in her own life.
“My explanations were funny because life and the truth is funny. I acted everything out in a very funny way because I have no shame.” Rivera said.
“I never set out to be a comedian,” Rivera said, “but I realized that aerospace engineering alone was not enough to make my heart sing.”
Rivera eventually tried comedy in November of 1993.
“There’s not a huge leap from motivational speaking to my comedy,” Rivera said, “Comedy is simply devoid of any censure and I enjoy that tremendously.”
Debbie Allen, known for her role on the TV show “Fame,” directed Rivera’s one-woman show, “Rocket Science and Salsa,” in 2005 about Rivera’s journey to comedy.
Rivera also hosted a series on the Oxygen Network called “You’re Not the Man I Married,” that she describes as “a ‘Fear Factor’ for husbands.”
“I miss that show,” Rivera said.
She recently did a special with comedian Paul Rodriguez on Comedy Central called “Comedy Rehab.”
Rivera said the thing that stands out in her mind the most is going out to Iraq and entertaining the troops. “That’s really cool because it’s not about you, it’s about them,” Rivera said.
George Carlin is a comedian that Rivera said she looks up to.
“Carlin took a subject and broke it down in lists of things that related to it then added act outs to his exaggerations and brought magic to the stage,” Rivera said, “he was able to share what it was like to be in Parochial school, like me, and to be a class clown in a way that was just funny.”
Rivera said she is partial to comedy such as Kevin James’. “He would tell a story with vulnerability, just telling the truth and putting it all out there,” Rivera said.
She said she doesn’t enjoy acts that are mean-spirited as much because to really make her laugh it needs to be simple fun.
“I’m not going to preach, I’m not going to tell you who should be elected,” Rivera said, “We’re just going to make fun of everybody.”
“My goal with my act is to make somebody pee in their pants,” Rivera said, “and I have, so come prepared.”
Rivera said to be able to laugh at oneself is where salvation is. “I sound like a preacher, but it’s true,” Rivera said.
“When I help people to forget the everyday woes and worries that we sink into and make them laugh for a while, they have no idea how much they do for me,” Rivera said.
“It’s the best thing in the world to help people laugh for a minute,” Rivera said.
The Punch Line Comedy Club is located at 2100 Arden Way. Rivera will be performing Thursday at 8 PM, Friday at 8 and 10 PM, Saturday at 8 and 10 PM, and Sunday at 7 PM. Tickets can be purchased at www.punchlinesac.com or at the door. The prices range from $13 to $19 depending on the time of the show.
The Punch Line shows are 18 and over, and require a two-drink minimum.