Comedian Monique Marvez stars in her fourth Showtime special, the third edition of the Showtime comedy showcase, Even More Funny Women of a Certain Age, with Teri Hatcher serving as host.
And Marvez is joined by Carole Montgomery, Wendy Liebman, Leighann Lord, and Marsha Warfield, who deliver hilarious sets focusing on a wide variety of subjects.
Marvez has made her career in stand-up while also working as a writer, producer, and radio talk show host, first in Indianapolis, then Jack FM in San Diego, and finally at talk radio behemoth KFI 640 in Los Angeles.
An enigmatic and versatile comedian, Monique is a brainy Miami-adjacent Coral Gables kid who effortlessly straddles the non-Hispanic comedy audience and the solidly Latino audiences who appreciate her perfect Spanish and withering gaze of the absurdities of pop culture and life.
Marvez comfortably dwells in all mediums, from radio to TV and on stage. Appearing on HBO, Comedy Central, ABC, PBS, hosted Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve from South Beach, her Showtime experience before this latest Funny Women of a Certain Age special this week includes three past specials on the network: The Latin Divas of Comedy, Snoop Dogg Presents the Bad Girls of Comedy, and her one-hour special, Not Skinny, Not Blonde, based on her critically-acclaimed memoir.
Marvez was also sought out and chosen by author John Gray to write his Broadway-bound touring show based on Men Are From Mars; Women Are From Venus.
The anchor of Monique’s show is the disconnect between men and women, especially in their relationships, as she artfully gauges the temperature in the room and hones in on the unspoken thought bubbles we all have. Her humor is sharp and full of observational wit, seasoned by her 30 years of improv skills. Monique has the intelligence to tailor a performance on the spot, working the audience right into her routine.
Her comic inspirations come from Carol Burnett, Lily Tomlin, George Carlin, and Richard Pryor. She stood out on Snoop Dogg’s Bad Girls of Comedy for Showtime that featured Tiffany Haddish and Luenell. Also, her critically acclaimed 2013 stand-up special for the network, called Not Skinny Not Blonde, also streamed on Netflix.
Monsters & Critics spoke to Monique Marvez this week about Showtime’s Even More Funny Women of a Certain Age special, and got the “Skinny” from the “Not Blonde.”
Monsters & Critics: How did this particular Showtime special come about, and how did they find you?
Monique Marvez: That’s a great story. Carole Montgomery and I have had this mutual admiration society for 25 years, not even kidding. She used to do a show at The Riviera in Las Vegas called Crazy Girls with Steve Schirripa.
Carole is a sweetheart, a wonderful person. And she has always kept an eye out for me. In March of last year, I got a text from her that said to give her a call. We hadn’t spoken for 20 plus years. And she said, “I’m doing this Funny Women of a Certain Age special, the third one, and it’s very important. Teri Hatcher is going to be the host. I want you on it, and Showtime does too.”
I was flattered and delighted. And Carole asked, “Will you do it?” I said, “Carole, you sent the Bat signal. I’ll do anything you want.” I said, “done.”
Then we got pushed back. There were a lot of challenges in the filming of this. We were supposed to film on July 20, and we got pushed back. My brother died on July 22. I’m thinking, how am I going to film a special, I just lost my brother, but I kept thinking life is happening for you and not to you.
And Carole was disheartened when we got pushed back because of a COVID situation. And I just kept saying, “Carole, there’s a reason life is happening for us, not to us.” And by the time taping day came, the two of us were ready and loaded for bear. I felt I was so in the moment doing my set. I couldn’t tell you what I said. I don’t recall the material I had prepared for it. I knew what I wanted to say, but now, I do not even remember it.
M&C: This is your fourth Showtime special?
Monique Marvez: Yes, it is. And I’m so blessed because I’ve been three of the most diverse ensembles. I’ve been Latin Diva. I’ve been an urban Snoop Dogg’s Bad Girl, and I’ve been a “Woman of a Certain Age.” And then I had my one-hour special, Not Skinny, Not Blonde. I’m not Hollywood and never have been.
M&C: The other women that are also with you include Marsha Warfield. Did you have any history with her?
Monique Marvez: Now I’m going to tell you a little something about Marsha. She’s going to get a kick when she reads this.
Marsha was second to last. I didn’t know the [stage] order until I arrived at my trailer. Carol came, and in one of those forehead-to-forehead girl moments, she said, “I’m counting on you. You’re batting cleanup.”
And I was like, what? You have an ’80s sitcom icon doing second to the last set. What? So Marsha was placed second to last, and she crushed it. It was a mic drop moment for her. And her set felt like the end of the show.
Here I was behind the curtain, going, “Oh yeah, great, this is delicious.” I knew there was no oxygen left in the room. So I said, I’m not going to do my opening as I had planned. So on the fly, I shuffled the material. I would do a fluffy 90 seconds until the room refills with oxygen. And then I’ll go into my set.
So that is exactly what I did, putting my hard open closer to the end. But that is 30 years of being in the business and being able to do that on the fly.
And the director was so clever that she told the audience after my set, everybody, stay where you are. We’re going to reshoot Monique’s intro because the energy was low.
Everybody was wiped out because Marsha cleaned the floor with them. It took about 90 seconds in, and I had the audience breathing and laughing. And that was the end of it. So then it was just rope-a-dope. But Marcia did not make it easy. She did not make it easy.
M&C: This has been a year for you. You recently lost your brother. How do you charge through and work after that shock and the grief?
Monique Marvez: Thank you. I did a show that night that I found out my brother died. Earlier, I was in a critical meeting, and I got a call from my aunt, who said, “It doesn’t look good. They haven’t been able to revive him.”
And then, 10 minutes later, she called and said, “Your brother passed.” And she didn’t say, “Your brother died.” She said he passed.
At some point, I’m going to do the scene in a script. I visualize in my head a pillow and a brick bouncing off a pillow. That’s what my brain did. [The news] literally bounced off my brain that my baby brother was gone.
So I said in the meeting, “my brother has just passed.” And they said, “Oh my God, do you want to end the meeting?”
I didn’t want to end it, saying to everyone in the meeting that my leaving would not bring him back. But I’m in shock. So let me finish saying what I had to say. I was with my manager, who wanted to call ahead and cancel my booked gig that a good friend of mine got for me in Beverly Hills that same night. She worked hard to get me that gig that I love and do once a month.
So I did the show, and I was starting to lose it towards the end. I had five minutes to stick the landing and make it to my car. The shock was wearing off, and I could feel it. In my head, over and over, I was thinking, just say good night, get in your car. And I did.
Then it was a terrible weekend. I recall I drank like a 7/11 sized cup of vodka. And I’m not a drinker, but I got home, and I poured myself a giant ginger ale, and the funny thing is that vodka had been in my fridge for three holidays, cilantro vodka.
By the way, it’s a disgusting combination. I was drinking it for medicinal purposes to fall asleep.
M&C: In comedy today, there are landmines everywhere. You can’t say much for fear of the left and the right. But I also feel like this huge void and hunger for brutal truth slingers of yore like Sam Kinison and Joan Rivers.
Monique Marvez: By the way, one of the lines that I get the hardest last every night is, I say, “Screw cancel culture and the electric bike it rode in on.” It gets the biggest hardest laugh every night.
M&C: Do you feel like you can get away with saying things that a Gen Z or Millenial female comic would be too timid even to go there?
Monique Marvez: Well, here’s what’s weird. I don’t ever think of myself as my age. And life is happening for you and not to you. All three of my specials were rereleased during COVID on Amazon Prime, so these kids that never saw or heard of me on Showtime all found me. I regularly get emails saying, “How come I’ve never heard of you? Or why aren’t you famous? Or you’re my idol.”
I’m not even kidding. Just now, I went to FedEx to drop off a photo for a fan, a young woman. I’m going to tell you right now, don’t think she’s a fan of men. She’s joined the Marines.
She loves me to pieces, sends me constant lovely messages, and asks for a picture. I’ve just been busy, but she said I’m leaving for basic training. So I went and overnighted her a picture and sent her a message saying it was on its way.
And here’s what I will tell you about this. Number one, I am catnip to the kids. I’m not even on TikTok. And somebody said, “Oh, you’re trending on TikTok.” I was like, “I’m not on TikTok.” They’re like, “yes, you are!” Seven hundred thousand views of hashtag Monique Marvez. People, and especially younger girls, are lip-syncing my comedy routines.
And so here’s why the kids liked me. I’m authentic. I’m comfortable in my skin, and I’m the world’s oldest, gen-Zer around. I’m connected to everything and attached to nothing.
I’ve always been a peculiar duck in that I’ve never owned a home, and I’ve never paid off a car. And I shop thrift stores. I was green before it was popular.
And I know that I am odd that way, and I always have been. I was just waiting for them. So I’m the patron Saint of Gen Z-ers. And I say that with the enormity of the responsibility of what that means, which is about authenticity.
Here’s where I’m going to drop a nugget on you. What is happening right now, and perhaps why I’m in the zeitgeist is because, for my whole life, men would say, “I’m crazy about you, but you’re not like a regular broad, you’re not like another chick, or you’re like one of the guys.” And it would always beg the question, “What does that mean? What kind of women are you hanging out with?”
My father was a very different kind of man. And he gave me excellent advice. He said, “You’re going to be broke one day, and one day you’re going to be broken-hearted, just make sure they are not the same day.” But he always taught me to be independent, almost to what most men consider a fault, if you will.
Interestingly enough, I figured it out, and I’m working on a new bit. It’s not polished. For years, Western Europeans, privileged people, the people personified on Downton Abbey, got to pick and choose from a menu of appropriation.
They got to decide if they liked jazz or ragtime or a certain kind of food or sub-continent. And what’s happening now is that people, myself, a woman, are saying, you don’t get to pick and choose.
When I was young, men would say,”I like curvy women, or I like brunettes, or I like brainy.” And I knew I was being objectified. “Oh, I love women. No, you love having sex with women. You really don’t love women at all. You’re a misogynist.”
And what the Gen Z years are saying is you don’t get to pick and choose the parts of me you want. So if you like hip-hop music, you need to figure out how to make peace with BLM.
And the punchline that I’m working towards is that if you like sushi, you have to learn to love the Mexican guy who’s making it for you. So I’m working on it still, and it takes time because what this is really about is the end of cultural appropriation.
The kids don’t care if you’re not politically correct. They care about intentions. I say un-PC things all the time, but it’s the power and the intentions of the words.
I had this weird friend, Teresa, and years ago, our standard greeting was, “How you doing, you lumpy. wh**e?” And one of us would say back, “Why you gotta say lumpy?” We would greet each other in public that way, just to horrify other people then. Words don’t mean anything. It is what’s behind the words. If somebody calls me a filthy sp*c with a smile on their face, and they’re my friend, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter!
And the kids know that. So what they are getting on is you can’t have it both ways. And they’re calling people out on that. I’m not here to talk about any of my brethren; I’m not. But I think just in general, if you look and see who’s getting ramrodded, it’s male comedians, more so than females.
And it’s because there’s a particular privilege that comes with being male. And at some point, when you’re famous enough and rich enough, you become colorless.
So if you look at who’s getting it in the face? Jerry Seinfeld saying, “I’m not playing colleges anymore.” Well, I don’t know that they’re going to miss him that much.
The kids are the coolest, I don’t have an issue with them, and they don’t have a problem with me. And I never worry about anything I say at any time because I’ll tell you what they’re all about—the sniff test. The kids pick you up and sniff you. And if you smell right, you are good as gold. And if you smell wrong, no word is going to fix it.
I’m not a divisive comic at all. I’m busier than ever. The fact is that I tell people I am patriotic, but not political. It’s not the same thing. When I’m on stage, it’s intimate.
God bless people like Sebastian Maniscalco. I love that guy. He’s hilarious, but I am not a Madison Square Garden comedian. I wouldn’t say I like when I’m on cruise ships or in a theater with 1700 people. So I don’t think I’m jinxing my career. I’ll just have to do more shows.
I liked the intimacy and immediacy of my art form. I like it close and tight. And when you’re in that setting, you’re not going to divide. If you’re on a giant stage, or you’re on a huge stage, or you’re on a podcast, it’s not the same. When you’re in a club looking at the first ten front rows with lights on, you’re feeling those people. So I’ve never been busier. I’m booked solid dates up the following summer.
M&C: What is grinding your gears and making you laugh? Cultural trends, things that you’d like to see, go away?
Monique Marvez: I’m all about whatever it takes to feel young and attractive. I’ll tell you the one thing that grinds my gears is that I am totally against the pornification of women.
This whole trend of having the huge lips, butt cheeks, and lash extensions put in. I sat next to a chick on an airplane with these big fake mink lashes sticking out of her hoodie. And every time she blinked, I swear, I felt a breeze.
The pornification and Barbie-fying of women are out of control. Like at what point do you say, how far afield have we drifted from remotely natural or easy or low maintenance beauty? It’s out of control.
Here’s what it is, do whatever you want to augment, amplify or shift to make you look beautiful. But number one, remember that beauty is a matter of being measured by millimeters, not inches, so if you’re measuring something in inches, too big!
Even More Funny Women of a Certain Age airs Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 10/9c on Showtime.