Clovis comedian uses family as material

By Emilie Hornak: CNJ Correspondent

Life is kind of funny, especially when you start looking for the moments that really make you laugh. At least that’s how budding Clovis comedian Leticia Zarate sees it.
During the past few months, Zarate has taken a long, hard look at her life — at home, at work, among friends — and learned that those closest to her provide the best material.
“It’s amazing that when you start looking for funny things, they just start popping up. It’s weird,” she said.
A manager at Quest Employment Agency in Clovis, Zarate finds her co-workers and clients are great subjects for her acts.
“Where I work, at an employment agency, when we ask people to work, they always come up with an excuse,” she said, explaining one fella actually turned down a job because he needed to spend the day tanning.
But the laughs keep on rolling for the wife and mother of three when she gets home.
Recently, Zarate’s middle child, 14-year-old Sarah, provided her mom with a little chuckle after she broke up with her boyfriend of a couple of months, because the thrill just wasn’t there anymore.
“It was so funny when she said that, I’m for 14-year-olds who are only allowed to talk on the phone,” Zarate said, laughing.
Sarah’s teenage romance is now a staple of her mother’s routine.
“It’s kind of embarrassing,” Sarah said.
But still, the teen says she’s proud of her mother for pursuing her dream. “I think it looks fun, but it looks fun because none of them knows she’s my mom,” she said giggling.
Zarate makes sure she gets her family’s permission before inserting them into her routine.
Although the material is readily available, the jokes didn’t just start flowing for the aspiring comedian.
Her adventure in the realm of comedy started when she signed up for a comedy course at Clovis Community College in April.
Although the six-year member of Toastmasters International (a group of people dedicated to public speaking) has spent time speaking in front of large groups, getting up on stage was a new challenge for Zarate.
“I’ve always been scared of making people laugh, of saying jokes,” she said. “(Toastmasters) helped me get over my fear of public speaking. But the concept of making people laugh is entirely different. There’s a different kind of pressure.”
That pressure, she said, lies in the dead silence.
“You’re thinking they don’t think (your jokes) are funny,” Zarate said, with a laugh.
To prevent those instances of silence, she has come up with a plan.
“I just go out there and set up my audience. I say every third person is a designated laugher, and they crack up at that. And if you’re a friend, you have to laugh,” she said.
And once she gets rolling, Zarate said she’s pretty comfortable up there in front of all those people.
“Once I get on stage, there’s no problem. Something just takes over me,” she said.
But don’t expect to find her standing in the casting call for the Last Comic Standing.
“I do comedy because it’s fun. I already have a career, so my goal for comedy is to just enjoy it,” she said.
Sarah said she hopes to one day see her mother on Comedy Central, as long as her name isn’t mentioned.
“I don’t know that I would ever want to be on T.V. or anything like that. But if it comes, it comes. I’ll be ready,” Zarate said.
Comedy does, however, play a role in Zarate’s lifelong dream of becoming a motivational speaker.
For now, though, Zarate plans to get her fill of the amazing thrill and natural high she experiences while on stage.
Most recently, Zarate shared her routine at a regional meeting of the Toastmasters in Albuquerque. She said she plans to perform next for the Clovis/Curry County Chamber Ambassadors.
“Making people laugh and having the ability to make someone smile is really a neat feeling. I guess comedy was always my thing, I just didn’t know it,” Zarate said.