During holiday weekends (like Thanksgiving), local clubs often look to local talent to fill the schedule. At Side Splitters, the headliner this weekend is Pedro Lima, a central Florida comedian with plenty of experience, a straight-talk stage persona and few material restrictions.
Creative Loafing talked to Lima about his nickname, what his children think about his comedy and whether he wants to become a world-famous performer.
CL: You use the "Rican Gorilla" moniker on social media (RicanGorilla.com, Twitter: @ricangorilla). How important is heritage and family to you, and how does that translate into your set?
Lima: The nickname wasn’t a heritage symbol. It was due to my ability to break microphones and other stage equipment. We try to keep the old typical family traditions alive, but I’m more interested in creating our own traditions. My family life is rather basic.
You talk a bit about family in your set. How old are your children, do they know what you do and have they ever seen your comedy? If so, what did they think?
My kids are now 11 and 9. The 11 year old has seen me and she loves it, which is rather weird cause I’m not the cleanest of comics and I talk about the misery she's brought to my love life. But she’s awesome. She loves stand-up comedy. I’ve taken her to a few shows and she's taken to heckling bad acts — I do not approve.
You're considered an elder statesman in the Orlando comedy community. Newer comedians look up to you. What's the local scene like there and in Tampa?
Man, you really know how to make me feel old as shit. The local scene in Orlando is great. They seem to be doing good things with the open mics and comedy festivals. Tampa is great, too. I really dig what Law Smith has put together with Cigar City Comedy, and I'm really honored that they’ve let me be part of some of their shows. Those guys are solid in my book.
The good news is you got the call to headline this coming weekend at Side Splitters. The bad news is it's a holiday weekend you could have spent with family. How do you balance your career with family life, and what kinds of sacrifices to you have to make?
It would be a different story if I was doing something out of state. I normally stay local for the big holidays, but my kids are older now and they have found their own busy life so it makes things easier for me to take gigs now. And honestly, Side Splitters has become sort of my home club and family, so its awesome that I get to spend time with them. They’ve always been good to me and given me some phenomenal opportunities to do stuff I never thought I would.
How long have you been doing comedy, and how has your material changed over the years?
I've been doing comedy 11 years. I really don’t know how to answer that cause I don’t notice it, but I guess new experiences get added in — like when my kid discovered porn on the Internet, or when I figured out the best way to escalate an argument is to raise the car [radio] volume a half-second before your wife is going to counter your point.
You're well-regarded locally, and considered a top act in Central Florida. But you're not a national name yet. How does a local headliner take that next step into a bigger spotlight? What do you have to do to get there, and is that still a goal of yours?
To me it's being the right person at the right time when that window of opportunity cracks open. I’ve known a lot of guys who chase it. I love comedy and I’m happy doing it, but I don’t have the pressure to make myself a national name and I don’t think that's in my bloodstream.
I'd rather be a great dad than a name some stranger will enjoy, and later forget.
How would you describe your comedy and what can people expect from your show?
Observational humor from a wanna-be, miserable, happy-go-lucky father who has an awesome, brutally-honest wife who keeps him from jumping off a ledge. This might make a good promo.
(Note: Admission is free at the Friday late show, Saturday early show and Sunday show if you bring a new, unwrapped toy). Showtimes are Friday at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. $10-$16.50. 12938 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.