Comedian Al Madrigal is screwed – but he’s hoping that changes very soon.
The comedian, writer, actor, and producer, best known for his role as a news correspondent on The Daily Show during the Jon Stewart days, where he sports a scraggly mustache and oversized plastic frames. “I have been told that certain network presidents only like white guys without facial hair and no glasses,” Madrigal told Remezcla during a recent interview. “I’m like, ‘F—k, I’m f—ked on three counts!’”
Madrigal is only half-joking. While he’s recently signed a multi-year deal with CBS Studios to develop a new series, he’s faced a lot of adversity since making his debut on the 2008 sitcom Welcome to The Captain, which was canceled after only five episodes. Besides getting screen time on 66 episodes of The Daily Show, his longest-running gigs have been on the TV series Garry Unmarried, About a Boy, and I’m Dying Up Here, all of which were canceled after two seasons.
That’s why his new contract with CBS is such an important partnership for him. As a producer, writer, and actor, Madrigal can call more of the shots. He’s currently developing the comedy series Guerrillas about an oil company employee who gets kidnapped by a group of guerilla soldiers in South America and tries to earn back his freedom by working for them.
As positive as Madrigal is about his future, he doesn’t like to tread softly on the issues he has with Hollywood that is most important to him. This includes his feeling that while it might seem like studios are starting to care more about diversity and representation, Latine talent is in dire straits.
“Things are so bad in Hollywood for Latinos and Latinas and Latinx,” Madrigal said. “I really don’t see a change. I see a lot more lip service. I see at the Emmys where they’re trotting out a bunch of diverse presenters but look at who’s actually winning the awards.”
Madrigal said that it’s up to our communities to write their own compelling stories. He recently shared his thoughts with an audience during a panel discussion at the L’attitude conference titled Looking to the Past, Present, and Future of Latinx Storytelling. Compelling stories, however, will only get someone so far. Latine storytellers need allies and advocates in the industry that can greenlight projects.
“I’m imploring those in power not to just kick down the ladder, but to send down the elevator,” Madrigal said. “I want to make sure that we can bring in as many people into this [industry] as we possibly can. [Our] stories need to be told.”
Madrigal wants to be a mentor. He wants to help and inspire the talent in our communities to start writing those TV series or movies that have been lingering in the back of their head for years.
“We need our Ted Lasso,” he said. “Can Ted Lasso be an all-Latino cast? Absolutely, and it would be a fantastic show.”