Cristela Alonzo Talks About Her Comedy Special ‘Middle Classy’ & Wanting a Late Night Talk Show

Lead Photo: Cristela Alonzo Stand Up Special. Cristela Alonzo in Cristela Alonzo Stand Up Special. Cr. Beth Dubber/Netflix © 2022
Cristela Alonzo Stand Up Special. Cristela Alonzo in Cristela Alonzo Stand Up Special. Cr. Beth Dubber/Netflix © 2022
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Stand-up comedian, actress, writer, and producer Cristela Alonzo has a little more money in her pocket these days than she did when her first Netflix special, Lower Classy, debuted five years ago.

That’s what happens when your stock rises in the entertainment industry, and you end up doing things like playing an animated character in a Pixar movie (Cars 3); getting cast in a film directed by Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh (The Laundromat); landing a recurring role in an HBO fantasy series (His Dark Materials); hosting a true crime/history podcast (Chicano Squad); and releasing a memoir (Music to My Years: A Mixtape-Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up).

Now, Alonzo is celebrating her evolving economic status with the release of her second Netflix special, Middle Classy. During the special, Alonzo talks about growing up in an impoverished family in South Texas, and how her life has changed now that she is part of America’s middle class. The proof? She can afford health insurance, dental work, therapy sessions, and bottled water.

Lower Classy was about surviving, and Middle Classy is about how to take care of yourself,” Alonzo, 43, told Remezcla during a recent interview. “Surviving means just getting by. You hope things connect and carry you to the next month. Taking care of yourself means that you’re not [in survival mode] anymore, but you still don’t know what to do.”

While she’s been learning plenty of life skills recently, Alonzo pushes back a bit on the term “adulting.” Sure, she’s taking more responsibility for herself these days, but as a first-generation Mexican American, she doesn’t feel like the word describes what she is currently doing, especially since she’s felt like an adult all her life.

“I’ve been ‘adulting’ since I was four years old,” Alonzo said. “When I was in sixth grade, I would help take care of my sister’s kids. I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m a kid myself!’ I would get mad when they would play with my toys.”

Alonzo also covers topics in her new special like unintentional racism. She tells a story about going to eat at Olive Garden with her white college roommate and her roommate’s family at the start of her freshman year. During dinner, her roommate’s mother picked a pepperoncini – a type of chili pepper – out of the salad, offered it to Alonzo and said, “Ah-ha-ha, I know who wants this!” Alonzo had no idea what to say or how to react. Today, she said that scenario would play out differently.

“We all must break this cycle of being quiet and just letting it go,” Alonzo said. “You want people to know what they did was wrong, and sometimes you have to give people the benefit of the doubt when they don’t know that it’s wrong.”

So, now that Middle Classy will soon be out in the world, what is it going to take for Alonzo to get to the next level – “upper classy,” if you will?

“A late-night talk show would be great,” she said. “I wanted people to know that there is a brown woman interested. What I’m asking for is the chance. I’ve been the first Latina to do many things, and I know I’ve got a lot of other firsts to do.”

Cristela Alonzo’s Middle Classy debuts on Netflix on June 28.