Melissa Rocha is a Bushwick based veteran comedian and producer behind a new show called, “Latina Nite.”
I have had the pleasure of knowing Melissa for 2 years. We met at a Brooklyn storytelling art gallery show in the summer of 2016 and each performed unprepared stories about an important event in our lives.
She told a moving story about leaving an ex-boyfriend making an emotional experience full of humor and laughs making the audience cry with her. I went up after her telling a story about my Abuelita walking in on my re-enacting the boat sinking scene from Titanic when I was 6, I cried too. After the show we introduced ourselves and the rest is history.
Over the past 2 years I have admired her work ethic and dedication to producing well curated and thoughtful shows. She always engages the audience with personal anecdotes about her family, dating life and observations from her everyday life. One of my favorite sets she has ever done was at a show I produced where she wore a baby doll dress and between jokes reminded the audience she was a sexy baby.
This month she is producing a new show called, “Latina Nite” at the Brick in East Williamsburg on November 24th. I sat down with Melissa (because I love her) to talk about her upcoming venture and learn a little more about why she does the things she!
BB: So, why do you produce?
MR: I am the producer because I genuinely love comedy. I love meeting new comics, seeing people I’ve seen over the years– grow and (hopefully) become successful (whatever that means to them.) And sometimes, as a producer– I am completely selfish- booking comics I find hilarious– that maybe I haven’t met yet and giving them stage time on whatever my weird show is at that time. I love producing shows! I’m not good at much, but man, I know how to throw a party!
BB: So tell me about your creative background.
MR: I’ve been a comic for about 4 years, I have a performance art background– so maybe that’s why I don’t mind silence so much. But also, c’mon i have to admit— I’ve spent a lot of years partying. In my experience, part of being a standup is hanging out & im pretty good at that. However, I forget how flirty it comes off when I tell someone I’ve never met that “they’re funny”— unsolicited. Ha! I also did improv.
BB: Why is it important to highlight Latinx voices?
MR: I’m highlighting my voice and taste, really. I was fortunate enough to produce an all Latina “Latina Nite” last year, but there are so many great comics of various backgrounds— I wouldn’t want to limit myself. A few years ago, I produced an all female stand-up show— it was successful in that aspect, but now I’ve learned about queer & non-binary people— I’m not afraid to admit that I see how that limitation was misguided. I’m proud to be Latina and it’s more about sharing that. I have made it my weird goal to make my non-comic friend’s fans of my comic friends!!
BB: What is your booking process?
MR: Recently, with Latina Nite– I’ve made myself “the latina” so I can book anyone I want. I am a curious and trusting booker. I trust what my peers say if they like someone- if I haven’t seen them. I just like to see what happens— performance art again. That being said- there are people that I’ll never book again. It’s like we’re in a “monogamous, take the recycling out, we’re going to my parents house for X-mas” relationship: I won’t screw you over, if you don’t screw me over. Ultimately, there’s not enough stage time to keep seeing all the comics I adore. I love being surrounded by these stars!
BB: What are you trying to say when producing these kind of show?
MR: It’s a silly sign I saw everywhere from growing up in Texas— at nearly every bar/pool hall, there would be a “Latino Nite” and I wanted to share that as a childhood memory concept for a show. And there’s so much shit about how bad comedy is— and i want to create a positive experience. I’m not trying.
BB: Why this venue?
MR: I’ve had the fortune to throw this party in Bushwick at my buddy Donavon’s— him and his wife Stina have a great rooftop. They’re not comics and just ask me to do this— it’s a free venue, we charge and pay the comics. One time it rained and the audience stayed the whole time!! I live in Bushwick, it’s a neighborhood hang— and there’s nothing better than that. The next one is at an “official” venue: The Brick in East Williamsburg. I had the opportunity to try a new space— also, Don’s spot is outside— so maybe, we’ll love ourselves a little and throw the sow inside!
Melissa is a rising star and you should go see “Latina Nite” on November 24th at 10pm. Tickets can be found here! Featuring: Lizzie Martinez, Rufat Agayev, Veroniza Garza, Truen Kirke, Zilla Vondas, Rachel Lang and host Melissa Rocha! Melissa will also be bringing her famous homemade treats aka tamales and yummy empanadas!
Cover photo courtesy of Becca Beberaggi