Locals have gotten to know Cleto Rodriguez III on the News 4 San Antonio segment “Where’s Cleto,” but he now has a worldwide audience after his comedy special aired Monday on Amazon Prime.
The San Antonio native’s special, “Devil, Get the heck outta here,” pokes fun at what daily life is like for him and many others, such as working out when you’re a little chubby.
“When I got the news, I felt like Ritchie Valens when he got his first song,” Rodriguez said about hearing his show was picked up by the streaming service. “I am just so excited, I am tearing up just talking about it. I had always prayed to go nationwide, and God had a plan for me to go worldwide.”
The special was filmed about three years ago when Rodriguez did standup in front of 400 people at a local church. Since then, he and his business partner had been pitching the special to all the major streaming services. For Rodriguez, getting his foot in the door meant he had to compete with major players in the comedy world, like Gabriel Iglesias, for a spot.
Rodriguez credits divine intervention for landing with Amazon Prime. Quarantine measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic created a lack of new content for steaming services and the opportunity became available, Rodriguez said.
“I think it’s because it is something really positive and we all really need that right now,” he said. “There is a lot of hate, and we need to bring some fun stuff back.”
Rodriguez’s comedic journey began in the 1990s, when he drove all over Texas to participate in open mic nights, honing his comedy.
It wasn’t always easy. Rodriguez remembers performing in front of only six out-of-towners at one of his first shows and bombing “because none of them knew what a Mexican wedding was.”
He also started out as a “filthy comedian,” meaning pretty much all jokes and any kind of language was fair game, but after marrying wife in 2001 and taking a break, he realized he had a better audience with clean comedy.
“I became a student of comedy again, and I remember I got good advice from a mentor who said you can get people to laugh by being relatable,” Rodriguez said.
Since then, he has become a local TV celebrity and is known for appearing in such shows as “Latino Laugh Festival, ¡Que Locos!” and the short-lived, Eva Longoria-produced sitcom “The Cleto Show.” He can be seen weekend mornings on News 4 San Antonio’s “Where’s Cleto” segment, and his shows are also available on iTunes and Pandora.
But nothing beats the feeling he’s had since Monday, Rodriguez said.
“I keep thinking of every open mic, every gig for free, every one-nighter, every heckler, and it is just overwhelming,” the comedian said.
And the comic isn’t stopping there. He now has his own spot, the Cleto Rodriguez Comedy /Live Events Stage, at Las Chiladas Mexican Restaurant on the North Side, where he is planning to film his next special.
Taylor Pettaway is a breaking news and general assignment reporter for MySA.com | email@example.com | @TaylorPettaway