Enter the room, and there he is. A life force that can only be described in one word. Inspiring. That is Roman Suarez. Exceptional family man, father to one, son to some, a friend to many fortunate enough to know him, Roman’s positive energy is nothing short of infectious, which speaks to his trade. He is one of the hottest up and coming comedians in the Latin culture, making a mark and leaving a legacy of acceptance, tolerance and love in his wake. . .
I had the chance to sit down and talk to Roman one on one, and when I was finished, all I could feel was warm and fuzzy all over. There is something unique and undeniably special about this entertainer. He well grounded, deeply steeped in a place of humility and integrity that is not often found in someone in his line of work.
While to look at this devilishly handsome, charismatic, if not charming man, you might think he is the quintessential Bronx Puerto Rican, but the truth is, his ethnicity is in fact, Ecuadoran and Columbian.
Starting his comedic career later than most, his past life a reflection of the success of others in entertainment, Roman has been on the comedy scene for five years now. He says his previous life, while rewarding, wasn’t necessarily an authentic reflection of who he is and what he really wanted to leave in the world. So at thirty something, he changed his course, and his life forever, took a microphone in hand, the rest is 17 minutes of history!
Jessica: Roman, give me your “Aha” moment…..
Roman: That’s easy! I was doing laundry. I was down to my last $30.00 in the bank, an eviction notice on the door, my girlfriend just took off, and it was me and the dog. There I sat, waiting for the clothes to dry, and I decided it was time to get on the stage.
I remember standing there, on the edge of tears, feeling shame. For the first time in my adult life, I couldn’t pay the bills, and had never been prepared for a life alone. Until this moment, my relationship with my girlfriend had everything fifty-fifty, and I knew she would have my back. This changed in a New York minute. Then I dug in deep. I thought my Mom is sick, my Dad’s health is failing and it’s up to me. So I did it. I got up, took the microphone in hand, and went for it.
Jessica: Tell me about your first performance?
Roman: About a year before that moment, I went to a well-known open mic club here in New York, called Nuyorican. I was there to see a comedic line up. It was there that I struck up a conversation (after summoning some courage) with one of the A-list comedians performing that night. You may know his name, Mike Robles? Anyway, I bought him a drink, explained I am a writer, and asked him for his advice getting into the comedy scene. In the end the message was simple. “Keep doing what you want to do, if it makes sense, we will find a way to work together….”. A year later, after working the relationship with him, he contacted me and asked me to put something together to open for him. Out of nowhere he asks “you will get five minutes, and if I hate it in two you are off the stage, are you ready?” Of course I lied and told him I was 100% ready.
So there I was, Wednesday through Saturday, writing material like a mad man. Editing, correcting, writing, editing some more. Then the moment arrives. There I am on the stage, mic in hand and the world went blank. My throat went dry, my toes went numb, I forgot it all…….
Everything I had written, everything I had set up, gone. So I start talking. And I keep talking. Somewhere between 5 and 17.5 minutes later, Mike was madly signaling with his flashlight, making big “X” which meant my time was up, and I never lost a beat. I just kept going, and seventeen and a half minutes later, I finally stepped back off the stage. Those seventeen minutes changed my life.
Mike later stopped me and said, “You’re a natural, keep writing”.
That was five years ago. I have not looked back since.
Jessica: Okay Roman, so that leads to the question, “What did you do before becoming a funny man?”
Roman: I was a record executive for 15 years. I started as a DJ. I was 15 and playing the hottest clubs in New York. I was cutting edge and produced great sounds people liked. Promoters started noticing me, calling me “vibrant” and “outspoken”. I was the youngest V.P in the industry, working for EMI, and since then I have worked with just about every major recording label. I was instrumental in the emergence of the Reggaeton music scene (Reggaeton is a music genre which has its roots in Latin and Caribbean music. Its sound derived from the Reggae en Español from Panama. In Puerto Rico, this Spanish Reggae took on different lyrics and instrumentation and came to be known as Reggaeton. After its mainstream exposure in 2004, it spread to North American, European, Asian and African audiences) into mainstream music audience share. Until then Latino Music artists were really just names, no labels, no copyright, just beats with lyrics. Alongside a team of about 12, we organized the genre and brought this underground music to market.
Jessica: So based on this, tell me, if you stepped off the curb tomorrow and a bus took you out, what legacy do you want to leave, when all is said and done?
Roman: I stepped into comedy to prove to my son that if you put your heart and soul, and all your effort into your mission there is no way possible that you cannot achieve your dreams. You have to put it all in to make it happen.
I get on stage to share my messages. Sincerity, emotions, organic authenticity is what I bring to the stage. In my 38 years, to my son, I have, by example, shown him anything is possible if you work hard enough and believe.
Jessica: Roman if you could change one thing about yourself, what would that be?
Roman: I would be more accepting of my mistakes, and recognize that I trust too easily and vest too deeply too early on in any relationship. Women, professional…I need to learn to be more patient, spend more time before I throw it all in and trust. I am a hopeless romantic, and I am the kind of guy that thinks that if a girl walks into the room wearing the coordinating outfit it’s meant to be! My spirit, sign, and personality lend to romance and the beauty of it all and I get hurt.
Jessica: So does this mean you have a lot of groupies?
Roman: Ha! Hmmmm, yes and no. My admirers come from elsewhere mostly, and this just means I have people elsewhere that think I am great! It means my comedy resonated, my message stuck and I had an impact. Made an impression. Groupies? Not really….I have people who appreciate my work, my words, and me. I also feel that each person is valuable and worth the conversation. No matter who they are. And I carry that along with me. Every Laugh Matters. Hashtag that one! I am using it, now that I think of it……#everylaughmatters”.
Jessica: Tell me about your writing and inspiration?
Roman: I write love poems….. (Authors Note: Ladies there I was looking into this darling’s eyes and listening to him tell me he writes love poems, and I did actually swoon……) and sonnets on life. I love Edgar Allen Poe. You cannot just simply read Poe. You have to become him. Let his voice come through his words, and celebrate his words.
When I was a kid my mom would come home with these house collectables with quotes. Though I wasn’t allowed to touch them I did sit in front of them and write the words over and over again. There I was standing in front of them, notepad and pen in hand, writing the words again and again, until over time I learned to write my own words and expand on these quotes and ideas. I loved the creative release and the healing that came from writing. I think it was more therapy for myself, and healing more than anything else at first.
Then I read “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Yes ladies, he is THAT guy!!) I learned through the book that you’re a flash in the pan, eventually you will be remembered for being forgotten, which is exactly the premise of the book. This book had such a huge impact on me, there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t reference the book and the harsh reality of the rags-to-riches-and-then-forgotten message I got out of it.
Jessica: What inspired you, Roman?
Roman: My son. I am a part time single father and my son is eleven. I want my son to achieve the college dreams, not just desire something but drive to achieve the goal. Right now he is all about creating these short films with his Legos. He seems to want to be a film maker. I tell my son, he can be anything he wants in life, but he has to work now for what he wants later. Drive the course to achieve the dreams. His ambition at his young age inspires me. Additionally I think it is laughter. The laughter of those who love me, and support me, my son, my mother, my aunts, when they laugh I feel full.
Jessica: So when did you know you were funny and entertaining?
Roman: My mother was a hair stylist. Beauty salons…. My dad was a taxi cab driver and mechanic. I had two choices as a kid, as to which parent I would spend my time when not in school. Dad’s shop was dirty, greasy and gritty and Mom’s beauty salon was full of ….women. I learned early on, the art of communication and talking it up with the ladies. I was a charmer and it didn’t take long to understand that to make a woman laugh was a gift.
Jessica: Roman, what message do you want to impart to the readers of Mr. Latino Magazine?
Roman: I have never understood the separatist idea. I think we need to bask in our diversity. We need to be accepting of our differences. We as “Hispanics” have arrived at a point in time when we address issues as a whole when we should be creating opportunity to embrace diversity. Welcome with open arms other cultures.
We have left it up to Media to define and pigeon hole the Latinos of this country as farmers with broken accents. We, as a community need to stop being our own used car salesman and find new ways to deal with the issue and bring the truth to the world about our real societal contributions. Kids coming up behind our generation need to embrace what being “Latino” really means. We are not border jumping, leeching immigrants as the Trumps of the world like you to think. We are not all Mexican. They make up a large percentage of Hispanics in this country but we come from countries like Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, Brazil, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico…..Guys like John Leguizamo are teaching the mainstream general audience that we are not all created in the same country, but it’s one voice at a time. The more we educate people the more we overcome the stereo types.
Jessica: And finally Roman, what is your favorite swear word?
Roman: The F-Bomb! My son’s mother had him at the beach this summer. He came home peeling and raw from sun exposure and not enough sunscreen. I of course, wasn’t happy. I said, “Well, we better get something for it”. My son holds out his tube of Noxema, provided by mom for the sunburn care. All I could say was “What the F&%$ is Noxema gonna do for you?!”
My son astonished, shocked and amazed, burst into laughter…..that’s what I do it all for. The laughter.
Roman is a gentleman, a comedic force to be reckoned with and very spiritual man. He finds his Zen and healing though his comedy and he delivers his messages with the elegance and taste of a talented, natural entertainer who invokes thought, provokes the questions, and changes perceptions one laugh at a time, because to Roman, #EVERYLAUGHMATTERS.
It was my honor to spend some time with this amazing, grounded and very real man. There was no entertainer ego, no pomp and circumstance and no entourage. It was the real man. The real deal and the opportunity of a lifetime.