“Do you know me?” the 26-year-old comedian asks his audience. “My name is Paul Rodriguez. But when I travel, people don’t know who the hell I am. That’s why I carry the Mexican Express card.” With that, he whips out a giant knife. “It’s recognized all over the world.” It’s this kind of razor-sharp ethnic humor that has made Rodriguez, the son of an illiterate migrant farm worker, one of L.A.’s hottest comics. Featured on the TV series Gloria and a regular performer at the Comedy Store, the famed Sunset Strip club, Rodriguez is being hailed as the Hispanic Richard Pryor. One of the few bilingual comics in America, he plays Spanish-speaking clubs as well. Paul hasn’t forgotten the tough East L.A. neighborhood where he grew up. “Comedy was my secret weapon,” he recalls. “It saved my life many times. I wasn’t the meanest dude in the barrio, but I was the funniest.” He got his start as a comedian in 1981 when, after a four-year Air Force stint, he entered Cal State-Long Beach. Paul’s classroom antics led his acting teacher to take him to the Comedy Store’s amateur night. A roaring success in his gang-style hairband and leather, Rodriguez dropped out of Cal State and began performing at colleges and strip joints. Soon, though, he was back onstage at the Comedy Store, and nor on amateur night.
Flicking back her long chestnut hair with a manicured nail, 14-year-old TV journalist Kimberly Maher coolly questions ABC anchorman Frank Reynolds about his career. He’s just one celebrity (others include boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and D.C. Mayor Marion Barry) who’s appeared on WNKS’ Washington News…Kidstyle. Kimberly’s 25-minute monthly cable news show, which the 5’5″ high school freshman from Gaithersburg, Md. anchors, films, writes, edits and produces, has been on the air since last January. Shown in Chicago and Detroit as well as D.C, the program opens with a drumroll, presents several news shorts, features an interview and includes “Nowadays,” a waggish look at modern problems, done by Kimberly’s brother, Jamey, 11. Off camera, Maher is chauffeured by her father, an Agriculture Department employee, and her mother, a consumer product tester. Kimberly got started in video while attending an elementary school equipped with a closed-circuit television station. Her junior high didn’t have a studio, so Kimberly hunted down a sponsor to lend her equipment and then made several test pilots. Today she is television’s youngest newscaster. As for the future. “I don’t have a five-or 10-year plan,” says Maher, but she intends to stay in television. Talk about a résume.