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Laugh out loud again

SNL star Melissa Villaseñor brings her ‘California Girl’ tour to town

Melissa Villaseñor
Comedian and ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast member Melissa Villaseñor takes the stage at Punch Line Philly June 3-5. Image | Robyn Von Swank

Ready to laugh out loud again? While inside a comedy club watching a real, live comedian? If so, you won’t want to miss comedian, writer and SNL cast member Melissa Villaseñor when she brings her national “California Girl” standup tour to Punch Line Philly June 3-5.

Villaseñor is a stand-up comedian, actress and impressionist who broke barriers by becoming the first-ever Latina cast member of “Saturday Night Live.” She is an accomplished musician and artist, and her celebrity impressions and standup have made her a favorite of fans and critics alike.

Villaseñor has been a cast member on NBC’s iconic Saturday Night Live since 2016. Her spot-on impressions of celebrities, including Dolly Parton and Lady Gaga, have

amassed millions of views online. She hosted The 2021 Independent Spirit Awards, following in the footsteps of past hosts including Seth Rogen, John Mulaney and

Nick Kroll, and Sarah Silverman. This summer, she can also be heard in the voiceover roll of Sister Mary Margaret alongside John C. Reilly and Jason Mantzoukas, among others, in the new AMC stop-motion animated series “Ultra City Smiths.” The detective comedy series features stop-motion animation of baby dolls repurposed as a grown-up cast of characters.

In the world of animation, Villaseñor has also voiced characters for “Toy Story 4,” “Wreck It Ralph 2,” Cartoon Network’s “OK K.O.!” and Fox’s classic shows “American Dad” and “Family Guy.” She has appeared in person on Comedy Central’s “Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens,” HBO’s “Crashing” and “Barry,” and Freeform’s “Alone Together.” She appeared as herself in her own episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and also as cat owner Karen in Adam Sandler’s “Hubie Halloween.”

Villaseñor burst onto the scene with her standup and celebrity impressions as a

semi-finalist on “America’s Got Talent” and has continued to tour ever since, headlining

stand-up comedy clubs and theaters in the U.S. and internationally for the past 10 years. She has been named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” and Rolling Stone’s “50 Funniest People Right Now.”

Chronicle Books will be publishing her upcoming book, a creative self-help journal featuring original art.

For tickets and details about Villaseñor’s upcoming Philly shows, visit punchlinephilly.com.

PW recently caught up with Villaseñor to talk about the upcoming shows and her career.

Let’s go back to the beginning. I read that at age 12 you were already doing impressions. When did you realize that you wanted to make comedy a career?

This is true! I began with singing impressions of the pop queens like Britney, Christina, Mandy Moore, Shakira, Avril Lavigne. I realized I was going to be a comedian after I performed for my school talent show my sophomore year. I got such great laughs and immediately felt a flame-like sensation in my soul that clearly said, “this is what I’m supposed to do. This is my purpose. I am awake now.” 

You auditioned for SNL in 2009, but didn’t make it until 2016. What was it like, first, when you weren’t accepted and, second, when you learned that you would become a featured cast member?

When I wasn’t accepted, I was heartbroken and was searching around for something else to do with my life. I wasn’t even near ready because I didn’t even know who I was yet, and I wasn’t funny. Sure I had some good impressions, but that’s not enough. I am glad the universe gave me more time to grow personally, physically and as a comedian/performer. Doing a lot of stand-up on the road made me stronger and helped me find a voice and point of view. 

Who’s your favorite person to do an impression of? Who’s the toughest?

Steve Buscemi because he soothes me and makes me laugh. Also, Steve Buscemi is the toughest because I can’t do his voice well, but I can make his facial expressions and mannerisms well. 

You’ve been headlining clubs and theaters for more than a decade. How did the pandemic impact that schedule? How did you spend your time when pretty much everything was closed?

The pandemic pretty much cancelled the summer tour I had scheduled, as well as the goal to tape my first comedy special. So like all of us, I had to float a bit and keep the brain busy and healthy. I really did a lot of art and took naps with my dog. I think that was it. 

You’ve also done a lot of movie and TV work. Are you working on any new projects we should keep an eye out for?

Yes! My first book will be out next year with Chronicle Books. It’s all about being a good nut and loony in life and includes personal stories, drawings, and activities for the reader to join in on. And a new song this summer! 

What will people see when they head out to Punch Line in June for your shows? Political comedy? Storytelling about everyday life? We’re pretty sure impressions will be at least part of the show.

They will see jokes about my weirdo self, my Mexican family, impressions of people I know as well as some of my celeb impressions! I try to tie everything to being real to who I am, and silly, of course.  

What are the best ways for your fans to stay up-to-date with what you’re doing?

Follow me @melissavcomedy on Instagram and Twitter, of course, hehe. But also my newsletter: sign up at melissavillasenor.com. Thanks!

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