Fil-Am comedy magician to headline at Pechanga
By Joseph Pimentel
Published: September 4, 2013
A 29-YEAR-OLD Filipino American comedy magician will headline at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula on September 6 and 7.
A lifelong magician, Justin Rivera is a member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood and has performed his act all across the nation.
He is considered a rising star in the comedy circuit.
Rivera was named a judges’ favorite on NBC’s America’s Got Talent and has appeared on shows such as the Speed Channel and Comedy Central. He’s headlined in several comedy joints including Laughs Unlimited in Sacramento, Comedy Palace near San Diego, and Aces Comedy Club near Temecula.
Asian Journal caught up with the Southern California native before his performances at Pechanga.
Asian Journal (AJ): What does it mean for you to headline at Pechanga?
Justin Rivera (JR): It means to me that hard work does pay off. I started performing at Pechanga almost 3 and a half years ago as the host, opener, and middle act. I created enough buzz over the years with the crowds, staff, and management that they finally decided to give me my own weekend headlining their club. Every comedian strives to get that headline spot in a show, and I’m excited to get my turn.
AJ: What should the audience expect to see?
JR: They should expect to see a mixture of things. There’s a lot of comedy, improv, ad lib, and music combined with magic. I also use audience participation all the time. I like to play with the crowd and bring people on stage. A lot of my humor is visual and situational, which makes my show very universal. Magic is such a universal concept, which plays well to the diverse crowds that frequent Pechanga.
AJ: Why do you perform comedy-magic opposed to focusing on comedy or magic?
JR: I started performing magic at 6 years old but always felt that I was funny even as a kid. Even when I wasn’t trying to be funny, I would get laughs while performing magic. My sense of humor and funny personality would always come through during a performance. I realized then that I should incorporate that in every show. When I perform magic, I feel naked without getting laughs. I love performing both art forms so much that I can’t just do one or the other.
AJ: Who was your inspiration growing up?
JR: My inspirations are Lance Burton, David Copperfield and the Amazing Johnathan.
AJ: Ultimately, what are your career goals?
JR: I’m trying to perform on cruise ships and do more comedy clubs, college shows and corporate events. At the end of this year I’ll be headlining a corporate show at the Grove of Anaheim for Google. I’d also like to headline my own show on the Vegas strip. Hosting my own food/travel show would be nice too. I’m such a foodie and travel nut.
For tickets visit www.pechanga.com/tickets/online
Filipino Arts & Entertainment Examiner
May 6, 2011
In recent years, many talented Filipinos such as Charice, Bruno Mars and Manny Pacquiao are becoming more recognizable in their respective fields. It's no different in the field of stand-up comedy as proven by Jokoy, who has performed in the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and on his own special at Comedy Central and Rex Navarette, who is well known for his 'Maritess vs. Superfriends' sketch and one of the pioneers who paved the way for many of the Filipino American comedians today.
But other than Jokoy and Rex, there are other great Filipino comedians who are rapidly making a name for themselves, such as Joey Guila, Justin Rivera and Ron Josol.
Joey Guila, who once coined himself as the only straight Filipino hairdresser in Rodeo Drive when he worked at the famous Jose Eber Salon in Beverly Hills, is currently the host of Myx's 'That's My Jam.' He was also the first Asian and Filipino to tour with Latham Entertainment, the producer of 'The Original Kings Of Comedy.' He was selected since he won a 2003 regional ' Kings of Comedy' competition ran by Latham Entertainment. Now he is one of the most sought after Filipino-American comedians as proven by the fact that he has been able to perform in venues such as the MGM Grand and Universal Amphitheatre. You may have also seen him in Showtime in his appearance during the 'Pacific Rim Comedy' which appeared during New Years Eve in 2009.
Justin Rivera on the other hand is 'Mr. Jack of All Trades,' as he successfully combines both magic and comedy to form unique comedic routines that allow the audience to feel more involve and often keep them laughing throughout his performances. It should come as no surprise as he honed his skills at the world famous 'Magic Castle' in Hollywood, CA. He has also opened up for Jokoy, Rex Navarette and Russell Peters, who is arguably the most popular stand-up comedian right now. In addition, Justin has performed in Comedy Central's 'The Gong Show,' Speed Channel's 'Fast Track To Fame,' and 'The Homies Hip Hop Show.'
Ron Josol was the 2000 winner of Craven A's funniest homegrown comedian competition for the Just For Laughs Festival, an event held once a year in Montreal, Canada. Since then he has performed in numerous events around the world including the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Orange County Comedy Festival and Showtime Dubai. Moreover, he hosted his own show called 'Flip' in the Omni2 network and even produced, co-wrote and starred in a short film based on his true story entitled, 'Rolling Longaniza.' As a result of his immense talents, he is rapidly gaining the attention of people in the entertainment industry and in 2009 Hollywood producers took notice and gave him the opportunity to perform at the 'LOL Comedy Festival,' which was aired in Showtime.
Now Filipino fans will have a chances to see Joey, Justin and Ron perform in one night as they are scheduled to perform during the launching of the Sun And Stars Comedy Tour, which will be held on May 26th in Sacramento,CA at Laughs Unlimited. This is definitely a can't miss event as this is one of the rare times that people can see them perform in the same night. In addition, the show will be hosted by Jimmy Earll, a no holds barred comedian with the ability for making even the most obscure situations hilarious.
Must See Filipino Comedians and Comedy Tours!!!!!
Filipino Arts & Entertainment Examiner
June 10, 2010
Years ago, if asked about their favorite comedians, many Filipino Americans might have mentioned the names of Dave Chapelle, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, etc and for good reasons. They are certainly accomplished comedians who can fill out stadiums.
However, as with the other areas of the entertainment scene, Filipinos are now rapidly gaining a name for themselves in the stand up scene.
There's Jo Koy, who has already been featured in his own comedy special in Comedy Central and can be seen often in Chelsea Lately, Now, he's one of the more in demand comedians, whose shows are often sold out.
There's also Edwin San Juan, who has been seen in numerous specials such as 'The Payaso Comedy Slam', Slanted Comedy, and 'Comic without Borders' just to name a few. Not only that, he also notched 9 consecutive victories in the UPN show 'Talent Agency.'
Of course, we can't leave out Rex Navarette, who might not be as well known as the above mentioned comedians outside the Filipino community, but whose talent in being able to mix the Filipino culture in his comedic acts has endeared him to many Filipinos.
We also got Joey Guila, who won The Kings of Comedy tour in the bay area, which according to his website led him to perform at Pdiddy's Bad Boy of Comedy in New York. Since then he's also been a part of many comedy tours with the most recent one as being the 'Filipino Kings of Comedy.'
That's not all; he's also currently the host for the Myx's top ten countdown along with providing voice overs for the cartoon, 'The Nutshack'.
Then when I attended the most recent Slanted Comedy event in Brea courtesy of Mike 'Black' Ibarra, the promoter of the show, I got to see another Filipino comedian that instantly became one of my favorites.
His name is Justin Rivera, who had my friends and I laughing the whole night with his unique blend of magic and comedy act. The highlight of his performance was probably when he took someone from the audience to perform a magic trick as he stood behind him and assisted. It's hard to describe, but that's why you got to see it for yourself. It got me laughing so hard I couldn't take a bite out of my chicken wings for fear of choking.
So now, if you ask Filipino Americans their favorite comedians, they may still mention the most obvious names such as Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, but don't be surprise if the Filipino comedians mentioned above are now on the list. I certainly got Edwin San Juan, Joey Guila and Justin Rivera on my top five.
Check them out and make sure to see one of their shows whenever they are on the area and trust me you will have a great time!!! You don't have to be a Filipino either to enjoy their show since their comedic acts transcends all races.
Besides they are not only great comedians but are very approachable people who take their time to meet and mingle with their fans.
JUSTIN RIVERA: A MAGIC ACT
WHEN FilAm Justin Rivera performs on stage, it’s the crowd’s laughter and faces full of surprises that keep him going.
"It’s that feeling I love," says Rivera. "I love watching their faces and seeing them laugh or shocked at something I do. It reminds me of being a kid again, like seeing a magic trick that totally fools you for the first time."
People will have a chance to see this rising 25-year-old magician from Chino Hills when he opens the Comedy for a Cause event at the Glendale Civic Auditorium this Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 7pm. The charity event benefits a Filipino founded nonprofit organization called Angels of the Valley Hospice Foundation.
Fresh from his first national TV appearance on Comedy Central’s "The Gong Show with Dave Attell", Rivera is on his way up in the entertainment world. Besides performing on Comedy Central, he’s performed with comedians Jo Koy, Edwin San Juan, Ron Josol, Joey Guila and ABS-CBN’s Slanted Comedy show for MYX-TV.
But unlike Koy, San Juan and Guila, Rivera is a comedian with a twist. Rivera is a comedy magician.
"You don’t see a lot of us out there," he says. "Some people have said that my style of comedy is an ethnic version of the Amazing Jonathan but with less blood and better magic."
And he admits that it’s a fine line to keep the audience laughing and surprised during a performance.
Rivera learned how to do magic when he was six years old. He recalls that from a very young age, he was drawn to magicians Lance Burton and David Copperfield. Recognizing this, his parents, originally from Manila, bought him a magic starter kit from a toy store and the precocious six-year-old couldn’t stop tinkering with it.
"It was just the amazement," he says. "When I would watch them, their tricks would just totally fool me and I just had to know how to do it and how to perform it. It’s like a puzzle. You look at it and you want to solve it and do it yourself."
By the time he was seven years old, Rivera was already performing in front of his second grade elementary class. For Halloween, Rivera would dress up as his favorite magician wearing a top hat, cape and bow tie. At 12, Rivera was charging $75 an hour to perform his magic act at birthday shows and family parties.
But it was when he was 13 that took his magic act to a whole new different level.
Hanging out with a few friends at a magic shop, a person recognized Rivera’s act and advised him to join the Magic Castle’s Junior Program.
The Magic Castle Junior Society is an exclusive program for promising young magicians between the ages of 13 and 20.
Rivera says it’s one of the most difficult places to be admitted.
"Everyone in to magic knows about the Magic Castle. It’s the Mecca of magic," says Rivera. "It was pretty hard for a young kid to get into."
During his audition, Rivera remembers performing in front of a seasoned magician for five minutes. He did a magic act with doves.
"I made them appear out of coat, handkerchiefs and scarves," he recalls. "Now, that I think about it was pretty impressive for a 13-year-old. I was doing some Lance Burton stuff."
A month later, he received his admittance letter in to the prestigious Magic Castle.
"The junior program was great," he says. "They had workshops and the veteran magicians would guide and work with you with your act."
Fork in the Road
Throughout high school and college, Rivera continued his passions for magic. The money he earned from weekly magic gigs offset the cost of books and tuition.
His parents thought that magic was just a hobby. However, Rivera felt differently.
"There was a point in time when my parents were telling me that I had to get a job and a stable income, to save money," he says. "But I love magic. It was always at the back of my head."
During his last year at UC Riverside, Rivera performed at the Improv. It was his first stage comedy magic performance. He followed his parent’s advice and lined up a job as a pharmaceutical sales person after graduation. But he knew that he couldn’t pass up at a chance to perform on a big stage.
"I killed it," he says. "The audience loved me. I did really good."
He followed through working as a pharmaceutical rep for a couple of years after graduating with a business degree at UC Riverside but when his contract was up, he pulled a rabbit out of his hat and decided to pursue his magic career.
For the past few years, Rivera has continued to hone his comedy magic act.
He knows that magic is not what it used to be. The days of one-hour magic shows like Burton and Copperfield on a primetime network have been replaced by "mentalism and mind reading acts like David Blaine and Criss Angel."
Yet, people still love that feeling of surprise when they are fooled, he says.
"That’s my motivation," he says. "To keep that going, to keep the magic that I grew up with and keep it alive and perform it in front of all the masses."
( www.asianjournal.com )