SAN PEDRO, California - For 23 years, comedian Rex Navarette’s punch lines featured his Filipino roots.
The Oregon-based Pinoy grew up in a highly Filipino-populated area of South San Francisco in Northern California.
He graduated with a Degree in Film and Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, and a Masters in Public Health and Public Policy at the University of California Berkeley.
But his calling has always been comedy.
“I’ve always just grown up around friends and relatives that have a good sense of humor. But I didn’t know if this could ever become a real career. I have always just loved comedy ever since I was young,” he recalled.
Most of his jokes center around Filipino culture, inspired by his observations of friends, relatives, and the many Filipinos he’s been surrounded by throughout his life.
The Festival of Philippines Arts and Culture (FPAC) gets Navarette to perform every year.
Organizers believe his humor helps Fil-Ams return to their roots, and allow the rest of the world to get to know the Filipino culture.
“I once heard a great quote when I was in college, and that is, once you’re able to take yourself seriously, you have to be first able to laugh at yourself. Rex is that to a tee. If we’re ever going to take ourselves seriously as a people, we have to be able to laugh at everything,” explained FPAC Organizer and Hollywood publicist WInston Emano.
Navarette also generates laughs for serious causes, doing fundraising shows for various organizations including the Asian American Donor program as well independent arts programs. He also travels to a number of Filipino community events, where he has a chance to inspire up-and-coming comedians.
“There were very few of us in the beginning so it’s nice to do these festivals and see fellow Fil-Am comics, who kind of just started because they saw what I started doing a couple decades back,” he explained.
Throughout the years Navarette has also gotten animated, starring on the Myx Channel’s “Nutshack” and creating his own hit series “Maritess and the Superfriends”, an animated comic routine about an undocumented Filipino domestic worker employed by superheroes, which he will reprise later this year for its tenth anniversary.