Now that he is a writer and producer on a network TV show — that would be Fox's Bordertown — LA satirist and cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz wants it known that he didn't just fall off the bus into a Hollywood gig. "Although I’ve worked in Hollywood for 20 years, I just haven’t succeeded," he writes at Pocho.com, his mostly-satire website. "I really began my Hollywood career...as a young, impossibly adorable writer on 24 episodes of a 30-episode run of the legendary Culture Clash sketch comedy show." And after slogging for all this time "like the Little Cholo That Could," and relentlessly pitching his comic strip La Cucaracha to be an animated show, Alcaraz offers some lessons learned about the entertainment industry.
TV is not diverse. Just kidding, I already knew that. There’s not going to be more Latino talent behind the camera and in key decision making positions until we start helping fellow Latinos into Hollywood. My fellow Bordertown writer and homie Gustavo Arellano (columnist of ¡Ask a Mexican!) actually did this, and got me hired on Bordertown. No Mexican crabs in a bucket pulling each other down here, more like a crab leg up!
Diversity can be fun! Bordertown has five Latino writers, and four are Mexican-American. It makes a difference. (And our only immigrant writer is Canadian Christian Lander, what’s that aboot?) My Cuban-American Bordertown co-worker Valentina Garza puts it like this: show creator Mark Hentemann wisely gathered an “ensemble writing staff.” A Chicano journalist, a cartoonist, a newbie writer, a stand up comic, a Cubana Simpsons writer and a crack staff of very experienced gringo TV writers walk into a bar….
We are not alone. It’s safe to say many TV writers admit to be self-doubting, insecure neurotics. The first day at Bordertown all 14 writers plus staff introduced ourselves, and I felt very intimidated. I was starting a TV gig with pros who had written for "Family Guy," "The Simpsons," "American Dad," "Mr. Show," "South Park," —YIKES!
I stood up and said, “Please forgive me if I seem awkward. It’s because I’ve worked alone in a room for 20 years. I’m a cartoonist.” I scored at least one laugh for the season.
And much more. "Bordertown" airs Sunday nights at 9: 30 p.m./8:30 Central on Fox.
Photo: That's Lalo with the microphone and Gustavo Arellano on the right.
* Correction: In my haste I called the show Borderland in one place. It's Bordertown. Bordertown!