WEST PALM BEACH – When Florida’s Funniest Comedian contest announced its Miami first round competitors, one name made other comics take notice: Ricky Cruz.
Unlike most of the more than 200 overall contest applicants, Cruz has already built a name for himself in comedy.
In his nearly two-and-a-half decades performing, Cruz has appeared on Latino television comedy specials, including for HBO, won the 105.9 FM comedy contest at the SoBe Comedy Fest in 2012, featured six times at Comedy Central’s South Beach Comedy Festival and toured nationally with Ralphie May three times.
Even with all those credits, this is the first time Cruz entered the Florida’s Funniest Comedian contest. It’s not surprising that Cruz advanced from Miami to the east division semifinals, then to the Dec. 28 Florida’s Funniest finals at the Palm Beach Improv. But it almost didn’t happen.
Heavy traffic on the drive from Miami relegated Cruz to being one of the last comics to arrive at the semifinal show. He didn’t enter the building until the show had already started, but did have plenty of time to gather his thoughts before taking the stage.
Cruz will make the same long drive on Dec. 28 to deliver what he hopes will be six of the best comedy minutes of his life.
“It’s always worth the drive for comedy,” Cruz said.
APPLAUSE BREAK Q&A: Meet Ricky Cruz
APPLAUSE BREAK: Why did you start performing stand-up comedy?
Ricky Cruz: My mother unknowingly had a big influence on me starting stand-up. She was a big fan of Joan Rivers, David Brenner, and Dave Barry. I would watch their specials and read Dave’s articles with her . My sense of humor, of roasting, cracking jokes, and writing was shaped in those moments. So when I failed out of FSU I told her I was going to try stand-up and she said, go knock ‘em dead.
AB: Who is your favorite comic and why?
RC: There’s too many to pick one. Eddy Murphy’s “Raw” was a definite spark. Greg Giraldo, Bill Burr, Ricky Gervais, Ralphie May, Joey Diaz – guys like that who always go for the kill shot regardless of the situation. There’s so many more.
AB: What do you do when you’re not performing stand-up comedy? What is your job and hobby?
RC: When I’m not making the big bucks doing comedy I work as a PE coach at a high school in Miami.
AB: What’s your pre-show routine?
RC: What?! I can’t give away the secrets! Lol. There’s no real routine. Take 30 minutes to pick out a shirt, then end up picking the first ratty one I grabbed to begin with.
AB: What can people expect from your Florida’s Funniest finals set? How is it different from your normal headlining set?
RC: Like all my sets whatever is happening in my life at that given time. Probably something too personal.
AB: Where do you see your comedy in five years?
RC: Trying to be Florida’s Funniest 2027
AB: Where did you perform in the first round of Florida’s Funniest? What do you remember from that show?
RC: Miami. It was a good time. Nothing out of the ordinary.
AB: What would winning the Florida’s Funniest Comedian contest mean to you?
RC: Honestly, I hate contests because it’s impossible to judge anyone’s hour act from 7 minutes. But I’d love the added exposure. The clubs in South Florida have been very good to me, but I would hopefully get more run at the other clubs around the state.
Previous Florida’s Funniest Finalist Q&As
- Orlando area comic Joe Latham
- Jacksonville area comic Danny Johnson
- Jacksonville area comic Wes Johnson
- Miami area comic Ricky Cruz
- Kissimmee area comic Donald Evans
- Boynton Beach area comic Nadeem Awad
- Tampa area comic Jay Legend
- Miami area comic Luis Diaz
- Orlando area comic Dewayne Williams
- West Palm Beach area comic John Loveless
- Fort Myers area comic Nathan Wallace