Ricky Velez is what you would call an authentic New Yorker. His onstage persona is very much a product of his upbringing in Queens, including a sense of pride that can only come from having toughed it out in one of the "less desirable parts" of the city. Because of this, one might expect Velez to come across as a more street-hardened comedian, with jokes that are cutting and filled with the aggression that so many native New Yorkers seem to pride themselves on. In fact, despite a kind of street-wise savvy, Velez is more of a laid-back goofball than a tough hood rat.
Velez's jokes have often referenced his struggles with anxiety, which is then a perfect segue into his even more frequent references to drug use and the misadventures that follow. In fact, in what has been described as “stoner humor,” Velez allows his audience to feel connected to his life and experiences with a sense of personal camaraderie that is warmly gratifying. It's easy to feel that you know Ricky Velez, giving him a rough-edged, heart of gold appeal. This was perfectly illustrated in the middle of a recent set at NYC's Comedy Cellar, when a drunken heckler was escorted out of the venue after interrupting every comedian who took the stage. Though happy to have the annoyance removed, Velez went on to admonish the audience for applauding, seeming to almost feel bad for the girl and commenting that “we've all been there.”
This genuine persona is refreshing, in that Velez is able to touch upon darker subjects without bringing the mood down. His energy on stage is relaxed, almost static as he leans on the mic stand and recounts his troubles and experiences to the crowd. He's no stranger to the stage or screen, which adds to the overall sense of ease. You feel that you are in capable, while also funny, hands. While Ricky Velez has established himself on Comedy Central's The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and appearances on Master of None, he can best be appreciated during his weekly stand up performances at The Stand and the Comedy Cellar. His work might just help you get through your own struggle with the hassles of the daily grind, or at least help you find the humor in it.