Gastor Almonte has been doing stand up for over five years and he just released his debut comedy album Immigrant Made. Considering comedy is an extremely tough business, lasting five years and releasing an album means that Almonte is good. He's already appeared on a few shows and has performed at The New York Comedy Festival and Cinderblock Comedy Festival. So, he's good.
Almonte's a native New Yorker raised by immigrant parents which all shaped him into the man he is today. He's proud of his background and loved growing up in East NewYork. He decided to record his debut in his hometown to tell a story of his life and upbringing. The end result is a laugh-filled history lesson on his life. Perfect for those who like self-deprecating vulnerability, and learning about others.
We had the chance to interview Almonte and asked him about his background, new album and what's next for him. Keep reading to learn about his comedic style. Immigrant Made is now available through 800 Pound Gorilla Records.
TheThings (TH): How would you describe your sense of humor and comedy style?
Gastor Almonte (GA): I’m your cool uncle that tells fun stories about me and your parents when we were kids, but I’m still young enough to hang out at a bar.
TH: How did you get into stand up and how long have you been doing it for?
GA: My first set ever was 7 years ago. I had just gotten promoted at my sales job and I’d recently read an article about some CEOs who’d taken a stand-up class to get better at making presentations. Seemed like fun, so I did the same. I did really well at the class show but I still had to go back to work, and I did for over a year.
I slowly got depressed with my work/life balance, as I was doing roughly 65 hours per week. Finally, I shared this with my wife, who is incredibly supportive, and she asked me “When was the last time I was happy?” I said at the class show a year ago. She said, “Then you should do that.” So I quit my job, and I dove headfirst in.
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TH: Where do you get most of your material?
GA: Most of what I talk about is based around my actual life. I truly value being vulnerable on stage, and I can’t think of a better way to do that, then opening the curtain on your life.
TH: Do you have any advice for aspiring comics?
GA: Figure out your own needs based on your own goals. Early on, it's easy to get caught up in what you're supposed to do: “You need to do 60 sets per month.” “You should be writing 8 hours per day.” etc. The truth is, that those methods work because the comic that needed those did them.
If your goal is to be an NYC stand-up and get a late night set, you should have a super polished tight 5 and tight 20, so the 60 sets thing might work best. But what if your goal is to write for a sitcom? What if you want to work on SNL? I think too many comics don’t realize that the exact things they need to do is to be tailored more to their own goals.
TH: Immigrant Made is your debut album. Do you consider this one of your best shows to date?
GA: Most definitely. I'm truly proud of the hour I pulled off. I think it strikes a balance of being funny and informative that I was going for. I think there was a different value in experiencing it live, as an album and again as a video special, which was a major goal of mine. Finally, it's personal. I know people change, but I think its a super accurate time stamp of where I am now as a person and as a comic.
TH: Tell us a bit about Immigrant Made. Why did you do an album now?
GA: Immigrant Made is the story of my family in phases; a story of me before, a story of me now, a story of the family patriarch, and a story of my parents and their decision to come here.
I think most American families have beautiful stories of their journey here that slowly get lost in time. I wanted to document it while my family was still here, get there approval in how I did it, and share it to inspire others. Ideally, it will show people that we’re more alike than they realize.
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My debut special - Immigrant Made - is out now! It’s streaming on Amazon, free to watch with a prime membership. Just wanted to thank everyone involved. The director Peter Anthony Red who put in ridiculous hours into making this work and look amazing. You’re the man. (You’re a creative genius! Can’t wait for them to see round two!) Super producer Ricky Rubio, who literally solved any and every issue that had to do with this that kept me from focusing on being funny. (We are gonna make history homie! 23 Cans!) The awesome team at 800 Pound Gorilla and Anthony Leo, who took care of the audio. Kevin, Addy and the awesome team at AMA design for making the set feel like home. The incredible film crew, Niko, David and Juan, I owe y’all. Chad Griffith, who took a concept drawing that Peter Anthony Red did on a paper-bag and turned it into my cover. All the comics that showed love. All the rooms that let me prep more than normal (y’all are thanked in credits!) and to the ENY for providing the stories. Immigrant Made is here, and it’s yours. Enjoy
TH: What other comics do you admire?
GA: Roy Wood Jr. I think is quietly building a catalog that will have him go down as one the greats. Dave Chappelle always balances being witty with stories that truly change the people in the room in a way that I aspire to do.
In terms of people I see on the come up as well, Petey DeAbreu, Janelle James, Sam Jay, Rojo Perez, Calise Hawkins, and Saurin Choksi. Those are all people that legit make me want to rewrite my sets when I see them.
TH: What's next for you after Immigrant Made?
GA: I have a few projects in mind. I have two different youtube/web series that I’m working on that should be launched by fall. I’ve also gotten pretty far along with the plans for my next album, which I’m hoping to make as a thank you/love letter of sorts to the women in my life.
TH: What would be the ultimate comedy venue/show you would want to perform at?
GA: I’d love to headline an album recording at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. I absolutely love how the renovation came out, and any chance I can do something in my stomping grounds, it means more.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Gastor!