Laughter is the Best Medicine

Empowerment Comedy with Ernie G.

Good, good. Are you all ready to laugh? Yes. We’re not in class anymore. You can– we’re going to be
loud when you’re laughing. You’ll be engaged. We got my boy Ernie
G. in the building. Let’s give it up
for Ernie G. He’s– [APPLAUSE] So Ernie G, he’s our
guest entertainer. He’s one of the top Latino
comedians in the country. He has been seen by
millions on TV shows, such as Comedy Central’s Make
Me Laugh, BET’s Comic View, and is one of the original stars
of the hit show, Que Locos, hosted by that one
and only George Lopez. You all know George Lopez? Yeah. Yeah. So he’s a graduate of
Loyola Marymount University with his degree in psychology
and a minor in Chicano studies. Ernie was honored with the first
ever Mario Moreno “Cantinflas” Award for his work in
the Latino community. He was the keynote speaker
at UCLA’s 32nd annual Raza graduation and spreads the
message of transformation through laughter as the
empowerment committee for the Hispanic
Scholarship Fund. And today, we are
all lucky to have him here at Highline College
to inspire us and keep us going with our goals today. So without further ado,
I’d like to introduce my boy, my good friend. Give it up one more time,
Highline welcome for Ernie G.! All right, what’s
up, Highline College? How you guys doing? You guys good? Yes. Yeah. Yeah, you excited to be here? Yeah. All right, cool. Give it up for Joe, man,
Joe releasing his inner DJ. Joe, like academic advisor, is
like, you guys ready to party? Like, what’s up, dawg? He used to be– you could
tell he used to be a DJ. All right, cool. So my name is Ernie
G. I’m a Latino comedian from Los Angeles. I’m on a bunch of TV
shows nobody watches. I’m so famous I have to
tell you how famous I am. I was on a show a few years ago. What’s up, buddy? How you doing, man? I love you. Look at that smile,
brother, so beautiful. I was on a show a few years ago. Clap if you think you remember,
or maybe your parents used to watch, a Latino comedy
show called Que Locos. Does anybody remember
Que Locos out there? All right, two Latinos. I see you. Two Latinos have cable. All right, cool, awesome– because you know Latinos
don’t like paying for cable. One dude in the
neighborhood gets cable and then the whole neighborhood
taps into that one box right there, right? And then we have the
audacity to complain when our cable goes out, huh? Hey, my cable went out. You owe me $50, dawg. You owe me $50. Que Locos was this
English language comedy show that came out on
Spanish Language Television. So you’d be watching what
you think is Comedy Central and then they’d
cut to commercial, and it’d be all,
[SPEAKING SPANISH]. And you’re like, what the heck? It was hosted by the number one
Latino comedian in the country. Where are my George Lopez fans? Got some George Lopez
fans out there, yeah? All right, cool. I always like saying
thank you to George for opening doors for us. I started my career
with Gabriel Iglesias. You guys know Fluffy? I’m not fat, I’m fluffy. You guys know Fluffy? So me, George, Gabriel,
we were all on that show called Que Locos. We traveled the country,
performing in places all over the country. But now I do something called
empowerment comedy, which is comedy with an
inspirational message. And we’re going to get
into that in a moment, but I just want to acknowledge
really quick that you’re going to hear me say
the word “Latino” pretty often in the next hour or so. You’re going to hear me say
the word “Hispanic” pretty often because I’m Latino
or Hispanic, depending on what flavor of
the month we’re talking about here, right? But when you hear
the word “Latino” and you hear the word
“Hispanic” over and over again and you don’t happen to
be Latino or Hispanic, there’s like this kind
of underlying assumption that maybe I’m not
really speaking to you. I want you to know, if
you can hear my voice, I’m speaking to each and
every one of you, OK. Just like you don’t got to be
black to love Dave Chappelle, right? You don’t have to
be black to love you some Kevin Hart, all
right, all right, all right. Right? You don’t have to be Korean
to love Margaret Cho, right? You don’t have to
be Latino to love Ernie G. You need two things
to love you some Ernie G. A, you got to love to laugh. If you love to
laugh, you’re going to love you some Ernie G. And B,
you got to want to be inspired. So if you love to laugh and
you want to be inspired, can I hear you make some noise? Is that everyone? That should be everyone, right? That should be everyone. I love being Latino. I’m proud to be Latino. But people always ask me,
what’s the G for, Ernie G.? Is it Garcia? Gutierrez? Gonzalez? My full name is Ernesto
Tomas Gritzewsky. Messed you up with
that one, huh? I thought you were
Latino, stoop. I’m a Mexican, American,
Puerto Rican, Russian, and French Catholic Jew. Wow. I am this country, gosh darn it. My mom’s from Mexico,
born and raised in el DF. She’s [SPEAKING SPANISH]. If you don’t know
that means, too bad. No, I just mean she’s Mexican
through and through, all the way down to her pistol
holders [SPEAKING SPANISH]. My dad’s Puerto Rican,
so I’m mostly Mexirican. Hey, hey, hey. Have you ever noticed Puerto
Ricans are arrogant salsa dancers? You ever notice that? If you’ve ever
been salsa dancing, you’ll notice that
Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Dominicans dance salsa
like, I know I look good. I know I look good. You wish you looked
like me, but you don’t. I know I look good. Mexicans, we love dancing
salsa, but we end up mixing salsa with this other
Latin dance called cumbia. We look like we’re
dancing the chicken dance. Da-da-da-da da-da-da,
da-da-da-da da-da-da, da-da-da-da ch-ch-ch-ch. You clapped in your head
right now, huh, bro? Look at him. He’s like, I love the
chicken dance, bro. And here’s the thing, y’all. I’m so proud to be here for,
you know, my buddy, Joe. I met Joe at Washington
State University in 2008 when he was an
undergraduate student, and now he’s an academic
adviser right here. And he’s the one
who brought me here. And I’m really proud of the
fact that I have thousands of students all over the
country that I inspired back in the day, and now
they’re all professionals doing their thing. I just flew in from El
Paso, Texas yesterday. I performed at the– I was at Stanford last
Saturday performing, and now I’m here
at Highline College in Des Moines, Washington,
baby, doing my thing. And it’s beautiful because
we have a diverse crowd here. And I love that because, you
know, the whole point of it is that we’re all the same
underneath it all, right? So we’re going to laugh. You’re going to hear
me say “Latino” a lot. And some of the jokes you’re
going to really laugh at. Some of them you’re not
going to get as much, and you’ll see the Hispanic
heads going, [LAUGHING]. And like, those of
you who aren’t Latino are going to be
laughing at the Latinos laughing so hard at me, which
is going to be really fun. And then– but it’s going to be
like a reverse kind of dynamic because sometimes
Latinos are in classes and all the Caucasian
kids are cracking up. And the Latinos are
like, I don’t get it. I don’t really get it. So the dynamic is going
to reverse here today, which is a beautiful thing– I think what we want, right? And then, is it me or
does anybody else feel bad for white people now? I feel bad for white
people now, huh? Because they voted him in. They voted him in, right? So I feel bad for
them now because, you know, he’s not really
doing what they thought he was going to do, right? It’s so weird because
that term “white people” has become so divisive, huh? You can’t even say the term
“white people” anymore. It has, like, an edge now. White people, white people–
you know what I mean? It’s like “white people” has
become like the new n-word. You know what I’m saying? It’s true. Have you noticed that? Like, you say, dude, are there
going to be white people there? Shut up, dude. They’re right there. They can hear you, dude. Don’t be saying “white people”. They’re right there, dude. They can hear you, bro. You know, it’s true, and
pobrecitos, I feel bad. If you’re a white person
that’s at my show, welcome. Thank you for being here, OK. I know we’re probably on
a similar page, right? But white people don’t even
like being called white no more. You know, I mean, is
your family white? No, my mom’s from Ireland. My dad’s from England. But we are not white, OK? We are not white. No, we are not white– just
all these negative stereotypes associated to that, you know. And I mean, I feel
so bad, you know. And just the whole
point– the good thing is that we’re all starting to
learn that you can’t put people in boxes. That’s the whole point, right? You can’t just assume
that somebody’s that way because of their
skin, because of the way they– you know, like one of my
favorite artists is India Arie. I am not my hair. I am not my skin. I am the soul that lives within. You know what I’m saying? India Arie, she’s a beast. And the other thing
too is, I think God is trying to teach us a lesson. I think God is trying
to give us a gift. And the gift that God
is trying to give us, the lesson that he’s
trying to teach us, is that, when the races mix,
when different cultures mix, the children always
come out gorgeous. Have you noticed that? Have you noticed that? Like a black daddy
and an Asian mommy, you ever seen that
combo, black and Asian? That’s kid’s gorgeous, huh? Or Asian and Caucasian, you
ever seen that combination? That kid’s gorgeous, right? Or anybody and Latino,
that kid is gorgeous. That’s all I’m trying to say. That’s all I’m
trying to say, right. We got that Latin blood,
baby, that Latin blood. Hey, hey– my girl over here,
I said when she came in, I said, what are you mixed? She said, I’m black,
white, and Filipino. Hey– it’s like, we’re
all going to look like you in about, like, 200 years. We’re all going to look like
that, beautiful, mixed of all these different races. It’s beautiful. What’s up, bro? [SPEAKING SPANISH],
huh, bro, huh? I love it. [SPEAKING SPANISH],
it’s an inside joke. It just means I can tell this
dude is very Mexican over here, right? Are you Mexicano? Oh– No, miex? Because you could
also be Peruvian too. I just came back from
Peru, Machu Picchu. Where’s your family from? [LAUGHING] You want to go? Is that on your bucket list too? I know. I just got back from hiking the
Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu, which is one of those seven– it’s not one of those
seven wonders of the world. It’s one of the modern
marvels, of the world, I think it’s
something like that. But your family’s from Mexico? [SPANISH] My mom’s Mexican, and
my Dad is Guatamalan. Oh, so you’re mixing
“mexa-chapin.” I love it, bro. I love it. Cool. He’s like, how do you know that? Over here they’re all,
what does that mean? Latinos, it’s
weird, like we also have nicknames for each other. Puertoricans are the boricuas. Guatamalans are Chapinas I don’t like talking
about race too much, but it’s just there
always, you know? Who’s more racist
against Mexicans? Other Mexicans. [LAUGHING] Have you noticed that
black people are racist each other a lot of the time. My mom was so racist when
I was growing up, like she didn’t even realize it. Like she’d go, mijo,
let’s go to the beach. I’m like, oh, cool, are
we going to Santa Monica? She goes I don’t
like Santa Monica. I go, why not? She goes, too many Mexicans. Too many– [LAUGHING] But we’re Mexicans. She goes, we’re not those
kind of Mexicans, mijo. I’m like, dang, mom. I just think we need to
hang out with each other. You know what I’m saying? I think it’s a
beautiful thing that we get to hang out, and get
learn from each other, and know each other. I love being. I’m proud to be Latino. But, like I say, with a name
like Ernesto Thomas Krechevsky, I was never really
accepted anywhere. Like you know, it’s weird, when
you don’t get accepted anywhere you, kind of, learn to be
accepted everywhere, right? Learn to kind of
compensate, and to kind of do what you got to do
to fit in everywhere. It’s a beautiful thing. People that grow up in
like mono-cultural society, they don’t learn how
to expand, and to be appreciative of other people. And I learned it
in the neighborhood because the Mexicans, the
cholos in my neighbourhood– I grew up cholos. You guys know what cholos are? You guys know what a cholo is? For those of you
who don’t know, it’s what most people
refer to as like a Mexican or
Salvadoran gang member. It’s what Mexicans
and Salvadorans refer to as family members, right? [LAUGHTER] Sir, that’s not funny. There’s one right there. Shut up, right now. [LAUGHTER] I’m just– I’m just– I’m just– He is so not a cholo. You’re like the opposite
of a cholo, bro. You’re like a fresa, right? More than anything. [LAUGHTER] You look good,
bro, you look good. He’s like, I told you we
shouldn’t have sat in front. [LAUGHTER] I’m going to go hide
in the back, jerk. I’m going to go hide
in the back, jerk. Oh, look, you’re so beautiful. May I guess? If I’m wrong, I apologize. Ethiopia? Yeah. Awesome. So gorgeous. I worked with a bunch
of Ethiopian girls at a restaurant. They– dude, you
know what’s so funny? People, they’ll talk behind
your back in their own language. They would always go– [CLICKING] They would like– you know
what I’m talking about? They would do that
Ethiopian thing. I’d go, I know they’re
talking about me, man. Well they were so cute, man. I loved it. Aw, look it, she’s like what
are you going to say about me, jerk? [LAUGHTER] No, I’m not going to
pick you guys apart– although I could. [LAUGHTER] No, see, here’s the thing. See, I was the keynote speaker– I don’t know if you
heard in my intro– I was the keynote speaker a
few years ago at UCLA’s RAZA graduation. So every year UCLA
has a graduation, and then they have a RAZA
grad for the Latino students. You know, with mariachis and pan
dulce, you know how we do it. You say, oh, they should
have had some pan dulce right here for us. Man, I haven’t had some
conchas in a long time. Wow. [LAUGHTER] Look at your face,
it’s, what’s a concha. Concha is like a
Mexican sweet bread, or a Salvadoran sweet bread. [LAUGHS] That joke usually
gets bigger laughs because most people
get that it’s funny, but you guys are
like, no, we seriously do not know what a concha is. We have no idea
what you just said. It’s Mexican sweet bread, but– so UCLA had over
300 Latino students graduating at their RAZA grad. 300 Latino kids from all
over the country graduate with their bachelor’s degree. They had over 200
students getting their Masters and their PhDs. So over 500 Latino kids
graduating from UCLA, and then they had about 5,000
of their friends and family at the graduation, right? Because you know if
one of our cousins graduates the whole
family shows up, right? I heard there was
free pan dulce. [SPANISH] Where do I go? I brought the foil in the
back to take some to go. Let’s do this, right? You ever be at a
party and your mom be sneaking chicken
in her purse? You know what I’m saying? You’re like, don’t
be doing that, Mom. That’s ghetto. But give me the big piece. Give me the big piece. You ever complain that your mom
did something and then complain she didn’t do it for you? Don’t be doing that! Did you get me some? Did you get me some? And what I told those UCLA
graduates is the same message I’m delivering here today,
highlighting college. It’s beautiful that
you guys are here, figuring out what it takes
to navigate the terrain here at college, and then eventually
either transfer or graduate from college here. Why? It’s not just the
fact that you’re here. The fact that you’re
here is beautiful, but it’s about
graduating from college. A lot of students go to college. Not a lot, or as many, graduate. In the Latino community
it’s about half of the students that start
their college education do not complete it. So it’s about
graduating from college. Why? The day you graduate
from college, the day you can say I
am a college graduate, you will instantly
transform the perception that people have
of our community. How many of you know what
I mean when I say that when most people in the world
hear the word Latino, when most people in the– I’m not talking about us. I’m talking about most
people in the world– hear the word Hispanic, or
black, or white, or Asian, but especially communities of
color like black, or Hispanic, or Latino, certain images
pop up into their head as to who they think we are. And I know in your
hearts you tell yourself, that’s not who we are. That’s who you think we are. Who we really are,
are beautiful, powerful, educated people who
contribute to this country. That’s who we really are, right? Yes you may clap. That’s who we really are. [APPLAUSE] It was so cute. I saw at least ten of
you go like this, go, I think we’re supposed
to clap right now. I think that was–
that was really– I liked that. So I know you’ve had
speakers all week, and you’re probably
not used to reacting. But for me, react. Please. OK? I want you to clap
if you want to clap. I want you to laugh if
you think it’s funny. Let it out, OK? Sometimes you want to
be respectful and quiet, and all that stuff. Not here. Not now. This is a comedy show, OK? Empowerment comedy show. So please clap it out. Clap it out everybody. Let it out of your system. [APPLAUSE] See that’s the thing about me. I don’t want anybody
to suppress themselves. We are being taught as a
society to suppress ourselves. I mean, there’s this thing about
acting appropriately and acting professionally, but
I think a lot of us have interpreted it
as shut the heck up. We have interpreted
that as shut up. Keep your head down, work
hard, and shut up, right? You’ve heard that before. No, I want you to be yourselves. I want you to be authentic. I want you to be genuine. Use– there’s a little,
still, small voice within that knows who you are. You know, one thing
I tell students– I perform in high
schools all over. Next week I’ll be in
Yacama, I’m performing at a bunch of high schools
in [? Walla, ?] Pasco. I perform in small little
towns like Mattawa, Washington, Waluke High School. That school’s so small they
don’t have a red light– they have a stop sign. That’s how small that school is. And when I perform for the
kids, I always tell them– I’ll tell you the same thing– I’m not here to tell
you who you are. I’m here to remind
you of who you already know yourselves to be. You already know who you are. You already know
you’re beautiful, powerful, educated people,
but sometimes we forget. Sometimes we forget who we are
because we get so caught up in life, start trying
to play by the rules, or live up to
people’s expectations that we forget who we are. But if you just
get restored back to who you know yourself to be,
then everything should be fine. You know how I
know that you know? I want each one of
you right now to think of the person in your family
who loves you the most. The one who loves you
unconditionally, right? For most of us it’s
Grandma and Grandpa, right? They just love you a
little too much sometimes. You know if Grandma’s like
a little too sweet to you, you’re like, Grandma,
don’t be nice to me. I was mean to my mom today. Or a lot of us it’s nieces
or nephews or somebody nice, somebody who knows
the little brothers, little sisters, little cousins. But when Grandma talks to you,
she talks to the real you, right? She talks to the–
have you ever tried to be your professional
self around Grandma? And she’s like, don’t
do that in front of me. I don’t want to see
that person right now. I want the real you. Come put your head right here. Put your head right here. She can pop your pimples and
play with your ears and all that stuff. [LAUGHTER] Some of you got grossed
out, some of you are like, oh my gosh! I miss my Grandma, right? [LAUGHTER] My Grandma used
to pop my pimples when I was twelve, dude. I loved it, bro. I go, Grandma, Grandma,
I got a good one. I got a good one. And she’s like, hey,
yours are good, mijo. Yours are really good. They really pop out. I like these, mijo. I’m sorry, but those are my
memories of my Grandmother. And half– somebody– there’s
half of you going, ugh! And the other half are
like, yeah, me too. And what happens when
Grandma talks to you? Grandma talks to
the real you, right? She says stuff like,
[SPEAKING SPANISH] You’re so beautiful, mija, you
are the most beautiful girl on the planet, mija. And in your heart you go like
this, you go, I know, huh? It’s true! Ay, why doesn’t everybody know? You should tell
everyone, Grandma. Ay, you’re like the
only one who knows me. Now, is Grandma making up
a lie about who you are? No! She’s not trying to convince you
of something that’s not true. To you– to her you’re the most
beautiful girl on the planet. Grandma knows the real you. And when people
speak consistently with who you already know
yourselves to be, what happens? A little bell goes off. Ding ding ding ding ding. You’ve got it Grandma! But when people say something
about you, or your race, or your culture,
or your heritage, or your community that’s
inconsistent with who you know yourself to be, what happens? You have a reaction. You go, ew. What? No. And a lot of times we get mad. We get angry, you know? I know you’ve heard this quote
before, but he who angers you, controls you. Anybody who can say or
do anything that has you react in a way that causes
you be not yourself, they have control over you. But when you know who
you are, when you’re steadfast in who you are– it’s easy to get
reactive media nowadays. Please don’t watch
the news, man. Just don’t watch CNN. You ever been flipping through
the channels, you see CNN, you see the dude, and he starts
talking and you’re like, huh. You know, 30
minutes later you’re like, why am I
still watching this? It’s because they know how
to play into your brain waves and they suck you in, you know? But you got to be careful what
you let come into your brain. Let me get back to
this whole UCLA thing. Like I said, they
had over three– all these students
graduating from UCLA. The message that I
was delivering there is the same message
I’m delivering here. I said it’s beautiful that
you’re here, figuring out what it takes to get through
Highline College and then graduate. Why? Because the day you
graduate from college– the day you can
say I’m a college graduate– you will instantly
transform the way people listen to you. You say, I grew up in Seattle
and I graduated from UDUB, let’s say. You say, oh, you
graduated from college? Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh! And you’ll literally
see them shift the way that they listen to you. I don’t know if you’ve
noticed this before. Some of you have,
some of you haven’t. You say, I grew up in
Federal Way, or in Tacoma, and I graduated from college. And they’re like, oh, you
graduated from college? Oh! And the whole way that
they relate to you shifts. But here’s the message– no matter how much
education you have, no matter how much
money you ever make, no matter how much
affluence you attain, if you grew up in el
barrio, if you grew up in the neighborhood–
you will always have a little ghetto
inside of you, right? [LAUGHING] See, I saw a bunch of you go
like this– a bunch of you went like this– that’s right! What’s up? And a bunch of you went
like this, no, stupid, dumb. I’m not ghetto. And it’s so cute. Some of the Asian girls
over there, they’re like, um, I’m not even
sure what that means. It’s so cute. See I don’t mean chute
ghetto, like our cousins, OK? Do you guys know
what chute ghetto is? See, I have to like– regionally, my jokes have
to shift a little bit. Chute ghetto– we say that in
LA, California, Texas, Mexico, Arizona, Chicago, they
say to chute– and Texas. But maybe not here in Seattle. Chute ghetto is like
ghetto to the max. When you know you’re
going, and then someone else is chute
ghetto right there, you know what I mean? Ghetto is that one cousin
who a lot of us have, who’s like, what, hey,
I’m ghetto, hey what, hey? What, hey? What, hey? What’s my name? What’s my name? You can’t read– you can’t
read my name right there? You can’t read that? No? Oh, where do I live? I live right there. I don’t mean chute ghetto. I mean ghetto fabulous. Clap if you know what I
mean by ghetto fabulous. [APPLAUSE] Clap if you know what I mean. OK, a lot of you are
clapping, some of you are just clapping to be polite. I think I know what
you mean, right? I love being back here on
the west side of the country. Here in Seattle, it’s
cool, because there’s a lot of Latinos in
Seattle, which is cool. But I perform on the
East Coast all the time. I was the national spokesperson
for the Hispanic college fund, I worked with the
Hispanic scholarship fund. And the college fund
was housed in DC, so I was always in
Virginia, Maryland, and DC, and I have to explain to
the Mexican kids in Virginia what a taqueria or
a taco truck– is. OK? Do I have to explain to
you what a taco truck is? No, my uncle has one on Sundays. Here’s his card. Here’s his card. He does quinceaneras,
weddings, bodas. Your cousin gets
out of jail, boom. Taquero right there, man. He’s part time taquero,
part time mariachi, depending on what you need. I go to Virginia and I’ll
ask the Mexican kids, I go, where do you guys
go for Mexican food? They’re like, Taco Bell. I’m like, no, dude. I’m talking about real Mexican
food with corn tortillas. Oh my God, Chipotle. Totally Chipotle. I’m like, no, dude. I’m talking about a Mexican
man pushing a shopping cart in an alley behind a car wash. And there’s a little white
light dangling right there. And you’re driving with your
dad, and you’re like, ooh, there’s tacos over there. You pull into some random
alley and you’re eating tacos on a milk crate, right? For those of you
who have never been to an authentic, Mexican,
makeshift taqueria. See, in LA– I don’t
know if they do this here in Seattle–
but in LA, there’s all these entreprenuers–
social entreprenuers. And on Thursdays
and Friday nights they make a taco stand
in front of their house. They just go into some alley,
and they start cutting up meat, and all of a sudden there’s
a line of 30 people waiting for tacos, right? And if you’ve ever been
to an authentic Mexican, a real Mexican taqueria, the
taqueros have figured out– the guys that make the
tacos have figured out– that you got to make the
tacos with two corn tortillas. I don’t know if
you’ve noticed this. Two Little corn tortillas. Why? Because if you make the taco
with just one corn tortilla, you cannot do the very
traditional pinch, lift, tilt, insert method, right? Now– [LAUGHTER] Look at half your faces– oh my gosh, I do that! I didn’t realize I do
that, but I do that too! See, when you grow up around
Mexicanos, or certain cousins, you were taught–
no one taught you that you were taught by them. You just did them because
everyone around you was doing them, and pinch, lift,
tilt, insert is one of them, right? Have you ever seen a
non-Latino eat a plate of tacos for the first time? Non-Latinos, it’s so cute. Like my buddy Craig. Blonde hair, blue-eyed Craig. I was the Best Man
at his wedding. Civil engineering major,
as white as white could be. I go, bro– he goes, dude,
let’s get some tacos, dude. Let’s go, dude. Let’s ethnic out, bro. Let’s go get some tacos, dude. So we go get tacos–
he’s used to eating tacos like at a Mexican
restaurant, with a mariachi, and a sombrero,
sitting down, right? But I took him to
a real taco truck. A makeshift one where you
have to stand and eat tacos. He’s like, where
do you sit, bro? I go, get the milk
crate right there. And so I give him a plate
of four tacos, right? I give him a plate. And he got the plate
and he goes, oh, can I get a fork and knife, bro? I’m like, no, dude, just pick
them up and eat them, bro. Just pick them–
you pick them up? Oh, let’s see. OK. How do I pick these up? Let me see, um– no forks? OK. Wow. Third-world country I
guess, but let me see here. Let me see, do I–
how about if I cup? Maybe If I cup the taco? If I cup– and I go, bro,
you don’t cup the taco, dude. You pinch, lift,
tilt, insert, dude. And the tilt has
to be just right. Pitch, lift, and then you have
to tilt at a perfect angle. The timing of it and the angle
has to just right, or else you might bang your nose a
little bit, right there. So– [LAUGHTER] See,
these are all things you don’t even think about. Do you think about
tying your shoelaces? No. You just do them, but
somebody had to teach you how to tie your shoe laces. Somebody taught you
pinch, lift, tilt, insert. And if you’re a real
Mexican connoisseur, a real Mexican taco eater, you
do pinch, lift, tilt, and use your pinky to make sure
that none of the meat falls off the back of
the taco right there. Pinch, lift, and ahm, ahm. [LAUGHTER] Some of you are like, stop it,
mister, I’m getting hungry. Stop that, I’m getting hungry. But if you’ve ever had a taco
that’s made with just one corn tortilla, the
juice from the meat usually cracks that
tortilla in half, right? Then you do pinch, lift,
tilt, and the meat’s still on the plate, right? So most authentic taquerias
have figured this out. So they use two corn tortillas
so you can do pinch, lift, tilt, and insert. But Latinos, we like to save
money at all costs, right? So when we go to a
taco truck, do we ever order four tacos or five tacos? No. We order two tacos, and then we
separate each of the tortillas and make four tacos. [CLAPPING] Spread the meat around. You always end up with that one
taco didn’t get enough meat– it’s like a cilantro taco. Ugh. See, the ghetto just
popped out of half of you. See? [LAUGHTER] It’s so cute. Those of you that are cracking
up are like, ha ha ha! And then those of
you who aren’t really getting it are like, I do
not understand this material. This is not speaking
to me or my culture. I don’t understand what’s
happening right now, you guys. I want to feel included. I’m feeling very
excluded in this moment. No, you just got to embrace it. Just love it, and let it in. Just love it, let it in. This is how Latinos feel
in the white classes, OK? That’s how– so this
is like a reversal. Reversal of the dynamic here. It’s so cute. [LAUGHTER] Oh, I love it, bro. I love it, dude. You’re so cool, man. I love this guy. A beautiful smile on his face. It’s so cute. There’s a lot of
things that we grew up doing that we just
automatically do, but somebody had to teach us. Like if you’re at
your Grandma’s house, and you’re eating
menudo or pozole. We like– traditional
Mexican soups, we always like to eat
them with a corn tortilla. So it’s like, Grandma,
can I get a corn tortilla? What does Grandma do? She opens that straw basket–
you know the straw basket? There’s always like 14 heated up
corn tortillas for two people. Just for two people. Grandma keeps
heating up tortillas. No, ya, estamos bien. We’re fine. No. [SPANISH] Eat it. Eat it. Grandma has calluses
on her fingers. She puts her hands on the stove. Grandma, your hands! She goes, oh. [BLOWING] She can’t even feel
nothing no more, she’s flipping so
many dang tortillas. You go, Grandma, can
I get a corn tortilla? She opens that straw basket. She hands you a corn tortilla. How do Mexicans roll
up a corn tortilla? We pinch the bottoms and
we roll that thing up. Look it, half of you went, chu! Or if you’re ever
eating menudo pozole, we like to spice up our soups. We don’t like bland stuff. So we like putting
Oregano in our pozole. Oregano comes in
the same container as the Parmesan cheese at the
Italian restaurants, right? Have you ever been to
an Italian restaurant and watched any non-Latino
put Oregano on their pasta? They’re so patient. Non-Latinos are so patient. They’re like, it’s
barely coming out. It’s hardly even coming out. Is this thing plugged up? Phh, phh, phh, phh. It’s not even–
Latinos, we don’t have that kind of patience. What do we do? We unscrew the lid, we
pour it in our hands. Then we go like that. We use our hands like grinders. We grind the oregano
with our hands. Then of course, we
never wash our hands when we’re done eating. No one ever taught us that rule. We’re just like, I’m
out of here, dude. I got to go. We’ll see you later. Then we go to church
on Sundays, and we’re giving blessings to people. May peace be with you,
and also with you. May peace be with you. And the pobrecita
senora is like, [SMELLS] Oh, marijuanero, wow. Ah. He smoked some marijuana. Oh, I’m going to
tell your family. I’m going to tell your family. You’re like, no, no, no,
I say no to drugs, senora. It’s orgeano. Te lo juro. It’s Oregano. She’s like, oregano. Ah ha. Ay, si, tu, oregano. But if you’ve ever had a taco
that’s made with just one corn tortilla, the
juice from the meat usually cracks that
tortilla in half, right? And you do pinch, lift,
tilt, and the meat’s still on the plate. Yeah, so– oh, I
already did that joke. I already did that joke. I did that joke, so. There’s a lot of things like
that, that we grow up doing. You know it’s so funny,
because some of you are going to come up
to me afterward and go, you forgot a ghetto move. There’s another ghetto
move you forgot. When you run out of toilet
paper and you go to McDonald’s to get napkins. You forgot that one. You forgot that one. You forgot that one. When you run out of
toothpaste, then you don’t throw the bottle away. You cut the tube in half, you
stick the toothbrush in there. You forgot that one. You forgot that one. You know what my mom
and me used to do? When we were kids, we were so
broke she used to make me use the same side of the
[? Q-tip ?] for both ears. And then stick it back in,
face up– the white part face up– so it looked like
you had a bunch of clean ones. Some of you are like, this just
went from funny to disgusting really fast– really fast. Some lady came up to me
after a show, somebody said, and she goes, [SPEAKING SPANISH]
you’re so funny. You reminded me of my first
baby when I was so young. I had my first child, I couldn’t
afford the diaper wipes, so I would go to a Pollo
Loco to get the towelettes. [LAUGHTER] You’re so cute. My mom did that too! That’s so cute. Oh my God. You’ve been saving up, huh? There’s girls that are
saving up the towelettes. You know– do you
ever go to the hotels and you just be saving all
the soaps and stuff like that? You’ve got so many little soaps. You never use those,
but just in case. Just in case. They’re free– might as well. They’re free. They’re free. They’re free. Might as well. Latinos and blacks
love free, huh? We will drive 20 minutes out of
our way to save $0.03 on gas. But it’s cheaper. It’s cheaper. But the drive over there, you
waste the gas going over there. That’s not the point. That’s not the point. That’s not the point. I’m not going to give
them more of my money. That’s not the point. We have no rationale. We just know like $1.99 is
cheaper than $2.02, right? That’s all we know. That one right there. I see the one and I get
excited right there. You know what I’m saying?
$2.03, that’s like $2! $1.99, that’s one and
change right there. Huh? Hey, that’s funny. I just wrote that. That’s a funny joke. I just improvised that one. That was a good one. $2.02, that’s $2, but $1.99,
that’s one and change. I just wrote that. You saw me write that? That was good. I’ve never said that before. I’ve never said that. You just witnessed comedy
in action as we speak. The creative process–
the gods are talking. The comedy gods are
speaking through me tonight. Oh, it’s beautiful– Rinocerontes? Como? Como? Rinocerontes? Oh, you want me to do your
material now, or what? Lady. Dang. Why don’t you write
a comedy show? This is my show, lady. Not yours. All right? She goes, I came
to see the jokes that I think you should do. I am an English teacher, and
I demand that I get treated– She’s so cute. How about elotes? Do the elote joke! Every other comedian
talks about elote. I’m waiting for you to do it. If you’re not going to do
it, then what’s the point? I came here to get represented. I need you to understand
my connection to elotes. It is a visceral,
emotional connection. And if you’re here
representing us, I want you to talk about corn! [LAUGHTER] No, so many comedians
do elotes jokes. I don’t do any of that stuff. I try to keep it unique. Forgive me. Forgive me. I try to not do what
everyone else is doing. But I want you to
talk about elotes. Do you guys know– elotes
is corn on the cob. In every community there’s
a Latina walking around with a big bucket
of corns on the cob. And she walks through
every neighborhood going, elotes, elotes. Elotes to us, is like
the ice cream man. OK? We hear elotes, and we’re
like, oh, oh, elotes, elotes. Mama! Elotes, elotes. And it’s so wonderfully,
disgustingly, unhealthy for us. We think it’s healthy
because it’s corn on the cob. But they put mayonnaise,
and Parmesan cheese, and butter, and sauce, and
tahini, and chile, and lime, and they spray it with lemon
salt, and all this stuff. By the time you eat it,
it’s like a heart attack waiting to happen. Feel better? All right, good. [LAUGHTER] That wasn’t quite
what I had in mind. I wanted you to
make it satirical. OK? Don’t just explain it to them. Tell them why it’s funny. So cute. I just– I try to
stay away from things that we’ve all heard before. You’ve never heard of
an empowerment comedian Mexican, American,
Puerto Rican, Russian, and French Catholic Jew. I’m trying to keep it unique. So here’s the thing, you know? These are the same– oh, oh,
so at UCLA’s RAZA graduation– that’s kind of where
I was going with this. You know, I just like educating
people on who we really are, you know? And trying to present an
alternative perspective on who people are, because every
single one of you in here knows that people think
you are a certain way, and you know you’re so
much more unique than that. Identity is fluid. Who you are has no box. It’s fluid and it
changes every day. And we kind of adapt. We’re like water. Be the water. You guys know what
I’m talking about? Bruce Lee? You ever seen that video? Just Google Bruce Lee water. Just Google that thing. Bruce Lee was a genius
before his time, man. If social media existed,
then he would have been president of the world. Bruce Lee was a beast. Be the water. The water adjusts. The water flow. Be the water. You could tell– you could feel
how real and deep that is, huh? I got to write more about that. I just watched
the video recently and I was blown away
by the brilliance. There’s so much
brilliance around us. Brilliance is everywhere. You ever catch yourself
saying something brilliant? Like, did I just say that? Where did that come from? I just thought that. I had that– that
was my thought. I think I thought that. You ever– I think
I thought that. I think I thought that. Did I think that? Or someone taught–
where did that come from? Those moments, you want to
cherish them, and write it down, and remember it. And SnapChat it, I guess, right? If it didn’t happen on SnapChat,
it didn’t happen, right? It’s like the new rule. All right, let me get
back on track here. Let me get it back on track. You guys are so great. You know the– see, I teach
leadership development workshops all over the country. And I teach emotional
intelligence to high school and
college kids all over the country– maybe
next time I’ll come back and we’ll do some of that. But one of the
things I talk about is this– powerful speaking is a
function of powerful listening. You can’t really have
powerful speaking unless you have
powerful listening. And the listening in here is so
rich– it’s so powerful that I want to share more with you. Like I just totally
went off track. I’m not even doing jokes. I’m just talking for my life– and the elote lady right here. So let me get back on
track a little bit here. These are the same jokes I
did at UCLA’s RAZA graduation, right? What was beautiful to me was
the audience was laughing. I’m a comedian, I
do jokes for laughs, but what’s even more important
to me, more poignant, was that after the show there
was a big long line of people to come talk to me. And the line was filled with
tias, tios, primos, cousins, grandmas, and
grandpas, abuelitas and abuelitos coming up
to me to say thank you. Thank you for not
only celebrating our child’s accomplishment
by graduating from UCLA, but thank you for not going them
forget who we are, where we’re from, and the obstacles
we had to overcome to get them to even go to UCLA. I said, wow, there’s something
beautiful about embracing every piece of who we are. And that’s one of my
messages here today. You got to love and embrace
every piece of who you are, including the ghetto
or the survivor within. Look, if you don’t
like that word ghetto, replace it for survivor. Because trust me, if
you’re a student here today at Highline College, you are
the product of a survival story. If I– I’m serious. If I gave this mic– in that leadership
workshop that I do, I have students
reveal their story. And it doesn’t
happen right away. It takes an hour
or two sometimes to get students to
feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable–
to tell their story. If I gave this microphone
to any one of you and said, tell us what your dad
had to overcome and go through and go through to get you
to be a student here today, we’d all start bawling. The real story– not
your elevator speech. Not the story you want people
to know– the story you don’t want people to know. If I asked you to
share how many houses your mom has had to clean,
or how many jobs she’s had to have, or all
the tragedies and drama that are going on
in your families, we’d all start crying. And then we’d want to
share our story, right? So if you don’t like
that word, ghetto, replace it for survivor. But as far as I’m
concerned, shoot. If you’re from the
ghetto, you get to. Right! If you’re from the ghetto you
get to be street smart and book smart. If you’re from
the ghetto you get to know what time it is in
the classroom and in the hood. If you’re from the
ghetto, you get to be proud of your education,
and of your culture. So if you have a
little ghetto in you, can I hear you make some noise? A little ghetto in you? [APPLAUSE] All right. I can tell some of you are
feeling me, and some of you are looking at me, going,
but we’re not ghetto, though. OK? We have worked too darn hard
to still be ghetto, Ernie. We are trying to get
out of the ghetto. OK? Maybe not. Maybe what we need to do is
embrace the ghetto within. Look, if you’re
not feeling this, here’s the ultimate
test if you think you might have a little
ghetto inside of you. When you run out of shampoo,
do you throw the bottle away? No, you pour the water inside. Shake it. Pour it on your head, right? Right? Everybody does that. Everyone does that. Even the teachers are
like, we do that to. We do that too. That’s actually not being
ghetto, that’s being thrifty. There’s ghetto and
there’s thrifty, and that’s definitely thrifty. But those of you with a
little bit of money, you guys fill that bottle up
the whole way one time. Shake it, pour it on your head,
then throw that thing away. That’s being a waster, dude. Not us. Latinos or black kids, we
fill it up a third of the way. Because that soapy water, that’s
like three shampoos in one right there. You fill it up a
third of the way, shake it, put some on your head,
then you put that the back. Then the next day,
you go in there, you get the shampoo bottle, you open
it and squeeze it on your head. Burr! That soapy water’s cold. That water’s cold. OK, only the really ghetto
people are laughing now. Then finally, the last
day, you go in there, you get the shampoo bottle, you open
it and squeeze it on your head, nothing comes out. You’re like, shoot,
what do I do now? Like the good ghetto
person that you are, you wrap a towel around your
waist, go to the kitchen, and get Palmolive
dish-washing liquid, baby. Heck yeah! Look at half your faces. You just crossed the
line on that one, mister. Hey, do a lot of you have
to go to a class right now? Is that what’s happening? Yeah. It starts at 11? Oh, so bummed. The ending is the best. The ending is going to get deep. So if you don’t have to go,
or if you can ditch your class like this lady did
right here for me, please do because the
ending is amazing. So go ahead and take
off if you have to, but please stay if you can
because the ending is the best. The ending’s the best. Sorry guys. Did you have fun, though? You had fun? Yeah. All right, cool. All right, can we do me a favor? Can you guys all come sit
in the middle now please? So I can have everyone
up in the middle? Come on, come sit in the middle. Just so I can have–
the ending is the best. Don’t leave if
you don’t have to. If you can miss the
class and get the notes, do that, because the
ending is worth it. I promise. The ending is worth it. All right. You don’t mind? Thank you. Come sit in the middle. You got to leave? Oh, nice to see you, buddy. Nice to see you. All right, thanks. Thank you, buddy. Thank you. Come sit in the– don’t
leave if you don’t have to. Don’t leave! Don’t leave! Don’t leave! The ending is the best. The ending is what
Joe wanted me to do. You just saw the jokes. You didn’t see the empowerment. Please don’t leave. [LAUGHTER] Please don’t leave
if you don’t have to. I promise you it’s worth it. I promise you it’s worth it. Aw. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know a bunch of
people were going to leave. Yes, yes, you’re still here. The small crowd that could. All right. Give yourselves a round of
applause for sticking around. Thank you, you guys. I appreciate it. You’re so awesome. So that’s the thing. I go across the country and I
tell students that I’m not here to tell you who you are. I’m here to remind
you of who you already know yourselves to be. You already know yourselves as
beautiful, powerful, educated people. You know, and l grew
up in a neighborhood where people always taught us– tried to tell us who we are. You know when you grow
up– clap if you grew up in an area where there
were either cholos or gangsters in
your neighborhood, or in your surrounding
communities. Clap if you were in
that neighborhood. So most of you will
appreciate this. Those of you who didn’t clap,
you’ll still understand it. See, when you grow up
around cholos or gangsters, you don’t really fear them. They’re just part
of the neighborhood, you know what I’m saying? You know, it’s like–
imagine if a bunch of cholos walked in right now–
like six pelones, bald-headed, white
t-shirt wearing. Orale. What’s up? Hey? A bunch of you would be like,
security, what’s going on? Security. Security. Are they your cousins? Are those your cousins? Are they here for a
victory outreach car wash or a bake sale? Is there a bake sale going on? Is there carne asada? What’s happening? I don’t get it. But if a bunch of cholos
walked in right now, I’d be like, all right, cool. I got backup. We’re straight, you
know what I’m saying? I got a ride home right there. It’d be on a bike,
not on a car, but I’ve got a ride home at least. And it’s weird too,
because I always tell students, be careful of
what you put in your brain. Try not to watch the news. The news is just about sucking
you in, making you fearful, and then throwing
commercials at you so you go consume whatever
commercial– oh, I’ve got to go buy that
burger because I feel so lonely and afraid, right? And so– oh, that went
right over your heads? No. No, that’s the fear mongering. News is all about making
you afraid– scaring you. Have you noticed that? It’s like, that rape, and
molesters, and car accidents, and death, and then
at the very end– oh, and a fireman saved a kitten. Yay. It’s like, oh, I’m going to
watch this again tomorrow. Then they throw all
these commercials– are you depressed? Are you lonely? I need that. I need– I’m going
to go buy that. I’m going to buy it right
now, as a matter of fact. But here’s the thing– there’s this show on the
History Channel called Gangland. You guys ever heard of Gangland? I love the show because
it’s based in fact. It’s based on court documents. But I don’t like it
because it makes us fear our own communities sometimes. You got to be careful what
you put in your brain. I was watching it one
time, and it’s all, some of the most notorious
of all of LA’s gangs comes from the small
Mexican-American community of Highland Park, where the
avenues run the streets. I’m like, that’s where I live. It’s dangerous right here? I didn’t know. Go to the store to buy milk. I can’t, I might get shot. You know, and it’s a
weird phenomenon too, because I perform in middle
schools and high schools all over the country. And these little
wannabe cholos– you know those little
wannabe cholos? They’re just
basically little dudes that didn’t play football. Everyone wants to
be on a team, right? They didn’t play football or
soccer, so they joined a gang. They can’t kick a ball or throw
a ball, so they steal a ball and end up in a gang. My heart goes out to
these kids, because if you listen to the news, they’re
always exaggerating. The media’s always like,
some of the most notorious of LA’s criminals, some of the
most notorious of Seattle’s gangsters. I’m like, notorious criminals? No it’s not. That’s my cousin Nacho and
his homeys right there. He’s not notorious
for nothing, that guy. The only thing he’s notorious
for is not having a job and eating my mom’s
food all the time, man. If you’re going to
come over and eat, bring some tortillas
at least, fool. When I was a kid I
wanted to be a cholo bad. I did. You know what’s crazy? I can’t believe there’s cholo
problems in Washington, man. I perform at [? Yakamaw ?]
all the time. I performed at some tiny high
school called White Swan High School on a
Reservation somewhere in the middle of nowhere. And there’s gang
problems in Mattawa. Mattawa, Washington, doesn’t
even have a stop sign — a red light. It has a stop sign. And there’s a
[SPANISH] problem– North and South problem
in this little town. I’m like, what are you
guys fighting over? Apples? Red apples! Green apples! Red apples! Green apples! Then a little cholo comes
running in, cherries! Homeys, cherries! I’m like, come on, dude. Give me a break, bro. I live in LA, where the
Mexican mafia runs the streets. The Crips and the Bloods
used to run stuff, but now we kicked them all out. Now it’s the Mexican mafia. The Salvadoran Salvatrucha
down there, right? I know you can get killed
in [? Yacamaw ?] too, but in LA, killings are
like an every day thing. You just don’t even
hear about them anymore. And it’s weird, because I
wanted to be a cholo bad when I was a kid, dude. You guys all see
that movie Grease? Everybody’s seen Grease. [SINGING] I got chills,
they’re multiplying. And I’m losing control. Look it, the girls want to go. [SINGING] You’re
the one that I want. Hoo, hoo, hoo. Darling. The one that I want. Look at their faces. Oh my gosh, we always
sing that one at karaoke. Remember the drag
races in Grease? Remember when those
cars raced in Grease? That was along the LA River. Now, the LA River is
not really a river. It’s just a bunch of cement
with a stream of water in the middle of it. But between the LA
River and Dodge Stadium, where the LA Dodgers
play baseball, there’s a little
body right there. And the cholos who
run that part of town, called Frog Town– that’s
the name of their group. Frog Town. On the other side
of the LA River, over here by General
Hospital– all your parents watch that soap opera,
General Hospital. The cholos who run that part
of town are called Dog Town. When I was a kid, Frog Town
and Dog Town didn’t get along. I never understood
that growing up. I’m like, we’re all Latinos. Why don’t we get along? They said, cross the river. See what happens. I said, I ain’t going
over there, dude. Those Dog Town dudes
were bad, dude. Dog Town dudes walk around
the neighborhood intimidating people. Dog Town, fool, what’s up? Woo, woo! Dog Town, fool, what’s up? Woo, woo! I was like, ay, perro. Couldn’t imagine
what they were saying on the other side of the river. Frog Town, fool. Ribbit. Ribbit, ribbit. Don’t make me get
my ribbit on, dog. I was like, ay, pobrecitos. All I knew was Frog Town and
Dog Town didn’t get along. When I was a kid, I wanted
to watch them rumble. Because whenever they–
what, fool, what? What, fool? What, fool? What, fool? Look at their faces. Oh my gosh, he fights
like my tio, hey? Whenever they were
going to throw it down, there was going to be a rumble. A rumble at the river. There’s going to be a
rumble at the river. Shut up, dude. Let’s go. There was something about
it that was exciting. You could feel it
in the neighborhood. The kids would be
running inside. They’d be slamming
all the doors. Grandma stick her head
out the window, [SPANISH] I love the word babosos. Babosos sounds like
Grandma’s cursing at you. Baboso! Baboso just means
slobbering idiot. That’s all that means. You know when you
fall asleep in class and you have saliva hanging
from your mouth right there? Those are called babas, right? And if that ever happened to
you, then you’re a baboso. Back in the day,
cholos, they didn’t have cars to go to the rumbles. They used to go on
their Huffy bikes. We’re going to get these fools. We’re going to get them. We’re going to get them, fool. There’s always that one dude,
he couldn’t afford a bike. He just had a
skateboard and a rope. Slow down, dude. Slow down! Don’t turn, dog. Don’t turn! The dude on the handlebars,
here comes the police, dude. Go, fool. [SWISH] And when you’re a cholo
on the way to a rumble, you got to be hard, right? You got to represent. You can’t stop your
bike with a hand brake. Dring, dring. How did we stop our
bike back in the day? With the heel of our shoe. We’re going to get
these fools, hey? [SCREECH] [SPANISH]
I was like, yeah, I want to be one of those dudes. Those dudes are bad! Until my mom found
the comb in my pants. You know what comb
I’m talking about? That round, plastic cholo comb? You slide your
finger on that thing. You guys have ever
seen those before? You have one in your
pocket right now, fool. Don’t lie. He’s so cute. He’s like, dude, I’m not
a cholo, dude, I promise. I’m a skateboarder dude. I used to hide my gangster
paraphernalia from my mom. My bandanas and my cholo combs. But I forgot my cholo
comb in my pants. And my mom was doing
laundry and she found it. She said, [SPANISH]. What is this? My son wants to be a cholo? [SPEAKING SPANISH] You get your butt
over here, Mr. I’m going to show you
what cholos feel like! Dude, I was scared. I ran, I stood at attention. She put that cholo comb
on, and she was like, POW! I had indentations on
my face for a week. Turns out I was more
afraid of my mom than I was the cholos, dude. I used to get protection from
the cholos from my mom, dude! The cholos, they beat you up
once to get you into the gang. Ka! My mom beat me up every day. My mom was also trying
to teach me lessons! You know what I’m saying? Anybody else get a lesson
teaching from their mom? Look it, nobody wants
to admit it right here. I don’t want to
put my mom on lash. I’m pretty sure there
are mandated reporters. I don’t want to
put my mom on lash. My mom was always trying
to teach me lessons, and I was really good at
blocking her teachings. My mom would try and
teach me something– POW! I’d block it–BOOM! Safe. She got mad when I blocked it,
too because I got good with it. She’d be like, pow, pow, pow. I’d be all, pow, pow, ping. Uah! I got all kung-fu
panda with my mom. Hiyah! Uah! I got so good at
blocking her teachings, she came up with alternative
ways of teaching me things. She came up with a sneak. Anybody’s mom do the sneak? Psh. Real fast. You’d be hanging out
with your friends and she comes up
from behind you. Pow. Poom. Ay! I didn’t even see
that one coming. You’ve got a give me
a warning at least. Mom, mom, mom, look, look,
look– when you warn me, I at least like to clench. I didn’t even get to
clench on that one. You got me all loosey goosey! That’s not fair. One time I caught my
mom slipping though. She did the windup. Did your mom ever do the windup? After awhile, you see your
mom’s blood starting to boil. Don’t worry, the
empowerment stuff’s coming. This cannot possibly be the
empowerment stuff, right? You ever be arguing
with your mom and you see your mom’s
blood starting to boil? You say that one thing you’re
not supposed to say– you say it. [SPANISH] [EVIL LAUGHING] [SPEAKING SPANISH] Which means,
keep talking, slobbering idiot. What do you be doing? You be staring at
your mama, going– no! No! No! I caught my mom slipping,
she did the windup. She went like that– wah! POW. I had time to react though. I was like, no! Boom! Pobrecita. She’s so cute. Aw, I’m sorry. I’m going to get to it
in like five minutes. You guys want me to do this
material before I get– the ending’s the best part. But I love talking about
my mama giving me lessons. You ever get chased
by your mama? No! No! [SPEAKING SPANISH] You make your
mother sweat, I swear to– ah! She gets her chancla– shoe. The chancla. I love the chancla. You know why? Because my mom had bad aim. She’d get the chancla, she’d
throw it, I’d be like– psh. Ah, you missed! Ooh. You can’t find your shoe. Uh oh, you found it. She gets her other chancla shoe. Be like, psh. Ah, you missed! You only got two shoes. [LAUGHS] Clunk. Ow! What the– how the– who the– where’d that one come from? You can’t have three shoes. That’s not fair. Go to school to
tell your friends. You want your friends to
feel sorry for you, huh? You want the to console you. You want to go, dude, my
mom hit me with the chancla. You want your friends
to go, no way, really? That’s messed up. Not at our high schools, huh? You go to our high
school, you be like, dude, my mom hit me with the chancla. What do your friends say? Fool, that ain’t nothing! You know what my mom did to me? She sold me out,
dude, she told my dad who pulled out the cinto. The cinturon. And not the little skinny
ones from Wal-mart. No, no, no. The big fat thick ones from
Tijuana, with the matching botas y todo, guey. [SINGING IN SPANISH] Have we got some
rancheras in the house. They’re all cracking up,
they’re like, oh my gosh, they played that
at my quinceanera. And then some of you are like,
I never got a quinceanera. I didn’t even get
a Sweet 16, guys. This is not fair. All I got was my
driver’s permit. Damn. Oh my gosh. I’m almost there. I’m almost there. Three more minutes. I just want to
finish this material. And you guys are loving it. I didn’t think you’d
be loving it so much. The high school kids love it. They’re like blah! College, half the time they’re
like this is inappropriate. This is inappropriate. You guys are like, ah! Oh, do you know what my
mom’s weapon of choice was? Her teaching stick– a long,
yellow, plastic Wiffle ball bat. A classic baseball bat. I could hear that thing coming. Vhoom. Pow! I could time it
because of the wind. Vhoom, pow! One time she missed. It went like this,
it went, vhoom– My mama’s right there. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. [SPANISH] My mom was like the Latina
Darth Vader with that thing. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. Come over to the
dark side, Ernesto. I am your mother. After awhile your mom doesn’t
even have to touch you. She just gives you the look. You know that look? Dude, the look is worse
than the touch, huh? Yes. The touch, at least
you know what’s coming. That look? You don’t know what’s coming. You ever be at a
party with your family and you’re like,
hey cous, you want to see my mom get mad right now? Come here. She’s going to get so mad, be
like her vein’s going to pop, y todo. Ven. You think my mom’s nice? She’s not nice. Then you go do that thing you
know you’re not supposed to do. Your mom doesn’t
have to touch you. She just goes– Vhoom. [LAUGHTER] Watch. Complete the second
half of this statement. Watch. Vas– A ver. –a ver. Vas a ver means
you’re going to see what happens when we get home. And what are you be doing
the whole rest of that party? You be kissing your mama’s butt. You’re my favorite mommy. My mom is like, I’m
your only mother, and you’re still getting
it when we get home. I’m like, dang,
mama, you bad mama. I said, where are
you from, mama? Where are you from? Oh my God, you know
what’s so cute– you ever get too old
to be given a lesson? You’re twelve and you’re
taller than your mom. [INAUDIBLE] fellows. Dude, when I was twelve,
I outgrew my mom. My mom went like that one time. All I did was stand up. My mom was like, ay! Ay! Ay! I said, no, no, no. I’m not going to
do nothing to you. Just don’t do it to me no mores. [SPEAKING SPANISH] My mom was like, [SPANISH]. Don’t talk to your
mother like that, baboso. [SPANISH] Give me your face right here! Psh! You ever have to give
your mom your face when you’re getting a lesson? OK go, mama. OK, go. No, no, no. Mejor pompis, mejor pompis. I have more cushion
here than I do there. I’d prefer this area, please. After awhile– dude, you ever
talk back to your parents? Oh. One time my mom went like
that and I went, stop it! I’m going to call
the police on you! You know what my mom said? You know what she said? She said, good. Call the police. I’m going to do this
in front of them! That way everyone in
this neighborhood– [APPLAUSE] –that way everyone
in this neighborhood know what kind of a boy I
have living in this house. I said, dang, mama,
you bad, mama. I said, where are
you from, mama? Where are you from? Mama, I said, don’t
worry about it. They say I’m from nowheres. My mother does not
speak like that, OK? It just makes the joke
funnier, that’s all. Look at some of your
faces– dang, Ernie G’s mom, straight up hood rat. My mom’s like, tell them
I’m a hood rat, mijo. I don’t even know
what that means. Just tell them. I don’t care. Pa’ que aprendan. So they learn. So they learn. You know what’s so cute? I’ve done these jokes
all over the world. I was in Japan entertaining
our troops with these jokes. I just performed in Stanford
a few days– last Saturday. Now I’m here at Highline College
in Des Moines, Washington, and it always gets the
same mixed reaction. Most of you– there,
it’s definitely 50-50. Here, it’s like 25% of you
guys are cracking up, going, oh my God! That happened to me! But the other 50%
of you, and a lot of teachers at the
high schools, when I perform they’re staring
at me with their arms folded, with a blank
stare on their face. Who approved the budget
for this person to come? Is this– are we
paying for this? And I’m sure a lot
of those of you who go– who aren’t related to
this are going, oh my gosh, did that really happen
to these people? Oh my gosh, you
guys, that is not OK! Under no circumstances
is that ever OK. You guys, we are at
Highline College. We have counselors
available for you. We can write you
a referral note. You guys do not need
hits– you need hugs. All we ever got in my
house was a time-out. I wish I could get a
time-out when I was a kid. I didn’t know
you’d get time-outs from being disciplined. The only thing I
knew about time-outs was from soccer, or basketball. My mom would have been
teaching me lessons– pow. Time-out! Time-out! [SCREAMING] My mom would have gone,
OK, baboso, go, time-out. 28, 29, 30. Time-in! Pow! Look, I shared this with you for
one reason and one reason only. I am not up here condoning
corporal punishment, OK? I’m not saying it’s cool that
our parents did that to us. I am saying this– that the only reason our
parents ever did that to us is because our grandparents
did it to them. You do what you’re taught. If you’re taught by the hand,
then you teach by the hand. But if you’re taught
with love, you’re going to teach with love. That ended up being the greatest
gift my mother ever gave me– to have me respect her more
than I did the streets. The streets wanted me. That was a pull. I wanted to be in trouble bad. You know, I always have
principals and administrators come up to me, are you
sure that this material is appropriate for our
high school age students? Are you sure that
our middle school– I just performed yesterday
at the Isleta Middle School on the border of
Juarez and El Paso. Like, you could see Mexico
from the playground. And those kids, man– are you sure it’s appropriate
that they see– and I’m like, have you seen the memes
on their smart phones? I’m not teaching them anything
they don’t already know. But here’s the true
answer to that question– I’ve talked to judges,
behavioral health specialists– what makes something abuse? A lot of students have
suffered real abuse. And what makes it real
abuse is the context– it’s the anger. It’s done out of anger
with the intention to harm. That makes it abusive. But with our moms, it
was to teach us a lesson, she did it out of love, right? Isn’t it weird that the
harder your mom hits you, the more you knew she loved you. She got a good one in one time. Ay! My mom loves me on
that one right there. See, that ended up being the
greatest gift my mother– when you have
suffered real abuse, you lock yourself in a
dungeon in your own mind, and you think no one
can relate to me. Nobody knows what
I’m going through. And you get depressed. But when you come
to a show like this and people are
cracking up, maybe you realize that you’re not alone. That ended up being the
greatest gift my mother ever gave me– to have her
respect her more than I did the streets. The streets wanted me. That was a pull. I wanted to be in trouble bad. I wanted to get a spider tattoo,
a teardrop tattoo, three dots for mi vida loca y que, guey. But I was literally
more afraid of my mom than I was the
cholos in the hood. Had I listened to the
cholos in the hood, I would have ended
up dead or in jail. I listened to my mama, I ended
up being a college graduate. So I thank my mama every
day for loving me that much. Thank you mama. [APPLAUSE] Let me just wrap
up by saying this. My mom– your parents
are the reason you get to be who you are today. I’m going to repeat that. Your parents are the
reason you get to be– you don’t have to be here. You don’t have to
come to school. You don’t have to do well. You don’t have to study. You don’t have to
do your term papers. You get to. You get to go to school. Do you know how
many students would love to trade places with you? Do you know how many
people who are 19, 20, 21, they’re like, ugh, I
should have gone to school. Why am I here
digging this trench? Why am I here cleaning? This job I don’t even like? They would love to trade places. You get to go to school,
and you have your parents to thank for that. When it was time for me
to go to high school, the conventional
wisdom of the day– teachers would tell the parents
of the black and Latino kids– back in LA the
teachers would tell the parents of the black
and the colored kids, since you’re child’s probably
not going to go to college, they should learn to
work with their hands. Develop a skill that will
help them in the workforce. Mechanics,
electronics, woodcraft. Gardening would be
wonderful for your child– since they’re probably not
going to go to college. The rich kids, they
got encouraged to go to St. Francis College Prep. It wasn’t even called
St. Francis High School– it was called St.
Francis College Prep because the
expectation was you were going to go to college. The rich kids, college prep. The brown kids trade tech. Now, if you’re sitting
there thinking, hey, my dad went
to a trade tech. My brother went to a trade tech. I’m not discouraging
trade techs– that’s a great alternative
for people who don’t want to go to a four-year college. But I’m encouraging
all of you to graduate from a four-year college. Highline’s a great
school– two years, and I know now you have
some four-year programs. But get yourself into
a four-year school and graduate with
a four-year degree. Everybody here deserves that. My mama said, no, those
kids can go to St Francis, my son’s going to St. Francis. We did sneak across this
border fair and square. My mom snuck over here
when she was 9 years old, made it to California. Boom. Safe. It took her– it took my
mom 20 years before 9/11 to get her papeles– to
get her papers, right? Now, since 9/11, it’s almost
impossible to get your papers. It costs so much money. There’s so many
documents– you guys know about the undocumented
dilemma here, right? It took my mom 20 years before
9/11 to get her papeles. She was– Mom was a proud
citizen of the United States of America, but it
took her 20 years. So can we open our
hearts and our minds to my undocumented dream
students out there? [APPLAUSE] DACA and Dream students? Yeah? All right, cool. Last thing is this–
so my mom said, you’re going to St Francis,
but it’s a two hour drive and I can’t take you. So you’re going to get up
at 3:30 in the morning, take three buses, OK, Ernesto? So I took three buses at
St. Francis College Prep, all boys Catholic high school. There were three Latinos
in my freshman class. There were two black dudes
too– the running back and quarterback of our football
team, you know what I’m saying? You know how prep schools
don’t recruit, right? Oh my God, that got
crickets in here, man. That usually gets
a chuckle at least. You guys are like, that
is not funny or right. It’s true. In LA they say you’re
not supposed to recruit, and they always recruit
like two or three brothers to play on the football team. Anyway, I guess that doesn’t
happen here in Seattle, we’re all liberals here? OK, fine. Whatever. So anyway, so I go to
St. Francis College Prep and that’s where I met
Miss Donna Huckabee. Miss Donna Huckabee is my
one guidance counselor– that one mentor,
teacher, or coach, that looks at you in your heart,
looks at you in your soul, that says something to you you
didn’t even know about yourself. How many of you guys have
ever had a mentor, teacher, or coach, say something in
your face, and in your heart you go like this– how do you know? You who don’t know me. You know that feeling? Don’t talk to me
all comfortable. You don’t know my life. That was Miss Huckabee. She said, you’re a leader. People love you
because you’re funny. Where are you going
to go to college? I said, I don’t know. Where’d you go? You know when someone’s
trying to love you too much, they don’t even know you? Hey sweetheart. How are you doing? Where are you going
to go to college? Look, I don’t know. Where’d you go? She said, I went to Loyola
Marymount University. It’s a small, Jesuit,
private Catholic University. I think you’ll fit right in. Oh, well then I’ll go there. I took the SAT once. I applied to one school. I don’t recommend
students do that– but because of the love
of Miss Donna Huckabee, I got into Loyola Marymount
and became the first person in my family ever to
go to college right after high school. Thank you. I appreciate that. How many of you, when you
graduate from college– not if, when you graduate– will
be the first in your family to do so? Do we got some
first gens in here? Give yourself some love. That’s an amazing feat. That’s an amazing feat. Why do young people become
gangsters and cholos? Because somebody
influences them to. No little kid wants
to be a cholo. You ever see these
little cholos at the mall that are two years old? They have like, you
know, a little wife beater and a Raiders Jersey
or something, you know? You ever seen that? And you feel like, that kid
doesn’t even have a chance, man. Why do young people
become college graduates? Because somebody
influences them to. For me it was Miss
Donna Huckabee. I got into [? Loyola ?]
Marymount, and what happened? I got scared. I didn’t have a
lot of resources. I didn’t have a lot
of people teaching me. I didn’t have a lot of
love of people telling me, this is what you’re
going to expect. This is what’s going to happen. I just showed up. And all of a sudden,
there was all these people with more money than me. I started drinking, started
partying, started hanging out. I managed our basketball team. So if you’re a basketball
fan, you’ll love this story. If you don’t love basketball,
you’ll still appreciate it. I managed the highest
scoring basketball game in the history of NCAA
Division One basketball. Loyola Marymount University beat
US International, 181 to 150. Most points ever
scored in a game. Why am I sharing this with you? Because my parents
were never married. See, the leading scorer
on our basketball team was this guy named Hank Gathers. Hank Gathers lead the country
in rebounding and in scoring. No player had ever
done that before him. Only two players had ever
done that before him–he was the third ever. So he was on ESPN all the time. So I used to see
him around campus. And see, my parents
were never married. I am the result of
a noche divertida. My dad went salsa dancing
and nine months later, boom. Ernie G. And so, I didn’t have a
male role model in my life. So when I met Hank
Gathers, he was one of the strongest dudes
I ever met in my life. And I go, you, Hank,
my name’s Ernie. I’m the manager on
the basketball team. He said, hook up
some towels, y’all. Trying to clown me, right? I said, no, no, no. I’m the manager on
the basket team. Just wanted to introduce myself. He said, hook up some
towels, youngin’. He grew up in the projects
in South Philadelphia. He didn’t know I grew up north
of East LA, Highland Park. He didn’t know that. I said, hey, dog, you scratch
my back, I’ll scratch yours. He said, all right,
then come on dog. Threw the ball at me,
we started shagging. Bam, we became boys. To this day, I still have
Hank Gathers size 13 Reebok, his number 44 practice jersey,
his Loyola Marymount hoodie. Why? Listen, the whole
thing about Hank– my parents were never married. So when I met Hank Gathers,
the most powerful guy that I ever in my life, you
know I felt connected to him. But I never used to
share that on stage. I wouldn’t tell people
my parents were married. Then after a show, some cholo
came up to me, a gangster. He goes, hey, homes, can I
talk to you for a second, dog? I said, what did I say? He said no, no, no. [SPEAKING SPANISH] I can’t
believe you put yourself on blast like that, homie. I’m like, what do you mean, dog? He goes, hey, my parents
were never married either. And until I heard
you speak just now, my whole life I thought
I was a mistake. But after listening to you,
I realize maybe I’m not. I said, God doesn’t
make mistakes, bro. Your job is to figure out why
God put you on this planet and give your life over to that. He said, mucho respeto, homes. So now I tell people my
parents were never married. So when I met Hank Gathers,
the most powerful guy I’d ever known in my
life, he became my boy. We were friends
until March of 1990, when he went up for
an [INAUDIBLE] dunk on national television,
dunked the basketball, had a heart attack on
the court and died. The most powerful man
I’d ever met in my life was gone in an instant. If there’s any old school
basketball fans out there, you’ve heard this story before. Hank Gathers is a
really well known guy who died on the court. When Hank Gathers died,
I started drinking. I started partying. Started hanging out. Got put on academic probation. You know what that means? You got to get a 2.0
to stay in school. You get a C- or a D now, you
can work it out next semester. You get on academic
probation, you get a C-, they kick you out. I went to my biology
class, I looked inside. I was like, you know what? These people have no idea
what it’s like for me, man. They don’t know
what I go through. These rich kids, they have
no idea what I struggle with. You know what? Forget this. I’m out of here. Went to my bed, pulled
the blankets over my head, and knocked out for three days. I slept for three
days in my dorm room. You know how hard that is to do? Well I did it, and got
kicked out of college. First person in my family to
go to college, to becoming another Latino statistic. A drop out. And it was devastating for me. I went back home and my mama’s
like, what are you doing here? I said they kicked
me out of school. She said, no they didn’t. You go back and you tell them
you them you want to go back. I said, I can’t. They kicked me out. She said, mijo, I came
over here from Mexico when I was nine years old. And all I’ve ever wanted was
for you to get your education. You go back and you beg
them if you have to! But get back to school, mijo! I said, I can’t. They kicked me out. Dejame en paz. Went to my bed, pulled
the blankets over my head and knocked out. You think I slept for
three days this time? Oh no, no, no. Not at my mama’s house. 5: 00 A.M. the next
morning, my mama’s like, Be good for something. Take out the trash! I get the trash, I walk outside. I’ll never forget this day. My foot hits the pavement. Goosh. It went from no rain to rain. I felt the floor, I
was holding trash, and it was raining on me. I started thinking
about my life. I had got kicked out of
Loyola Marymount University. I owed that school
$26,000 in student loans, and I didn’t even graduate. I got arrested
for drunk driving, the state of California
versus Ernesto Grichevski. I totalled my car
in a car accident. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have money. I didn’t have a pot to pee in. I was sitting on the
floor, I was holding trash, and it was raining on me. Now, I’ve never been addicted
to alcohol or drugs, thank God, but that was my rock bottom. I hit rock bottom. I looked up to God and was
like, what do you want from me? What do you want from me? Not three days later,
my tia got sick. Now my tia, my aunt,
is that one aunt we all have that Christmas is
always at your tia’s house, Thanksgiving is always
at your tia’s house. If you’re ever
hungry there’s always a pot of beans or frijoles
at your tia’s house. I called her at the hospital. I said, tia, are you OK? She’s like, no, mijo, there’s
something wrong with my blood. They’re going to
do some testing. I said, can I come visit
you at the hospital? She said, you mom is really
mad at you right now, mijo. I said, tia, I want
to come see you. She said, quedate con tu mama. Stay with your mom. I’ll never stop regretting
that I didn’t go visit my aunt. Why? The next day my cousin called. She’s dead, cous. I said, what did you say to me? My mom, Rose, your tia? She’s dead. I said, no, no! I grabbed the phone
and I threw it. God! As I ran down the street. No! No! Why? And in that moment,
of all people, Miss Donna Huckabee
popped into my head. She said, everybody
knows that rage. Everyone has felt that anger. When you feel that
rage and anger, don’t take it out on people,
don’t take it out on things. Get yourself a pen and a pad
and write your feelings out onto the page. I got a yellow pad and a
pen and I started writing. What is the point of life? Who cares about school,
or study, or anything when you can just
take people from us? Hank Gathers is dead! And then you took my tia. How could you take my tia? She was the most beautiful
woman on the planet. She walked with the grace
and dignity of an angel. Anybody who ever met
my tia loved her. I’m going to miss you, tia. Rest in peace, tia. I love you. And all that rage
turned to so much love. And I remember going to her
funeral, and at her funeral the priest was
saying a few words, but he didn’t know my tia. He was saying stuff like, I’m
sure Rose was a lovely lady. I’m sure Rose was
a wonderful person. I’m sure people really
cared about Rose. What do you mean, I’m sure? Who is this dude? I don’t care if
he’s a priest, man. People need to know
who my tia was. Somebody needs to give a
proper eulogy to my aunt. People need to know
there was always frijoles at my tia’s house, man? The priest said, you
feel so passionately? Why don’t you say something? I said uhwa? Uhwa? And in that moment, ding! Miss Donna Huckabee,
always trust yourselves. We’re not saying you can trust
the world, Highline College, but you can always
trust yourself. I looked out to the audience
and I said, ode to a Rose. Why did my tia die? Why did God take the
one angel we still had living on this planet? I don’t know why she died,
but I promise everyone here I’m not going to let
her death be in vain. I’m go back to Loyola
Marymount, and I’m going to graduate in her honor. And I ask every one of
you, do that thing that you know you’re supposed to do. Dance that dance. Sing that song. Construct that poem. Get your grades up. Get into the college
of your choice. Graduate from the
college of your dreams! If not for me and my
tia, then for the people you most know and love. And then I said, I’d like to
end this eulogy in the way my tia most remembered me
by, and that is with a joke. My family’s like, no, no,
no, [SPEAKING SPANISH] You don’t do that at church. Ernesto! Ernesto! I said, no, it’s OK. My tia loved me for this. I said, how many roses does
it take to make violets blue? I said, if all of us here today
are violets, it only takes one. Rest in peace, tia. I love you. And it was silent like this. And my uncle was sitting
right there, bro. And he stood up,
clapping and crying. And then they all
looked at him and they started clapping and crying. And they all went [CHEERING] And I went, woah! I never felt that before. And in that moment I captured
for myself what Miss Donna Huckabee had seen in me– that I’m a leader. And I don’t have time to tell
you guys the whole story, but the short version is this. There was a big long line
of people to talk to me. I thought the line was to give
bendiciones a mi tia, blessings to my aunt in the casket. The line was to come to me. They said, how did
you know what to say? How did you know
what words to use? You said what I was feeling. I just didn’t know
how to express it. I said, I just trusted myself. And in that moment, I committed
to getting back into college. Now the short version is I
went to a school very similar to Highline College– Pasadena City College. I was committed. I’m going to take four
classes, I aced them all. Took four more
classes, aced them all. I got eight As. I went back to LMU, I
said can I come back? I got eight As. They said come
back in two weeks. We’ll review your records. I showed up later– two
weeks later with a suit, ready to be re-accepted to LMU. The Dean of my college, with
a lot of the other Deans, at this big long table. The Dean and Sister,
a nun, monja, said, after reviewing
your academic records, we suggest you pursue your
academic endeavors elsewhere. I said, no. No, no, I’m doing
this for my tia. She died. I got eight As. What more do you want? She said, good luck. And I had a moment. Commit or sellout? Commit to my education–
which once I have, no can ever take from me
for the rest of my life– or walk out feeling
like a loser. Walk out in shame and sell out. I stopped, I looked back, I
grabbed that Sister’s hand. I squeezed it. I said, with all
due respect, Sister, nothing’s stopping me
from graduating from LMU. I’ll see you again soon. I walked out of there going,
I’m going to hell for sure. I’m going to go for sure. Here’s the weird thing. The moment you
commit, the universe will conspire to
support your commitment. What did I just say? I said that the moment you say
in your heart, in your soul, in your gut, if it is to be, it
is up to me, all kinds of doors will open for you that would
not have otherwise opened. So please repeat after me. If it is to be– If it is to be– –it is up to me. –it is up to me. Nice and loud. Everyone. If it is to be– If it is to be– –it is up to me. –it is up to me. The moment you say
that, and mean it with every ounce of your
fiber, the universe will conspire to support
your commitment. Long story short, I
got a random phone call from the dean of the psychology
department, Doctor Renee Hurang, who I had
never met before. She said, hi, Ernie. I heard you want to come back to
LMU, and I’m going to help you. You are? Who are you? How’d you get my number? What do I got to do? Train for the marathon? I’ll meet you at the track
at 5:00 A.M. I don’t care. Let’s do this. She’s like, no
sweetheart, we just need to prove to them
that you’re serious. Long story short, I went
to Pasadena City College, Santa Monica City College,
UCLA extension classes, to take Statistical Methods
for the third time in my life. I went to Cal State LA. Took 14 classes, got
12 As, 2 Bs, 10 letters of recommendation from
every teacher that gave me an A. And with the love of Dr.
Renee’s hands on my shoulders, got readmitted for
my senior year. I made the Dean’s List
my last two semesters in honor of my tia. And on June 14, 1994, I
walked up onto that stage, got my college degree
with my name on it, looked out to the
audience– hold on– and I said, Mom, Rose, I did it! [APPLAUSE] I did it! And that is the feeling that
each and every one of you wants to feel. The day you graduate from
college, you will forever– for the rest of your
life– be able to say, I’m a beautiful,
powerful, educated person. And if you’re like
me, you’ll always have a little ghetto
inside of you. All right? [APPLAUSE] Hey I got two parting gifts,
really quick before we go. Really quick, I brought
these for all of you. OK? This right here– I’ve
never been married, I don’t have any kids,
I’m college educated, I’m pursuing my dream,
I have a heart of gold. Basically I’m a catch. The problem is, I’m looking for
a beautiful, powerful, educated woman who has a little
ghetto in her, OK? I want the kind of
girl I can sneak food with into a movie theater. OK? I want the kind of girl who gets
turned on with a coupon, right? Or who’s in love
with the elote lady. No, I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. But to honor– this year
for Valentine’s Day, I didn’t even take out a date. You know who I took out
for Valentine’s Day? I took out my mom
for Valentine’s Day. That’s right, boy. That’s right. Had a good time, too. Took her to the movies, went
to dinner, went to the theater after, and I didn’t
spend a dime, boy! My mom knows how to
treat a man, dog. My mama’s good to me. She didn’t even
let me pay the tip. I’m like, at least the tip, mom. She said, guarda
tu dinero, mijo. Save your money. It’s a joke, people. I took my mom, I
paid for my mom. But to honor my
mom, the best way I know how, I decided to name
my first comedy CD Mama’s Boy. Aw. People always ask
me, is that really my mom on the cover of my CD? I’m going to hire a
model to be my mom. She’ll kick my butt. It’s 52 minutes of clean comedy. I know college students are
broke, but if you all buy one then you can put it on
Pandora and sell it, and all that stuff. Anyways, just kidding. You can look me up on Pandora. There’s an Ernie G channel. Please don’t leave without
getting one of these. I gave this to a
girl eight years ago when she was a sophomore
in high school. Was going to go to a local
community college maybe. She shot for the stars, got
a full ride to Stanford. Graduated from Stanford. She just graduated with her
master’s degree in education from Stanford. She took a picture of this
and posted it on Facebook. And she said, when I
forget who I am I read that and it reminds me of who I am. It’s my parting gift to
Highline College 2017. Thank you, Joe, for
bringing me out here, man. I look forward to
coming back every year, maybe doing a leadership
workshop with you guys. That’d be fun, right? My parting gift to you is this. And let’s stick around. When we’re done, can
you guys come down here and we’ll take a group
picture– a group selfie? And then if anyone wants
to have lunch with me, I’m getting hungry. So we’ll go have lunch. All right? We’ll go pinch,
lift, tilt, insert. [LAUGHTER] My parting gift to you is this. If you’ve heard the movie– if
you saw the movie Coach Carter, you’ve heard this quote. If you saw the
movie [INAUDIBLE], you heard this quote. But you probably never
heard it quite like this. My parting gift to you is this. Our deepest fear is not
that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we
are powerful beyond measure. It’s our light, not our darkest,
which most frightens us. And that’s not the
way we think, y’all. The way we think is, I’m afraid
I might not be good enough. I’m afraid I might
not be strong enough. I’m afraid I might
not be smart enough. That’s not what you’re
really afraid of. What you’re really afraid of
is how awesome and amazing you might actually be. We ask ourselves, who am I? Who am I? It’s a very Latino thing to say. [SPEAKING SPANISH]
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You’re a child of God and
you were put this planet to make manifest that glory of
God that’s within you– to let your light shine, bro. I had a little girl
just like you, mija, she came up to me after
the show one time. She said, Mr. Ernie,
you were awesome, but you kind of
made me feel bad. I said, why do you
feel bad, mija? I feel bad because
I get straight As. I said, excuse me? Why do you feel bad for
getting straight As? Because my friends and
cousins get Cs and Ds and they make fun of me. I said mija, your playing
small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightening
about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. You are meant to let your
light shine as children do. And when you let
your light shine, you unconsciously give
permission to other people to do the same. As you are liberated
from your fears, your presence automatically
liberates others. So I just want to
say, Highline College, please continue to
let your light shine, and thank you for letting
me let my light shine. All right, you guys. Awesome. Thank you. Thank you, bro. I appreciate that. Oh, yo, standing ovation. All right, come on
down– come on down and take a picture here, man. Here man, before you go.

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