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Jill-Michele Meleán on new comedy special ‘White Latina’

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Jill-Michele Meleán on new comedy special ‘White Latina’ (Image courtesy of Comedy Dynamics)

She even punctuates her interviews with perfect comedy timing. Jill-Michele Meleán (formerly of “Mad TV” and “Reno 911!”) has returned in ‘White Latina,’ a one-hour standup special chronicling 15 years of hilarious real-life stories and spot-on celebrity impressions. The special is available now on demand from iTunes, Amazon Prime, Spectrum, Google Play and other digital delivery platforms.

Meleán says she believes her Miami melting pot upbringing contributed greatly to her ability to find the funny in most any situation. Her Irish mother and Bolivian father unknowingly became a tremendous influence, she says.

“And of course, they divorced immediately after I was born,” Meleán said. “How could those two ever stay together? I would go from my father’s house, which was like complete South America, to my mom’s house, which was very much like a house in Ireland. Then you factor in the fact that I grew up in Miami – which made me Cuban by association – and you have the perfect brew to turn me into a comic.”

Though she has been firmly planted in Los Angeles for years, Meleán’s Miami Beach upbringing is never far from her mind, she says.

“I wasn’t a bad kid, but I was brought up in an extreme Latin culture on Miami Beach,” she told me. “When I was about 14, there was a valet that would come around with our car. I would take the car, grab my friends, and we would go out dancing. That was the Miami culture – the sweat, the heat, the salsa – it was incredible. I got away with it for about six months, until they called my mom and asked if I was allowed to take the car. The answer was no (laughs). Didn’t everybody do that when they were growing up?”

Having visited Miami Beach several times with my wife, I asked Meleán if the locals ever get used to Miami’s heat and humidity.

“No, you don’t. Everything is air-conditioned in Miami,” she responded. “The go-to hangout place is the mall because the A/C is pumping and it’s cool. It’s a different kind of heat in Miami. It’s like hot breath. You don’t have to go all the way to Miami to experience that level of heat. Just go to one of those hot yoga studios and stand there. Throw in some cockroaches and a couple of Cubans and there you go – it’s Miami.”

Of her years on “Mad TV,” Meleán says it was a great honor to be part of that cast. Her indelible impressions of Britney Spears, Jenna Bush and Jennifer Lopez (among many others) made her an in-demand member of the troupe.

“To dive into those characters I had been doing my whole life, it was lights, camera, action. It was an amazing time in my life,” she said.

Of “Reno 911!,” Meleán says “The level of talent on that show was incredible. It brought out the best of everyone.” She credits her time on the program for helping hone her improvisational skills.

“I had done improvisation before but the way they encourage you – they’re such geniuses,” she said. “That show felt like family which is why I kept going back. Then we got to do the movie in Miami which I really loved.”

Two years ago, Meleán wrote and starred in “This is Meg,” a semi-autobiographical indie dramedy about the life of a working actress and comedienne in Los Angeles.

“My comedy is big and broad and full of impressions and voices,” Meleán explained. “I wanted people to have a glimpse of what it’s really like to be a female comic in Los Angeles. That was just the baseline. The movie is more about the relationships in this town – and they are unique. LA attracts some very eccentric people. People send me emails all the time saying ‘I didn’t know it was really like that. Oh my God.’”


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