Contact Us




The Arizona Daily Wildcat Online





News Sports Opinions Arts Classifieds

Thursday March 29, 2001

Basketball site


Restaurant and Bar Guide
Daily Wildcat Alumni Site


Student KAMP Radio and TV 3

Arizona Student Media Website

UA music instructor selected as stand-up comedy finalist

Headline Photo

By Daniel Scarpinato

Arizona Daily Wildcat

David Membrila said he hopes to take his stand-up act to television

Growing up in South Tucson, David Membrila, a UA music instructor and a comedy finalist for NextBigStar, Ed McMahon's spin-off to his 80s TV talent show "Star Search," never dreamed that he would someday have the opportunity to be on television.

"I was always the class clown and a total goof, but never on stage," Membrila said. But four years ago Membrila saw a comedy show at Laffs Comedy Caffe on East Broadway that changed his outlook.

"I called the comedian who had been performing that night. I told him, 'I've seen your act, and I think that I can do what you do,'" Membrila recalled. "He sat on my couch, and he didn't laugh at one of my jokes."

Membrila continued performing at local clubs and learned to perfect his routine through a process of trial and error.

"Tucson has become comedy friendly. It's a great environment to learn in," he said. "The bombing makes you a stronger comic."

While continuing to teach his mariachi class at the University of Arizona by night and his music students at Mansfeld Middle School by day, Membrila remained focused on his lifelong dream of being a stand-up comic.

"I wish I would have started this a lot sooner," he said. "I didn't have dream-building teachers."

Membrila has tried to integrate this concept of "dream-building" into his classes at Mansfeld by encouraging students to stand in front of the class and tell a joke that they have written.

"There's a way to make anything funny," he said. "It's taking a phrase or a concept or the irony of a situation and putting a hook on it."

Membrila's concept of using real life situations and putting a spin on them has not always gone over well with his wife.

"I have a whole routine that I wrote when she was pregnant," he joked. "But it's just a character I do. Still, my wife hates it."

Starting Tuesday, Starsearch will allow one week for the public to vote on its website for the best stand-up comedian. The top three of eight finalists will appear on the NextBigStar TV special and have a chance at winning $5,000 in money and prizes.

Membrila is optimistic about his future in comedy and admits that ideally he would like to do stand-up full time.

"I am hoping that there are agents in Hollywood who will be watching this program," he said. "I would gladly take the opportunity if I was handed a script."