Francisco Ramos moved to Los Angeles in 2006 to do improv but made the leap to standup, lured by the appeal of relying only on himself, "With improv, you always have to be working with people who are on the same page as you and can stay on the same page, with standup, it's just you." He started hitting open mics and spending time at The Comedy Store, and jumped in, running the music on one of the shows in the Belly Room.
About a year later, after seeing him hanging around and going up on the open mic, Tommy offered Francisco a job working the back door, which he took on top of an office day job. "Working at the Store really helped me become a comedian - not just getting to do the spots, but also being able to watch great comedians. The Store is really like a school of comedy when you first start out. It becomes a gym later, but first it's a school." As he learned his comedy lessons and grew as a comedian, he started getting sent to La Jolla and booked on shows all around town.
Then about 2 and a half years after he started working at the Store, he got passed. "It was the perfect timing. At about the two year mark, I started to feel like I'd reached the end of the shelf life of my working at the Store. I had gotten so much out of it, but then I was getting other work and it almost became a hassle to figure out who could cover my shifts. It was also perfect timing in terms of my comedy. I wouldn't have been ready a year earlier, but I was ready when it came."
As everyone in the Store family does, Francisco had support and encouragement from the guys in the classes ahead of him, like Al Madrigal and Steve Rannazzisi. One of Francisco's first supporters was Ian Edwards, "He was really welcoming and was the first person who'd been doing it for so long to treat me like a peer or a friend. Just knowing there was going to be this guy who was my friend there made things easy." He was also drawn to Sebastian's style and point of view and they connected one weekend down in La Jolla, which led to Francisco's first road gig, opening for Sebastian in his hometown of DC.
Francisco had a pretty average first set and didn't experience the psych-out a lot of people do, but it did inspire him to write a lot more. "That first 15 minutes felt long. And it was a challenge because opening the OR, you have to find a way to warm up the audience, talk to them, but you have to get them ready to hear jokes, too. You might have to start low to connect with them, but you have to find a way to end it high." Once passed, having those 15 minute spots, specifically in the Original Room, allowed Francisco to really grow and experiment, "I could talk about more things, I didn't have to just do 3 minutes of jokes about my accent. That's the great thing about the Comedy Store, you can take chances and it helps you become the person you want to be onstage, and really off stage too. For the people who love that place, there's some kind of energy that draws us all in and you look around and see 'Wow, there's people like me.'"
Working out in the late spots that new Regulars get helped Francisco feel confident in his mechanics - crowd work, how to make connections, how to drive the energy of the room - and then that gave him the foundation to make his material even better. "Now I feel like I can go up and know 'I'm gonna get you' then get them - that's about trusting your material."
Francisco wanted to get passed at the Store first because it's the gym where the best of the best work out. He also was drawn to it for the sort of contradictory reasons that it's the most welcoming club in terms of hanging out, meeting and watching other comedians and because it's the toughest place to really get accepted. "The whole point of the fraternity and the hazing is really the whole point of comedy. Especially when you first start out, you're gonna bomb a lot and you have to be tough enough to get back up the next day. It also toughened me up to the point where I didn't care - I was able to let go and have fun and that's when you have a magic set."
"No mater what I do in my career, I'll always have a place in my heart fo the Store. It'll always be my home club."