10 Comics to Watch: Gotham Sensation Ricky Velez Becomes ‘Nightly’ Breakout

With his New York-centric stoner humor (see his “finger-in-my-pocket” subway bit on YouTube) and born-and-raised Queens accent, it’s no wonder the actor (“Rapturious”) and standup is known as one of New York’s funniest. He’s a regular at clubs and was featured in the New York Comedy Festival’s fifth annual Comics to Watch list. And now, as a new correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show” with Larry Wilmore, Velez has also made the jump to “Cuba expert,” at hand for expert foreign relations analysis as needed.

That February show debut marked several other firsts for the 26-year-old, who is “actually Puerto Rican/English/Irish,” he notes. “It was my first TV show and first time on Comedy Central, all thanks to Larry, who’s been a big supporter.” It was also his “first chance to really watch the whole process of creating a show, which was pretty cool.” Velez got his start training at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts — “Kevin Spacey gave me my diploma.” After dropping out of college (“it just wasn’t for me”) he began doing standup in local clubs.

Next, Velez guest stars on the season finale of the Netflix series “The Untitled Aziz Ansari Project” “as a taco truck vendor,” and is “working hard to get an hour of material together over the next year, hopefully for my own TV special. That’s my big goal now.”

Reps: Agency: UTA, Management: 3 Arts
Influences: Dave Chappelle, Mike DeStefano, John Leguizamo

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