DOWNEY – For many young people, the road to finding their calling in life is filled with twists, turns and changes. Many will go through several different careers before finally settling in. Comedian Vic Diaz knows this all too well.
Diaz, 25, was raised in Downey and only moved out of the city to live with his girlfriend last year, however, he still frequents the city as his family is still local. Diaz went through the Downey Unified school system, graduating from Warren High School in 2008 after spending four years highly involved in many of the Bears’ instrumental music programs.
He then went on to Cerritos College, initially wanting to do music education. However, Diaz says that it wasn’t long before “reality hit me.”
“Careers after graduation are very slim, so I thought I need to do something that’s going to take care of me in the future,” said Diaz.
After experimenting with other potential fields of study, Diaz was led to a field that had interested him before, but that he had never tried.
“I meddled with computer science for a little bit, but that had math and like every good journalist, math is my worst enemy, so I said that’s not going to work for me,” said Diaz. “I had an English class with a professor…the professor asked ‘What do you like?’ and I said music and writing. So he goes ‘Why don’t you become a music journalist?’… from there the rest is history.”
After taking a few journalism classes, Diaz began working for the Cerritos College newspaper, the Talon Marks. During his two years at the Talon, Diaz filled several staff roles including assistant arts editor, news editor, production manager, and eventually editor-in-chief.
Diaz put college on hold when he “termed out” of the school paper and could no longer take any journalism credits, falling a few units short of graduation.
“I ended up landing a job at La Opinión, which is the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the country; circulation of about 500,000 a day, and that’s their print,” said Diaz. “From there I got cocky, and I thought I don’t need school anymore, you know? Get through college just to get a job and here I am with a job, I don’t need it anymore. Systematically about two months later I got fired.”
After his setback at the Opinión, Diaz tried several different avenues to keep his journalism aspirations alive, writing independently and even attempting to operate his own news website. However that fell through as well.
“The problem with that was so many young journalists now, you know they’re out of college or they’re still in college, [they] want that paid gig right away. You tell them, ‘Hey, I can’t pay you but it will get your name on a byline and you know you get that exposure you can put on résumé; that’s a clip for you!’ They don’t take that into perspective…Eventually I decided that the business isn’t what I thought it was and it really discouraged me from continuing.”
Diaz’s next and current endeavor came through a conversation with his girlfriend, and it is one that many would consider to be ambitious.
“I work a day job like everyone else, and like most people I’m unhappy with the work I do…I was just very unhappy; very jaded. A job is fine but I need to do something that’ll make me happy,” said Diaz. “I was talking to my girlfriend one day and she’s like, ‘What do you like to do? What do you think makes people happy?’ And I said I like to make people laugh. I like telling jokes and doing impressions of people…maybe standup comedy.”
Diaz found his way into the industry when he introduced himself to another comedian at a comedy show. Since then he has been using social media to help him book more shows and appearances.
Diaz says that the modest crowds he has been entertaining have taken well to his brand of humor which includes impressions, anecdotes from his personal life, and observations on current events.
“[The] crowds have been really receptive and really liked me. Even people I don’t invite are like ‘Man, that was great’ and give me feedback. I really like it when other comics who have been doing it for a long time give me feedback. I love that constructive criticism because it helps me work and it makes me realize that my name is being thrown out there.”
Diaz hopes that eventually he will be able to bring a consistent stream of comedy back to Downey.
“I love Downey; it’s where I grew up, it’s where most of my friends are. My goal, ultimately, is to have a comedy show in Downey…imagine 10 years from now if people are talking about the comedy scene in a little town called Downey? That’d be great, and I want to be responsible for that.”