Cristela Alonzo
Cristela Alonzo at PaleyFest - preview for her show, Cristela
Alonzo at the PaleyFest preview for Cristela
BornJanuary 6 1978 or 1979 (age 44–45)
MediumStand-up, television, film
Years active1995–present
GenresObservational comedy, blue comedy, physical comedy, surreal humor, satire
Subject(s)Latin American culture, everyday life, sex, racism, social awkwardness
Partner(s)Stephen Halasz (2008–present)

Cristela Alonzo (born 1977 or 1978[1]) is an American actress, stand-up comedian, writer, and producer, who created and starred in the ABC sitcom Cristela.[2] This made Alonzo the first Mexican American woman to create, produce, write, and star in her own US primetime comedy.[3][4]

Early life

Alonzo was raised in San Juan, Texas, the youngest of four children of mother Natalia Gonzalez, who worked double shifts at a Mexican restaurant for about 20 years,[5] and father Adalberto Alonzo, both of whom were from Mexico. When Alonzo's mother was pregnant with Alonzo, Alonzo's mother left her abusive husband and raised the children alone.[2] Alonzo has explained that she never met her father, who died in 2009.[6]

She has three siblings, older sister Julisa Maria Alonzo and older brothers Eloy Eduardo Alonzo and Ruben G. Alonzo.[2] Alonzo's mother came from the small village of El Zancarron in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.[7] Throughout her childhood, on her mother's weekly day off, Alonzo spent time with her paternal grandmother in Reynosa, Mexico, just across the border.[4]

For the first eight years of Alonzo’s life, the family squatted in an abandoned diner, and were homeless and destitute, even with her mother working double shifts as a waitress.[2] She often went hungry, and had problems with skin pigment due to a lack of nutrition.[2] Alonzo said her mother often used humor to offset the abject poverty.[8] Alonzo learned English from watching TV as her family spoke only Spanish at home; her mother never learned to speak English.[2] Television was a way for the family to stay inside, avoiding the violence from drug trafficking in their neighborhood. Alonzo would translate American shows into Spanish and act them out for her mother.[2] Alonzo and her mother were inseparable. Alonzo and her mother shared a bed until Alonzo turned 18.[2]

Alonzo was raised in a very strict Catholic household.[2] Because her older sister married young, she spent much of her childhood hanging out with her older brothers and became interested in comic books, trading playing cards, a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dungeons & Dragons, and metal music.[9] She graduated from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School.[6]

At age 18, Alonzo left home to attend Webster University to study theater in St. Louis. However, Alonzo dropped out because she could no longer afford school.[10] She went back to Dallas and moved in with her sister, where she took care of her mother who was sick and her sister's children.[10] Alonzo's mother died in 2002.[2]


In 2003, a year after her mother died, Alonzo got a job as an office manager at the Addison Improv[7] and started doing stand-up. Alonzo said that she started doing stand-up as a way to process her grief and talk about her mom and her family.[8] She was part of a small Dallas scene.[11] Alonzo eventually moved to Los Angeles to become a stand-up comedian.[2]

In 2006, Alonzo got her first break in Los Angeles when she was hired to write on a Comedy Central show.[12]

Alonzo spent two years traveling on a bus with the Honduran-born American comedian Carlos Mencia and several other comics.[2] Alonzo ended up leaving the tour. Alonzo then spent a lot of time on the road doing college comedy shows, where she found a lot of success.[2]

In 2010, Alonzo was a semi-finalist on the TV show Last Comic Standing, which raised her visibility and led to a May 2011 segment in the comedy showcase Legally Brown.[12]

Alonzo did a 30-minute segment of Comedy Central's The Half Hour on June 7, 2013.[11] She has appeared on Conan, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand Up Revolution, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Live at Gotham.


In 2013, with TV producer Becky Clements, Alonzo created her own semi-autobiographical comedy pilot Cristela for ABC.[13] She wrote the pilot with her writing partner, Kevin Hench. It was not greenlit as a part of the 2013–2014 television season. In an unusual move, they decided to plan to shoot a pilot presentation with the penalty money (a 30% fee they got when the network initially passed).[14] On February 26, 2014, they shot a pilot presentation,[15] filmed on the stage of Last Man Standing with much of that show's crew to save money; it got a strong testing response from the audience.[16]

On May 10, 2014, ABC picked up the pilot to series for the 2014–15 television season.[17][18][19] After an initial order of 13 episodes, nine additional episodes were ordered, bringing the total count of episodes for season 1 to 22.[20][21][22] Cristela was a multi-camera show, shot in front of a live audience.[2] The series concluded on May 7, 2015, and has since been cancelled.[23]

Alonzo in 2016


In 2017, Alonzo voiced the character of Cruz Ramirez in the Disney-Pixar film Cars 3.[24] [1]

In 2017, Alonzo released a Netflix stand-up special called Cristela Alonzo: Lower Classy.[25]

In 2019, Alonzo published a memoir called Music to My Years: A Mixtape-Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up.[26] The memoir release is accompanied by a stand-up tour called My Affordable Care Act.[27]

In 2020, in association with Vox Media Podcast Network, Alonzo hosted and voiced the 11-episode podcast Chicano Squad, which details the story of a five-man Latino homicide investigation squad who worked to resolve police injustice in the Houston area during the 1970s. The podcast first aired in December 2020 and recorded its final episode on March 16, 2021.

Alonzo is a frequent guest player on the game show 25 Words or Less.

In 2021, it was announced that Alonzo would host The CW's revival of the 1990s game show Legends of the Hidden Temple.[28]

In 2022, Alonzo released a Netflix stand-up special called Cristela Alonzo: Middle Classy.[1]

Comedic style

Alonzo has a trademark, raucous laugh: "If I’m laughing, you know I’m either very happy or very sad", she said. "I cope with things with jokes."[2] She is an observational comic who reflects on stories in her own life, and was inspired by Bill Cosby and Roseanne Barr and her favorite childhood shows (The Cosby Show and Roseanne).[29]


After the 2016 election, Alonzo has stated that with the mentorship and encouragement of Dolores Huerta and poet Sonia Sanchez, she became more politically active, with a focus on immigration and healthcare.[30]: 238 [31] She supported Julian Castro for his 2020 presidential campaign. Alonzo has been outspoken as to the lack of representation of Latino candidate Castro on Saturday Night Live in their coverage of Democratic candidates. Julian Castro's twin brother Congressman Joaquin Castro introduced Alonzo on-stage on in-video in her 2022 comedy special Middle Classy, referring to her as "my badass friend".[32]

Alonzo was criticized for celebrating the death of Rush Limbaugh on Twitter on February 17, 2021, when she tweeted out the post "Happy Rush Limbaugh is Dead Day. I didn’t even get the chance to put my tree up!"[33] She was further criticized for doubling down by saying that she was "Not sorry...".[34]



Year Title Role Notes
2013 Hot Pursuit Connie Short film
2016 The Angry Birds Movie Shirley Voice
2017 Cars 3 Cruz Ramirez Voice
2018 That's Harassment Costumer Dresser Short film
2019 The Laundromat Special Agent Kilmer
2020 Coast Debora Avila


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Mind of Mencia Writer, 15 episodes
2011 Sons of Anarchy Latin Woman Episode: "Fruit for the Crows"
2012 Ladies Room Diaries Bathroom Attendant producer, writer, 3 episodes: "Rubik's Cubicle", "Okey Dokey Karaoke", "Hide n' Cake"
2012 Hey It's Fluffy! 4 episodes
2012 The Book Club Cobra Chai / Cristela Episodes: "The Warrior Reads On", "All Valley"
2014–15 Cristela Cristela 22 episodes, creator, executive producer, writer
2015 General Hospital Natalia Rodriguez 1 episode
2019–22 His Dark Materials Hester Voice role; Recurring role
2020 The Casagrandes Camila Voice role; episode: "Grandparent Trap"
2021 The Upshaws Anna 2 episode
2021–22 Legends of the Hidden Temple Host
2021 Earth to Ned Herself Episode: "Growing Up Ned"
2022 Cars on the Road Cruz Ramirez Voice role; episode: "Gettin' Hitched"
2023 Is It Cake? Herself / Judge Episode: "S'more Cake Please"

Video games


  • 2007: Carpet Diem, writer
  • 2007: Cookie de Mayo, writer
  • 2008: Life After, writer
  • 2008: Recycled, writer
  • 2009: TGIF: The Musical, writer, story
  • 2011: The North Council, writer
  • 2017: Miss Fritter's Racing Skoool, actor as Cruz Ramirez

Stand up

Works and publications


In January 2014, Alonzo was named as one of "10 L.A. Comedy Acts to Watch in 2014" by L.A. Weekly.[35] She was also named one of "13 Funny Women to Watch in 2014" by Cosmopolitan.[36] McAllen, Texas gave her the Key to the City in 2019.[37]


  1. ^ a b Villareal, Yvonne (June 28, 2022). "Cristela Alonzo is ready for a comeback. Is Hollywood ready for her?". LA Times. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Dominus, Susan (October 17, 2014). "Cristela Alonzo Wants to Make America Laugh". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 3, 2021.
  3. ^ Fernandez, Maria Elena (October 10, 2014). "All Jokes Aside, Cristela Alonzo Makes TV History". NBC News.
  4. ^ a b Hinojosa, Maria (October 24, 2014). "Cristela". Latino USA. NPR.
  5. ^ Miller, Bruce R. (November 15, 2014). "Cristela Alonzo realizes a life-long TV dream". Sioux City Journal. Archived from the original on January 11, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Nichol Smith, Amy (June 14, 2010). "Comedian, San Juan native Cristela Alonzo is on her way to the big time". The Monitor.
  7. ^ a b Salamon, Jeff (October 2014). "Rio Grande Valley Girl". Texas Monthly.
  8. ^ a b Rosario, Daisy (October 24, 2014). "Cristela!" (Audio interview). Latino USA.
  9. ^ Alonzo, Cristela (February 14, 2014). "Valentine's Day Is Awkward For This Nerdy Tomboy..." Cristela Alonzo. Archived from the original (Blog) on October 30, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Alonzo, Cristela. "A Thousand Miles". Cristela Alonzo. Archived from the original (Blog) on November 27, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Czajkowski, Elise (June 4, 2013). "Talking to Cristela Alonzo About 'The Half Hour', Her Development Deal, and Working Herself to Death". Splitsider. Archived from the original on December 14, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  12. ^ a b Martin, Michel (August 8, 2012). "Cristela Alonzo, Making Funny Her Own Way". NPR.
  13. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 2, 2013). "Cristela Alonzo Latina Comedy From 21 Laps/Adelstein Lands At ABC With Penalty". Deadline Hollywood.
  14. ^ Blair, Iain (July 22, 2014). "10 Comics to Watch: Cristela Alonzo Scores a First With ABC Sitcom". Variety.
  15. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 26, 2014). "Cristela Alonzo Latina Comedy From 20th Century Fox TV Gets ABC Order". Deadline Hollywood.
  16. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 7, 2014). "Cristela Alonzo & Jerrod Carmichael Pilots: What They Say About TV Biz". Deadline Hollywood.
  17. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 10, 2014). "ABC & 20th TV Reach Deal: 'Cristela' & 'Fresh Off the Boat' Picked Up To Series, 'Last Man Standing' Renewed". Deadline Hollywood.
  18. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (May 10, 2014). "ABC Orders Comedies 'Cristela,' 'Fresh Off the Boat,' Renews 'Last Man Standing'". Variety.
  19. ^ Maglio, Tony (May 10, 2014). "ABC Picks Up 'Cristela' and 'Fresh Off the Boat,' Renews 'Last Man Standing'". The Wrap.
  20. ^ "The little show that could, 'Cristela,' gets picked up for full season". Fox News Latino. November 25, 2014.
  21. ^ Ausiello, Michael (November 24, 2014). "Cristela Snags Full-Season Pickup". TVLine.
  22. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (November 24, 2014). "ABC's 'Cristela' Gets Full-Season Pickup". The Hollywood Reporter.
  23. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 2015). "'Forever' & 'Cristela' Cancelled By ABC". Deadline Hollywood.
  24. ^ Snetiker, Mark (January 5, 2017). "Cars 3 first look: Meet Pixar's new millennials". Entertainment Weekly.
  25. ^ Garcia-Navarro, Lulu (March 5, 2017). "From Mom Jokes To Trump-Era Racism, Cristela Alonzo Aims To Skewer Latino Stereotypes" (Includes audio interview). Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR.
  26. ^ Alonzo, Cristela (2019). Music to My Years: A Mixtape-Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up. New York: Atria Books. ISBN 978-1-501-18920-3. OCLC 1121187767.
  27. ^ Porter, Rick (July 15, 2019). "Cristela Alonzo Sets Stand-Up Tour, Memoir Release (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  28. ^ Cordero, Rosy (July 14, 2021). "Cristela Alonzo To Host CW's Reimagining Of 'Legends Of The Hidden Temple'". Deadline. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  29. ^ Terrero, Nina (October 10, 2014). "'Cristela' creator talks sitcom inspiration, 'Golden Girls'". Entertainment Weekly.
  30. ^ Alonzo, Cristela (2019). Music to My Years: A Mixtape-Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up. New York: Atria Books. ISBN 978-1-501-18920-3. OCLC 1121187767.
  31. ^ Roe, Mike (October 8, 2019). "How To Become An LA Comedian: Cristela Alonzo Explains". LAist. Archived from the original on October 13, 2019. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  32. ^ "Watch Cristela Alonzo: Middle Classy | Netflix Official Site". Netflix.
  33. ^ "Hollywood Celebrities Celebrate Death of Rush Limbaugh". February 17, 2021.
  34. ^ Alonzo, Cristela; Ogilvie, Jessica (September 30, 2014). "Best of L.A.: Cristela Alonzo's Last Day in L.A.: Corn on the Cob, Chorizo and Doughnuts". L.A. Weekly.
  35. ^ Seabaugh, Julie (January 2, 2014). "10 L.A. Comedy Acts to Watch in 2014". L.A. Weekly.
  36. ^ Zulkey, Claire (January 1, 2014). "13 Funny Women to Watch in 2014". Cosmopolitan.
  37. ^ Cepeda, Paola (November 16, 2019). "Cristela Alonzo receives Key to the city of McAllen". KGBT. Retrieved November 16, 2019.

External links