Chris Estrada as Julio Lopez in This Fool
You might not imagine gang members baking cupcakes or racing toy cars around South Central Los Angeles, but that's just some of what they're doing in Chris Estrada's comedy, This Fool, debuting August 12 on Hulu.
Estrada plays Julio Lopez, a thirty-year-old who lives at home with his mother, grandmother and sisters and is still dating his high-school girlfriend... kind of. Julio spends his days helping everyone around him, though he needs plenty of help himself. He works at Hugs Not Thugs, a nonprofit that rehabilitates gang members — which is where the post-prison high jinks come in. (Michael Imperioli plays the minister who runs the group.)
By filming in South Central, Estrada hopes to give viewers a real look into the lives of its residents, gang members included. "When you have these people in your life, you see a human aspect of them — that they're funny and loving and protective of you, but they also bust your balls and make fun of you," he says. "You see them as fleshed-out human beings."
Growing up working-class in South Central, Estrada wanted to be a TV comedy writer but thought he'd find "more immediate access in stand-up comedy." He put it off, delayed by "self-doubt and other self-destructive behavior," but eight years ago, he went to an open mic and began his career. While honing his craft, he unloaded trucks at a warehouse to pay the bills.
Pat Bishop, Jake Weisman and Matt Ingebretson were fellow comedians he "looked up to comedically and artistically, as they were making video sketches and short films." After the trio created Corporate for Comedy Central, they worked with Estrada to develop a show based on his comedy routine, in which he talks about where he grew up. All four are executive producers and writers on the series. Fred Armisen and Jonathan Groff joined as executive producers, and This Fool was born, a series they pitched as "If Friday was directed by the Coen brothers."
This Fool marks Estrada's acting debut. "In stand-up, you can be yourself in front of others and somehow, it's okay," he says. "But pretending to be someone else or reading scripted lines in front of others is a real challenge — one I really enjoyed!"
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #9, 2022, under the title, "Bringing It Home."