Marijke Rowland

Modesto’s Arguello makes TV debut

Scene Stealers

Comic Marcella Arguello is a 2002 Johansen High graduate.
Comic Marcella Arguello is a 2002 Johansen High graduate. Marcella Arguello

You can’t miss Modesto-raised comic Marcella Arguello.

One, because the 2002 Johansen High graduate stands an impressive 6 feet, 2 inches tall. Two, because the 30-year-old has a signature shock of curly hair. And three, because she is funny – really, really funny.

The stand-up made her national television debut last week on “Last Call with Carson Daly.” The appearance is the culmination of nine years of working hard and telling jokes across the country.

She was booked on the show after one of its talent scouts saw her name on an Upright Citizens Brigade lineup and Googled her work.

“She saw my clips online and said, ‘We have to have her on the show.’ That almost never happens to comics,” Arguello said. “I was really floored. That was the most organic way to be booked on a TV spot.”

Arguello, who grew up in Modesto and whose family still lives in the Central Valley, has called Los Angeles home for the past five years. While in school in Modesto, Arguello acted in middle and high school theater productions. She then went to California State University, Stanislaus, to become an elementary school teacher.

But after two years there, she realized standing in front of a room of elementary students was not her calling. Friends encouraged her to try stand-up comedy instead. She transferred to San Francisco State for a year and then took the plunge.

“You have to take that leap of faith and make the move to New York or Los Angeles to do this,” she said. “But I didn’t want to be away from family because I love coming back to Modesto. So I went to L.A.”

Arguello said friends who knew her from her Modesto days shouldn’t be surprised by her comedy career. She considered herself a class clown, though she was most known for her Michael Jackson impersonation. She started imitating him when she was about 10, and it remains part of her act today.

She has been a regular at the Punch Line in San Francisco and Sacramento as well as the Comedy Store in L.A. In 2009 she took home the Modesto Area Music Association Award for best comedian. Arguello describes her comedy as a little bit of everything – some observational humor, some one-liners, some impersonations, even some singing and dancing.

“I’m such a big fan of comedy. I don’t try to be one specific thing. I do anything that makes me happy,” she said. “I’m adamant about being multifaceted.”

Right now, Arguello said stand-up, and becoming the best stand-up she can be, is her main goal. She continues to play shows across California and beyond. This past weekend she was in Utah. Northern California fans can catch her at – what else – a Michael Jackson tribute show at the Punchline in San Francisco on June 23.

She admits that making it in comedy isn’t all laughs. She has played small bars, slept in cars, crashed on couches and more in pursuit of her dreams.

“It’s such a tough career. It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun. You have to love it. The best comics really work at it,” she said. “I just want to be considered the best. I don’t think enough women focus on being one of the best stand-ups the way a lot of men do and are considered. It’s a lofty goal, but I think it’s possible.”

But rest assured, that thing she said about loving Modesto wasn’t a joke.

“I really do love being in Modesto. People think I’m lying when I say that,” she said. “But I aim to come back at least once a month.”

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