Pablo Francisco, famous for spoofing movie trailers, performs live at DC Comedy Loft

Listen to our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Pablo Francisco at DC Comedy Loft (Part 1)

One man. One way. One desire to spoof a movie trailer voice and become a star.

Pablo Francisco performs at the DC Comedy Loft from Thursday through Saturday.

“It’ll rip your voice up,” Francisco told WTOP. “I got a callus with a cigarette butt.”

How might the movie trailer voice describe the past two years of the pandemic?

“This summer has misery written all over it,” Francisco said. “Starring Keanu Reeves, ‘Whoa!,’ and Mark Wahlberg, ‘Hey man, you got Delta? You got Omicron?’ [Explosion] This summer, it’s ‘Omicron Delta Corona 2 Virus,’ [explosion], coming to a theater near you!”

Born in Tucson, Arizona in 1974, Francisco started at The Improv and Laff’s Comedy Club.

“I was like 18 years old,” Francisco said. “Every single week, the owner Gary Bynum was bringing in the best headliners. It was Tim Allen and Bobcat Goldthwait. … Then, Pauly Shore came into town … and I opened up for him at the University of Arizona. … I worked it from there and jumped back and forth to Los Angeles. … It was a beautiful thing.”

His comedy colleagues turned out to be important showbiz connections.

“You meet comics like Mark Brazill, we’d go out and party,  I dropped him off at the airport, he was like, ‘You’re not gonna see me again, I’ve got a show idea,’ it turned out to be ‘That ’70s Show,'” Francisco said. “You’d see comics that make $250 a week all of a sudden, boom, they write a movie and it’s $1 million. … ‘Hey, man, I just bought a boat!'”

Francisco tried putting together his own development deal.

“Back then it was like, ‘Did you get your development deal yet?'” Francisco said. “Mine was called ‘PABLO: Phoenix Auxiliary Biological Law Officer’ [with] one of the producers of ‘The Simpsons.’ … It was a ‘Mork & Mindy’ thing, a kid who grew up watching TV … came from another country and [learned] these voices by watching TV … but it didn’t go through.”

Instead, he wrote commercials for Coca Cola, content for NFL Films and ultimately, joined the cast and writing team of the hit sketch comedy series “MADtv” from 1996 to 1997.

“My dad saw me and goes, ‘I don’t know what this comedy business is about, but you need to get out of this house’ … kicked me out of the house,” Francisco said.  “Five weeks later, I came back. … He goes, ‘I got some bad news for you. There’s a woman on Channel 11 on Fox on ‘MADtv,’ she’s doing your stuff.’ I went, ‘Dad, that’s me. I’m the Mexican girl.'”

What did he enjoy the most about working on “MADtv?”

“The writing was so good,” Francisco said. “They said, ‘Artie [Lange] got a movie deal and is going to leave for the next seven episodes, would you like to join?’ … Talk about a powerhouse of great writers, Patton Oswalt was on the team, Orlando Jones. … You’d go to Warner Bros. Studios and every week was someone different: Mark Hamill, Ike Turner.”

It was around this time that he discovered his movie trailer talent.

“Kevin James just got ‘Star Search,’ so we’re in Vegas … and I kept going, ‘One man, one desire,’ and he goes, ‘You really need to start doing more of that,'” Francisco said. “Frank Caliendo was doing it, so I talked to Frank. … He goes, ‘I’ve got this show, ‘Frank TV.’ Why don’t you come down. We’re doing The Three Tenors of Movie Guys.

The third guy in the sketch was real-life movie trailer king, Don LaFontaine, who invited Francisco over to see his house during a five-hour break from filming the show.

“He says, ‘Let’s go downstairs and do some voiceover,” Francisco said. “He said, ‘I go do three of these a day and I live like a king.’ … He takes me around his house and goes, ‘This was my first movie.’ Then he goes, ‘We need to work on your voice.’ He picks out a camera and goes, ‘I want to take a picture with you because you do me better than I do.'”

LaFontaine died in 2008, but Francisco carries on the legacy.

“I used to call him like every week, then he asked if I wanted to do voiceovers,” Francisco said. “He gave me his own recording stuff. It’s in my house right now! It’s where he did all of his movie previews. … Now, it’s starting to pick up great, so I’m activating the studio. … A guy is building a studio in my house. … At the time, he treated me better than my dad.”

Today, his father finally believes that he actually made it.

“When you come home drunk and go, ‘Hey, Dad! I’m a star!’ … your dad is like, ‘Yeah, right,'” Francisco said. “I was pulling out in my Corvette and he said, ‘How much drugs did you sell for that?’ After a while, we flew into Washington one time at the Mayflower [Hotel]. He goes, ‘I gotta hand it to you, I’m so sorry I never backed you up, I had no idea.'”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Pablo Francisco at DC Comedy Loft (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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