The Francisco Kid

By phone from Kansas City, Missouri -- where he's performing at a comedy club called Stanford & Son's -- Tucson native and MAD-TV regular Pablo Francisco does the most impressive of his several ace impersonations. It's "The Trailer Guy" -- the deep, sonorous voice that intones the come-ons behind movie previews: "ONE MAN -- ONE DESIRE -- THIS SUMMER, GET READY FOR SCHWARZENEGGER!"

The effect that Francisco, who plays the Tempe Improv this weekend, creates with this voice is remarkable. It sounds almost as if he is able not just to deepen his tone, but to shift it to some other frequency. He can ring variations on it, too:

"There's different kinds of trailer voices. There's the scary one, you know, "ARE YOU READY -- DEEP IN THE NIGHT -- THIS SUMMER -- FEEL THE TERROR,' and then there's the happy one." With that, his tone brightens, without losing any of its depth and authority: ""THIS SUMMER -- GET READY FOR A VERY BRADY SUMMER.' I did some research on it; there's about five or six guys that do those voices."

Maybe Francisco could make a career of it himself, if the standup thing doesn't work out. But at the moment, it seems to be working out fine. The son of Chilean parents -- his father worked as an observatory technician at the UofA -- Francisco started out with a gig at a Tucson steak house, as half of a comedy duo called "The Blowout Boys."

Since then, he has played Improvs all over the country, among many other clubs, and appeared on much TV: A&E's Evening at the Improv, Showtime's Full Frontal Comedy and Latino Fest, Fox's Comedy Compadres, the Jerry Lewis Telethon, Comedy Central's Short Attention Span Theater and, most notably, MAD-TV. He's also a national TV spokesman for Church's chicken, and appeared in a Coke commercial shown in movie theaters. He has a CD on Uproar Records, called Knee to the Groin, and his vocal talents are featured on an upcoming episode of the animated series The Family Guy. "The main character goes to Cuba, and I do all the Cuban voices," he says.

Though Francisco's repertoire of characters includes Johnny Carson, Jerry Seinfeld, Casey Kasem, Dennis Hopper and Arnold Schwarzenegger, he's quick to point out that impersonations and sound effects aren't his whole act. "I basically talk about my parents, talk about my family," he says. "And I got special Tempe material. How hot it gets there, you know."

Although he cites Paul Rodriguez as a mentor, Francisco is uncomfortable with being pigeonholed as a Latino comic. "My act is a universal act," he says, and accordingly he cites Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Klein and Steve Martin as major influences.

He does, however, still use as part of his act a character called "Rosa," an archetypical "Mexican girlfriend who's not afraid of anything. If you've got a Mexican girlfriend, you don't need a big brother." -- M.V. Moorhead

Pablo Francisco is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 29; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, July 30; the same times Saturday, July 31; and 8 p.m. Sunday, August 1, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University (at Cornerstone mall). Call 4809219877 for more information.

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