Sharing an American dream

Comedian Che Guerrero talks about his ‘American Immigrant’ podcast

3 minute read
He’s got a story. What’s yours? Che Guerrero hosts the ‘American Immigrant’ podcast. (Photo by Ralph Ferro.)
He’s got a story. What’s yours? Che Guerrero hosts the ‘American Immigrant’ podcast. (Photo by Ralph Ferro.)

Creator and host of the American Immigrant podcast Che Guerrero features guests who have come to America in pursuit of a dream and explores how they are maneuvering through these turbulent times.

Guerrero has a story to tell. The comedian’s brand of standup grounds itself in themes of identity, heritage, and liberty, through his own experience of immigrating to the US from the Dominican Republic as a child. Guerrero has shared that story, among many other ideas and anecdotes, with guests on his remarkable two-year-old podcast.

Space for honest stories

He created the show because standup comedy had limited space for his interviewing and producing skills. “I can find people with interesting ideas worth listening to,” Guerrero says. “This show is important to me because it gives people of color, especially immigrants, a safe space to tell their stories in an honest way. These stories help other marginalized people feel less bogged down by their hardship.”

From fellow comedians to local artists to political candidates, the podcast features guests from all walks of life. Guerrero doesn’t have a set venue for live-audience podcast recordings—he enjoys having the freedom to work with different theaters and bars. It took only a few events for the host to realize that “traveling reveals how different communities have different concerns.”

Comics and candidates

The latest live edition of the show featured two guests who want to improve their communities: City Council at-large candidate Adrian Rivera-Reyes and Court of Common Pleas judge candidate Nicola Serianni. Guerrero led a fascinating discussion of politics and entertainment with this lineup of two political minds plus two comedians, Setoiyo Ekpo and Katonya Mosley.

The episode (aptly titled This Sh*t!) covers everything from ill-advised advertisements to former CBS Entertainment executive Whitney Davis’s recent revelations of a toxic workplace culture at the media giant. What Guerrero achieves with this particular show isn’t just a funny series of jabs at society; it’s a slice of entertainment where diverse and thoughtful people gather to connect their shared dots.

Funny and fascinating: (L to R) Setoiyo Ekpo, Adrian Rivera-Reyes, and Katonya Mosley. (Photo by Ralph Ferro.)
Funny and fascinating: (L to R) Setoiyo Ekpo, Adrian Rivera-Reyes, and Katonya Mosley. (Photo by Ralph Ferro.)

“One person who constantly creates memorable moments on this show is Katonya Mosley,” Guerrero says. “She speaks about race in a way that can silence a room. She knows how to hit the right notes to make sure everyone in the room is aware of their racial biases.”

From the audience for recent live recording at the Philly Improv Theater, it was fascinating to watch political candidates discuss Billy Porter’s Oscar tuxedo gown with local Philly entertainers. Both Rivera-Reyes and Serianni provided hilarious commentary peppered with policy ideas. Rivera-Reyes discussed how he wants to bring his healthcare background to City Council. Serianni discussed the harsh gauntlet that awaits female political candidates when they campaign. That is the core of what makes American Immigrant compelling: Guests invite the audience into their lived experience with striking honesty.

The courage to share

One thing that surprised Guerrero as the podcast grew is the hesitation some guests feel when it comes to sharing an episode online with friends and family. A podcast that deals primarily with immigration and current US policy can easily polarize listeners. “Fans feel that, while they like the show, it can be divisive and cause arguments on their social-media page,” Guerrero reveals. “It’s a hard thing for people to share.”

The simple act of sharing has proven to be the greatest strength of American Immigrant. By listening, we take the time to consider one another’s stories and expand our own perspectives.

All episodes of American Immigrant are available online. Follow Guerrero here for upcoming dates for live episode recordings. The 2019 Philadelphia municipal primary election is on Tuesday, May 21.

What, When, Where

All episodes of American Immigrant are available online.

Sign up for our newsletter

All of the week's new articles, all in one place. Sign up for the free weekly BSR newsletters, and don't miss a conversation.

Join the Conversation