Meet Andrew Rosas, New Host of “The Hook”

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When The Hook returns on February 2, the man behind the desk will have a different face and name. Sort of.

Andrew Rosas, ’05, may look a bit like the witty weekly web news show’s previous host Andrew Roush, BA ’11, Life Member, and his name may be conspicuously similar, but the writer and performer—whose other gig is hosting the Alamo Drafthouse’s Master Pancake Theater, a popular comedy-cinema mashup—is approaching the show’s format from a new angle.

The Alcalde spoke with Rosas about his comedy upbringing, his magical hairdo, and fighting a CGI bear.

The Alcalde: What’s your deal?

Andrew Rosas: I’m a comedian, first and foremost. I’m from San Antonio, where I went to a magnet arts high school for film. I started in comedy in high school making silly short films with my friends. Then I came to college, and I kept making short films and acting, then I joined a sketch comedy troupe called Stag Comedy. I did that for about six years. It was really great, I got to travel all over the country doing festivals. That came to an end in late 2015. Two or three years into doing that I started working with Master Pancake. It’s a dream come true.

That job sounds perfect for someone who needs to interject during every movie.

I’ve made a living off what people do with their friends at home: watching movies and cracking jokes. It’s the best.

What’s your position there?

I’m a writer/performer. Nine out of 12 months I’m working on a show. Just in case you didn’t know how many months were in a year, I had to say “12.” I’m totally a human, not an alien. It’s a blast. We just sit down, put on a movie, and get a tape recorder going.

How much is written versus improvised onstage?

For a run of shows, it is 95 percent written. We polish it and hone it down [snaps fingers] … we want it to be airtight. We leave a little room in there for riffing and improving—about 5-10 percent is chaos. The first weekend, we’ll be a little looser, and by the last weekend, it’s …

You’ve memorized Titanic at this point.

Oh completely. I’ve seen some really awful movies more times than some of my favorites because we do three, sometimes four weekends a month.

Which movie is your favorite to do?

50 Shades of Gray is wall-to-wall jokes. There’s no dead air, because the movie is terrible.

The worse the movie, the better it is to mock?

Sometimes.

Or maybe the more earnest it tries to be?

Precisely. We do Jurassic Park and I love that movie, but it’s a hilarious mock. There’s a special recipe. It’s not always the crappiest movie you can find. More than anything, it can’t be boring.  Some of my personal favorites are Twister and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I. That was the first show I ever performed.

It holds a special place in your heart.

It does. Also one of the reasons I love my job is that everybody in it is so funny. It’s a blast to go to work. People ask, “Do you ever get tired of watching that movie 20 times?” Honestly, if people laugh, it’s fun.

You’re addicted to the laughter.

Oh, completely. It’s kind of a joke … but not really.

Shifting gears here. Who wins at the end of Titanic?

The iceberg. Team iceberg.

You forgot to say “spoiler alert.”

What’s the statue of limitations on disasters that are 100 years old?

Fair enough. Give me the secret to your magical hair. It defies gravity.

Take your vitamins, all of them. It’s not effortless. Get yourself a good matte-finish beeswax paste that is high hold. And don’t be afraid of a blowdryer.

Unless you’re in a bathtub.

Exactly.

What attracted you to the Hook format?

A couple things. I was attracted to the challenge of writing something week-to-week. That’s a fun challenge. You have to get a new story and write all new copy for it and inject some humor and life into it. It’s a news show, so I’m not just doing a monologue of jokes. There are the conventions of the news show—The Daily Show, The Colbert Report—we all understand that it’s a guy behind a desk telling us what’s happening. One of my favorite things those shows do is play off those conventions. How can we make this funny?

It is a show for the university, so it can’t be all jokes. It’s a fun and unique challenge—it’s got to be in service of the university and the alumni and be funny. Limitations breed creativity in a really fun way.

And you don’t get to make fun of 50 Shades of Gray.

Exactly.

There’s no S&M jokes to be had.

None whatsoever. Yet. Maybe somebody in the plastics sciences department will be making new polymers for sex toys, and then we will be reporting on that.

One of the things I want to do with the show is let people know about what’s going on at the university. We’re not looking to punch out … we’re not looking to punch anything, really. Where does the humor go?

Every episode starts with a video sketch. That’s my background, I did that for many years. It’s good to stretch those muscles again. To be exigent and on-topic and short; that’s its own unique challenge. A lot of the humor in this show comes from poking fun at the conventions on a news show, at the guy behind the desk … that it’s me behind the desk. And it’s a little self-deprecating.

It almost has to be self-deprecating because the sorts of stories you’re reporting on a lot of times deal with genius students and professors doing incredible things.

Yeah, it’s like, “I’m a dummy, please tell me about this.” In some sense, I am an avatar for the audience. Some of the humor comes from that. What I love about it is it’s a little Looney Tunes. There’s some bizarre visual gags and some wordplay. That’s kind of my brand.

I see some Simpsons stuff in there visually too.

100 percent. The Simpsons is my favorite show of all time. It’s the funniest thing humans will ever make. A lot of their stuff can be traced back to the flexible reality of Looney Tunes. If you’re making things a bit sillier, more visual, that’s what I’m about. I love writing jokes and telling jokes, but with a show like this, it has given me an opportunity to tell jokes in a variety of ways.

Your name is suspiciously similar to the Hook’s previous host, Andrew Roush.

It’s creepily similar. I think we have two letters different in our last names.

Are you really him? Did you fake Roush’s death and then just change two letters in his name?

[Laughs.] Yes, when I was filling out the application, muscle memory started writing “Andrew Roush,” and I just finished it. It’s creepy, right? We’re both bearded white guys, just about 6 feet tall. People won’t even know. They’ll say, “Oh, his beard got a little redder.”

How will your version of the Hook be similar and different?

I’ve watched a ton of those episodes. It’s really good. I really like cinematic homages—going back to The Simpsons—and Roush would open his episodes with clips that had to do with the topic. “Here’s something you’re familiar with, now come inside, get comfortable.” He had a wit and a way with words. I’d say that’s still pretty present hopefully. I’m trying to keep it pretty sharp. It’s different in that I’m approaching the show from a comedy background. If you can connect with an audience with a laugh, they will be more receptive to whatever information you give them.

It’s like a spoonful of sugar with your medicine.

It really is. I think humor is one of the most powerful emotional connections you can make with somebody. It’s a very powerful tool.

There are a lot more gags now. We’re opening ours with a sketch, an original concept. My goal is to make people laugh—a laugh is the shortest distance between two people.

What’s a dream piece of research or some event that you’d like to cover for the Hook?

High-end virtual reality would be a really cool story. Also there’s stuff going on on campus like campus carry. That would be really fun to report on and talk about seriously. It would be a difficult one. But it would be fun to do because it would be such a challenge, to make it funny without making fun of people on either side of the issue. I’m attracted to that because of its delicacy.

We got heavy at the end there. Let’s finish light. Who would win in a fight, you or the bear from The Revenant?

Definitely the bear, because he’s CGI. I can’t compete with that. I’m only flesh and blood. If it was a real bear, me 100 percent. I’ve got better hair.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

 

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