Thai Rivera admits his comedy can sometimes make people uncomfortable, but in the best way possible.
His irreverent style earned him the World Series of Comedy crown in Las Vegas in September.
David Tribble, a promoter with Entertainment Solutions in Seattle, was in Vegas when Rivera won and couldn't wait to book him for Jokers Comedy Club in Richland.
"There's no question this kid is going places," said Tribble. "There were about 470 comics who entered the World Series of Comedy, but only the (funniest) 101 were allowed to compete. And Thai ended up taking first place."
The win earned Rivera a guaranteed 52 weeks of comedy gigs around the world, including a stop in the Tri-Cities.
He brings his politically incorrect humor to Jokers on Nov. 7-9.
Rivera, who says he is older than he looks but won't reveal his age, also was a little surprised he won the top prize in Vegas.
"There were so many funny comics competing in that event that when my name was announced the winner, I was totally surprised," he told the Herald in a phone interview.
His routine touches on everything from his ethnicity to gay pride.
"You must understand that I am a comic who happens to be gay, not a gay comic," he said. "And, I really like to perform in places where people are tougher to make laugh, like redneck clubs."
A Montana gig earlier this year is a prime example. The room was mostly "oversized, intimidating cowboy-type" guys who tend to frown on anyone who favors the gay persuasion, Rivera said.
"It's always been important to me to establish myself as a funny guy no matter where I'm at," he said. "After the show I was standing at the bar having a drink when a couple of those big boys walked over to me. I thought they might punch me. But after a moment of glaring, they both smiled and one said, 'I may not like the gay thing, but you are funny.' That made my day."
Rivera said he inherited his funnybone from his parents, particularly his mother.
"My mom is the funniest person I know," he said.
He adopted the stage name "Thai" because people were always asking if he's Asian.
"I do look a little Asian, even though I'm Chicano," he said. "So I decided to call myself 'Thai.' It's what everyone calls me now. Besides, even if I told you my real name, you wouldn't be able to pronounce it."
He originally is from Casa Grande, Ariz., but has lived chunks of his life in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
"I mention all of these cities because all of them have had a big part in shaping the person I am today," he said.
He has performed at the Hollywood Improve, Comedy Central's Live at Gotham and The Logo Network's One Night Stand Up. He also has performed for American troops in Austria and Greenland.
His show is definitely not for the sensitive, since it include coarse language and topics. But his irreverence stays in his comedy routine and doesn't stray to his family.
"I never curse at my parents," he said. "The colorful way I talk about stuff and how messed up we all are is by telling funny stories using bad language. So if you're sensitive about topics that touch on race or homosexuality, then don't come to one of my shows. But I am a very spiritual person too. I think humor helps heal the world from its ugliness a little bit."
Showtime is 8 p.m. Cover charge is $10 at the door.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal