The multi-talented performer traveled all the way from San Francisco to put on a quick show for the office, compressing some of her best jokes and impressions into a digestible 10-minute format. Acuna opened her act with a mesmerising flamenco dance that had me wishing I took my dance classes more seriously in middle school. Raised by a seasoned flamenco dancer (Carole’s mother is professional dancer Carolina Lugo), Acuna set her sights on the San Francisco Comedy College after realizing her talents as a physical comedian.
“I just knew that I wanted to do it”, Acuna reflects. “I was literally trained how to tell a joke, and that’s a good structure to come from.” However, Acuna notes that going to school for comedy isn’t imperative to having a successful stand-up career and considers her time spent watching other comedians at comedy clubs equally as valuable as studying in an academic setting.
What makes Acuna stand out is her use of dance in her stand-up acts. Acuna’s style of comedy parallels the likes of Cheri Oteri, Molly Shannon, and the late Chris Farley, which is pretty rare considering the dry, sarcastic humor that seems to pilot the comedy circuit these days. “I’m a Meisner actor,” Acuna says, referring to the technique of acting developed by Sanford Meisner, in which an actor focuses on the actor opposite of them, rather than their own internal feelings. “It helps with stand-up comedy because you can read other people and what they’re doing.”
Though Acuna is now established enough to make a living doing comedy, she notes that the road to success wasn’t easy. “It was tons of work,” she says. “It’s like wearing all these different hats. The artistic hat, the promotional hat…I even get ideas in my sleep!” Acuna’s “hustler” mentality and work ethic is commendable, especially in a time of YouTubers and social media influencers, who literally get paid to post Instagram ads promoting weight loss teas and cheap clothing. “You just have to be so creative and innovative,” she says. “Just keep asking questions and networking with people.”
The Woman Behind the Act
Off stage, Acuna’s demeanor is laidback and gracious. She stuck around after her set and chatted with us over a lunch of pizza and chocolate chip cookies, and seemed genuinely interested in our NEPA culture (at one point I caught the tail end of a conversation about “heynabonics” between Acuna and one of the staffers!). During lunch, we asked her even more questions and got to know a little bit more about her on personal level. She talked about her love for hiking, meditating, and narwhals! “They’re beluga whales with a large tusk going through their upper lip,” Acuna explains. “So they’re basically real unicorns, which is why I love them!” In a way, Acuna could be thought of as a unicorn in the comedy scene: Talented and passionate with an unwillingness to give up.
Currently, Acuna is working on a one-woman show that’s set to premier in two years, and also a web series that can be found on her website, caroleacuna.com.
Acuna is just one of the many performers that will be appearing on the Special Guest demo stage in the upcoming months. You can find other comedians like Acuna, as well as various other performers, on the Special Guest App.