alibi online
2017 Best of Burque Music2017 Best of BurqueFree Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 V.23 No.36 | September 4 - 10, 2014 


Laughing with Gangstas

Connecting to gang youth through humor

Rusty Rutherford
Eric Williams
Rusty Rutherford

Comedy heals in unexpected ways. It breaks through our hard inner core in means that can’t be articulated. Local comedian Rusty Rutherford has been working with humor as a form of therapy with Youth Development Inc. for the past eight years. Sadly, his program is shutting down, but he’s using his TEDxABQ talk to shed some light on his efforts and as a call to action in the community.

How did you get into comedy?

I’ve been working with these kids for eight years, and I see what comedy does. I want people to think how they can inject more humor in their life and also to look at gang youth in a different light. Be quicker to help and not judge.

My first experience with comedy was my sophomore year of high school. My buddy and I did a public access hidden-camera show called “Don’t Watch This.” We did this ridiculous rubber mallet bit, and we were going to film ourselves getting kicked out of auditions for a talent show. But instead we got picked to do the show, so we did it, and the school ate it up. It was the biggest high I had ever had, at least without drugs.

The first time I remember seeing you was at the Reptilian Lounge doing a piece called “How to Pick Up Chicks.” When did you start doing stand-up?

I did my first open mic at Chelsea’s Street Pub in Coronado Mall when I was 16. I basically did what I thought stand-up was, and it was horrible, but I kept at it. At first I did characters, like Rusta Rhymes, a white rapper from the Northeast Heights. Then I moved to Chicago to do comedy there. I was broke, couldn’t get a job and [was] depressed, but I learned so much about comedy. When I came back to Albuquerque, I started doing just straight stand-up. No character, just me. I was terrified, but it was so much better.

So would you say that’s when you started to really dig stand-up and look at it differently?

Yeah, definitely. It’s hard being vulnerable onstage, but it’s much better than characters. The highs are higher. Then I began working at YDI. The first kid I clicked with was through humor. I was able to open these kids up through comedy. I taught stand-up to kids, and it was great.

Why present at TEDxABQ, and what do you hope people will take away from your talk?

My talk is titled “Laughing with Gangstas.” I’ve been working with these kids for eight years, and I see what comedy does. I want people to think how they can inject more humor in their life and also to look at gang youth in a different light. Be quicker to help and not judge.

Now that your YDI program is shutting down, what do you plan to do?

I’m about to start my own program called Duke City Dream Lab. It’s an open recording studio where for every hour an adult pays for, we give an hour to teens. These kids who used the program and our resources now really have nowhere to go, so I’m finding a place for them.


Popejoy Hall
203 Cornell NE
10am to 4:30pm
Tickets: $65 general or $25 for students

Check for tickets and other information.

Today's Events

Our Glass Figures at Cell Theatre

Katie Farmin, Jasmine Bernard, Haley Henson, Liviana Rodriguez, Juliana Myers, Somah Haaland, Rhiannon Frazier, Eboni Thompson
Kim Carlozzi

Performance of a study on gender, sexuality, intersectionality, oppression and empowerment, the political as personal and the personal as political.

Coffee Tasting 101 at Red Rock Roasters

Dragon and Tiger Medical Qigong at Open Space Visitor Center

More Recommended Events ››

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
    Kombat Kitty @ Stoneface
    Kombat Kitty @ Stoneface3.4.2017