Nuyorican comedian Mark Viera on his new HBO Latino comedy special and representing the Latinx community through humor.

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When HBO Latino was looking for the next big Latino comedy star, a friend convinced Mark Viera to enter the contest. “I won and got my opportunity to have my own special on HBO Latino,” the comedian, 46, tells People CHICA. The show, the latest in the network’s Entre Nos series, will be airing this summer. “I am puertorriqueño by way of the Bronx, New York, born and raised,” he adds proudly. “I started comedy on a whim. I was really tired of the day job that I had and said, ‘I have to do something else with my life because this job is so damn boring,'” he recalls, admitting he first dreamed of becoming a fire marshal and joining the New York fire department.

Life had other plans for Viera, who found his true passion in comedy. “The comedian has to stay on top of his game, the blade has to stay sharp,” he reflects. “I love comedy and it’s what I love to do, so I have to stay close to it. I call it my own beautiful obsession, to be funny.”

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On stage, he covers topics that hit close to home and represent his Latinidad. “I talk about my grandmother and the big influence she had on me. In the special, I also ask women if they are grandmothers to please stop posting provocative pictures on Instagram, because you guys are confusing us — because a real abuelita would never put up a picture like that. My grandmother was never sexy, you can’t be sexy in a bata. A house dress is just not sexy, there are no Victoria’s Secret batas,” he jokes. “I’m always able to bring my Latinisms. I love the fact that I’m able to express myself through my culture that way.”

He says his mission is to “tell the stories that aren’t being told.” Viera — who was also featured in the HA Comedy Festival this past weekend with renowned comedians like Aida Rodriguez and Gina Brillon — says platforms like Netflix are opening new doors for Latinx talents. “The other networks are starting to get with it,” he adds. “The Latin story has been absolutely overlooked over the last 20 years. Only two Latinos have ever led a sitcom, Freddie Prinze and George Lopez, and that whole tune is changing.”

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Comedy for Viera comes from the heart. “I talk about the things that mean the most. I talk about my kids, my life, my grandmother. My comedy is not just about the laughs, it’s about feelings. When I’m on stage, I’m at my freest,” he admits. “That’s what I reach for every time that I’m on stage, that point when I’m totally free in front of these people that I don’t know.”