Comedy can be a risky business and Dina Nina Martinez knows that all too well. Originally from Texas, Martinez along with her dog Gurdy arrived in Madison via Los Angeles. Not the most logical path to stardom but it seems to be working for Martinez.
Wisconsin has given her lots of fodder to be funny. You only have to hear her routine to understand why. “I’m plus size. I guess I’m normal sized in Wisconsin,” she says. The crowd seems to enjoy her self-deprecating humor. Martinez says, “It’s taught me more about myself, and taught me how to love myself more, and then it’s taught me the power of humor.” When Martinez moved to Madison, she says she found so much love, so much acceptance and lots of food. “I tell people after moving to Wisconsin, forget the freshman 15. It’s the Wisconsin 45.”
Lady Laughs Comedy is her brand and she uses it to empower and inspire. Martinez says, in life, we go through heartache and tragedy. And then there’s got to be some levity at some point that changes that and gives you different momentum. Comedy became therapy for what Martinez has been through in life. “When I started comedy, I almost didn’t talk about the transgender experience because I had so many people who’d be like, ‘What? I’m confused?’ As a trans person, it’s important for me to be visible and open, because that makes it better for everyone. I wasn’t born in the wrong body; I was just born to become something greater, or something different, or someone new.”
Transgender and visible also means vulnerable and Martinez admits when she first started comedy, it was scary. She put it all out there with the idea that if she talks about her life experiences first, nobody has anything on her. She sees that as “power.” That power propelled Martinez to take her career and her life in a new direction. “When I moved to the Midwest, I didn’t know what to expect, ” she says. What she found was a warmth and camaraderie with women that she had never experienced before. Humor is what gets her noticed. Her message is what resonates with women. “My issues with my body are just like any other woman. Like, we tend to not like our inner thighs.” That connection to womanhood is reflected in her comedy. “I feel like my inner thighs are like two kids on a long road trip, you know. Mom, she’s touching me. Stay on your side. She’s touching me.”
Martinez admits many people told her she’d never make it in the industry. That she was, “too old, too fat, and too trans, not trans enough.” By not giving up, Martinez has been named one of the hottest queer women in comedy and as an actress, she has been cast in her first major motion picture called , “Two Men and a Pig” alongside Dermot Mulroney of “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”
In the spotlight, Martinez has found her voice in what she describes as an amazing journey. She admits, “just being a person is hard. Being a queer person is even harder. I like myself, I think, for the first time in my life.” And her advice for others who are questioning their identity, “Live your truth as best as you can, and as hard as you can, and as soon as you can. I want you to know that it’s possible to have a complete and amazing full life.”