Liberal Studies, BA
Prolific writer. Accomplished actor and filmmaker. Emmy-award-winner.
It’s hard to summarize Neil Garguilo’s work in any neat and organized way, but such is often the case with creative genius. Today, he is best known for using humor to call out systemic inequality and stereotypes in entertainment.
A showrunner for the TV series MOCKpocalpyse, founding member of the improv comedy group Dr. God (behind the 2015 horror-comedy Bloodsucking Bastards), Garguilo is also co-creator, showrunner, and star of the Syfy series Hell Den, a dystopian social satire which combines original animation with old, live-action and re-dubbed clips, and provides the audience with an opportunity to directly consider how messages that foster prejudice can live on through generations.
One of his proudest accomplishments is his Funny or Die series, Brainwashed by Toons. For this, he co-wrote songs about the normalization of bigotry and sexism over the past century, resulting in a 2020 Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Original Song and a nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Special Class Series.
For Garguilo, the work is personal.
“I am of Puerto Rican and Italian descent, and in my life, I’ve been in rooms where people didn’t realize my Hispanic background, and they’ve said some very ignorant stuff that comes from a very bad place,” Garguilo said.
Originally from central New Jersey, Garguilo knew from a very young age that he wanted to work in entertainment. As a young boy, he was obsessed with SNL and Comedy Central, but didn’t really know the specific path to follow, so—like a true student of the liberal arts—he immersed himself in everything he could.
The first on his father’s side of the family to go to college, and second-generation on his mother’s, Garguilo’s undergraduate years were formative.
“[College] molded me most by providing a better understanding of what I can achieve,” Garguilo said.
As a student at Pace, he performed standup as a side gig at the New York Comedy Club, and, in 2003, discovered the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, an alternative comedy troupe in New York City that incubated the talent of many of today’s well-known stars, including those made famous on SNL. It was here that he fell in love with improv, and has been performing in this genre, as well as sketch comedy, in the Los Angeles comedy scene for more than fifteen years.
When asked if he has any future projects up his sleeve, Garguilo, of course, said “tons.”
“If you’re a show creator or feature film writer, you need to constantly be developing. Between feature film, scripted television, and alternative television, I currently have thirteen shows pitching and dozens on my development slate,” Garguilo said. “There are a few exciting things coming up in 2021, but I’ll be assassinated if I speak about them publicly, and being assassinated really puts the brakes on development!”
What is certain, is that one of Garguilo’s goals as he moves forward in his work is to continue his efforts to normalize new messages that serve to tear down stereotypes and promote diversity and equity.
In offering advice for students, he said, “Take advantage of your internships. Also, take an improv class!”