Carlos Alazraqui '86  (Recreation & Leisure Studies)

Voice virtuoso

Carlos Alazraqui

Though you may not know it, you’ve probably imitated alum and chameleon actor/comedian Carlos Alazraqui.

Since creating one of the most recognized voices in advertising—the Taco Bell Chihuahua—Alazraqui has portrayed countless on-screen and off-screen television, movie and advertising characters.

He starred as Dep. James Garcia on Comedy Central’s “Reno 911” and the show’s movie spin-off, Reno 911 Miami. He worked alongside Robin Williams as Nestor, one of the “Adelie Amigos” penguins, in the animated Oscar-winner Happy Feet and its sequel.

Alazraqui’s career began when Sac State Recreation Professor Ernie Olson encouraged him to follow the sound of his voice rather than the lure of the outdoors.

“He recognized I could imitate people and do voices and he said to me ‘You should try do to do comedy,’ and off I went,” Alazraqui says.

After winning two local comedy awards, Alazraqui pursued stand up in San Francisco.

While honing his new craft, four little words: “Yo quiero Taco Bell,” would carry him into television history and ignite his acting career.

Since then he has appeared in a variety of television shows from “Lizzie McGuire” and “Las Vegas” to “That ‘70s Show” and “Men Behaving Badly.” His voice-over talents range from creating Nickelodeon’s Rocko of “Rocko’s Modern Life” and the Cartoon Network’s Lazlo in the “Camp Lazlo” series. He’s heard regularly on Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants,” PBS’ “Maya and Miguel,” and Disney Channel’s “Handy Manny.”

Alazraqui credits his acting versatility to growing up in a diverse Concord neighborhood with his Argentinean-born parents and many internationally influenced friends.

“We were never limited by anything in terms of culture,” he says of watching British television and following international soccer.

Alazraqui based Dep. Garcia’s racially ambiguous and insecure persona on a Caucasian childhood friend with a Latino surname and television’s iconic bumbling deputy, Barney Fife. “Inside Garcia is really a scared and lonely man but on the outside he has a tough exterior,” he says. “He’s a likable jerk. You kind of feel sorry for him in the end.”

Alazraqui hasn’t lost his interest in outdoor exhilaration. A fanatical skydiver, he’s made 690 jumps. He jokes that he’d like to one day “jump off a fjord in Norway.”

But that’s not all he dreams of.

“The epitome for me,” he says laughing, “would be to have a kissing scene with Diane Lane.”

This article was originally published in the Summer 2007 edition of Sac State Magazine.