Ben's Workshop: George Lopez and the Hydration Station
It's not often that the Scotsman Co. Woodshop is filled with comedians other than Ben and Randy, but this week, there was a comedy superstar that graced the sawdust-covered floors— George Lopez.
George Lopez is legendary in his multi-faceted career that encompasses television, film, stand-up comedy, and late-night television. Most know him for the way he makes millions laugh, but a lesser-known fact about George is his love for rescuing animals.
Ben said, "He's a huge supporter of animal rescue, so when I heard that, I thought let's build something for the dogs at the Animal Rescue League here in Laurel. It'll be a centerpiece that will draw people back to the rescue and something that says George Lopez was here."
Ben and George set out to build a "hydration station" or super dog bowl for the Laurel Animal Rescue League. Using California Redwood and Mississippi Pine, this build will inspire others to "Adopt, Don't Shop."
George was greeted in the Woodshop and shared his one experience with woodworking before they got started.
George said, "I wanted to be an architect in high school, and during this one semester, we got to do schematics. All of my doors opened the wrong way in the bathroom, there was no shower, and everything was misaligned. I thought, at least I have a future in comedy because this wasn't going to work."
Ben and George began their project by starting with the basics. They chose their Redwood and Pine and began to cut an intricate pattern that resembles a pinwheel for the bottom of the bowl.
George shared, "What makes me a good stand-up comedian is that I'm able to disengage from the nerves. You develop a wall of emotions and rescuing the dogs has made me find my heart in life. You treat them good, and they love you forever."
George has rescued almost 25 dogs and said he enjoys saving the unwanted dogs the most. He finds joy in rescuing them because their companionship has rescued him during hard times.
George has faced his fair share of challenging circumstances during life but finds that each setback has pushed him to work harder. In fact, he was a talented baseball player during his high school years and received a letter from the Cincinnati Reds. His varsity coach was tough on him and challenged him to grow.
"My coach said, 'I'd like to see where you are in 10 to 20 years because you're a quitter. Let's see how far a quitter can get in life.' He gave me the spark of truth that I needed to build my life on. Years later, I donated to the same baseball field that I played on in high school, and they named the field after me. They won two championships, and I bought those kids championship rings."
That wasn't the only time when George faced challenges during his childhood. His grandmother, also his primary caretaker, was stern with him and even a "little mean," as he would say.
He said, "My grandmother was pretty hard on me, man. We didn't have a lot, you know? I wouldn't have had a show if I couldn't talk about my grandmother, who became the mother character. As tough as they were, those stories of my childhood were real. I didn't know that those tough summers and holidays were kind of building my future. I think I gravitated towards comedy instead of being hurt."
He continued, "I was taken in by my friends, and I'm still friends with those guys. When I was 14, we would go to Hollywood every morning, and we'd go to the Walk of Fame. I would see George Burns's star and imagine my name there. On the day of the 100th episode of my show, I got a star on the Walk of Fame. When I looked to my right, they were all there."
It was an emotional moment in the Woodshop and sawdust may or may not have stirred in the air, causing a few tears. It wasn't long before George was making the team laugh once again. His shows had a light-hearted and realistic relationship with his audience because of those experiences, and he claims that was his entire approach to comedy.
George described his grandmother and his life as a Latino man being his inspiration for most of his work. He said, "She was just kind of a little bit mean. I wasn't a bad kid; she just wasn't really into compliments, or asking about how you were or how school was because she was always working. I lived in solitude, which became the fabric of what I built my career. She didn't prepare me for life being good. She prepared me for life being bad, so nothing bothered me. When things got good, I could handle it. But when things got bad, I could handle that, too."
Things did get good for George when he discovered his love for comedy during July of 1979. He performed his first comedy stand-up routine at the Comedy Store, the same studio where Sarah Silverman, Whoopie Goldberg, and many others began their careers. When the audience started laughing, he was hooked.
He said, "I just decided I was going to work harder than everybody else. I was going to work while people were sleeping. I was still scared to death every time I was going to perform."
Over the next twenty years, George would perform on the Comedy Club, The Arsenio Hall Show, film multiple movies, and perform on The Tonight Show. In 2000, he met Sandra Bullock, and she wanted to produce his comedy show about a Latino family. They soon partnered to create this new sitcom, and they made television history with the George Lopez show.
They covered the dog bowl in fiberglass and epoxy to seal it from water and weather damage, loaded it up, and headed to the Laurel Animal Rescue League.
Ben said, "The Animal Rescue League has been around forever. Erin grew up getting her pets from there. Alicia runs the Rescue League, and she is extremely passionate about helping these animals."
It was a special event for George, the organization, and all the happily residing animals. Ben said, "George will forever be remembered for the time that he built the huge hydration station for the Animal Rescue League, and he'll be remembered for giving this incredible gift to our town."
We're so thankful for George and his love for giving back to the Laurel community. Be sure to stop by the Scotsman General Store and Woodshop to see what Ben makes next and watch new episodes of Ben's Workshop on Discovery+ now!