Comedy might have saved Felipe Esparza’s life. The winner of the 2010 season of Last Comic Standing was in rehab when he found the resolve to pursue his lifelong ambition of becoming a stand-up comic, and having that focus helped him turn his life around. Since then, he’s made that dream a reality, from touring the country to making major TV appearances.

His first HBO special, Translate This, premiered last year, and he’s developing a comedic travel series that will explore areas along the U.S.-Mexico border. That area means a lot to Esparza, who was born in Mexico and grew up in L.A., and who has performed regularly on Spanish-language TV. In 2010, he starred in the movie I’m Not Like That No More, which was inspired by his comedy about his extended Mexican-American family, and co-starred his mentor Paul Rodriguez as his father.

Esparza’s comedy is all about bridging gaps, talking openly about his troubled early days and the struggles of his immigrant family in a way that connects to audiences from all backgrounds. Comedy might have saved his life, and he’s made the most of that opportunity.

Hard Rock Hotel, 9 p.m. Sept. 14, starting at $39.50 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849 AXS