1. What made you want to become a comedian?
I am not sure what actually made me want to become a comedian. It was sort of a natural progression. It seemed since I moved a lot as a kid and I was always the shortest kid in the class, that I learned to use comedy as a way to protect myself and introduce myself to new situations. I turned to comedy a lot. So, I kind of studied comedy. I would watch classic comedy and comedians and then before I knew it, I was doing it. I still remember my first house laugh as a Christmas elf when I improvised with the script and threw a bucket of water at my teacher while in elementary school. That house laugh inspired me.
2. What are the advantages to living in Los Angeles for a comedian?
Comedy clubs aren’t as popular as they once were. But, considering the size of LA, there are quite a few comedy stores still around just due to the fact the size of the city means there are enough comedians to support it.
We also have the benefit of the possibility of a casting director, or producer, or whomever, catching your act and deciding to take you to the next level.
That rarely happens in Cincinnati, or some city not so attached to show biz.
3. What are some of the disadvantages?
The disadvantages here are pretty much the same disadvantages as anywhere. One could say there is a lot of competition, but there is also a disadvantage to being in an area where there is no competition. Big fish small pond syndrome. There are a lot of people that take advantage of comedians, but that too can happen anywhere.
4. What makes someone funny?
Any number of things can make someone funny. I think a more important question is, what makes you laugh.
Personally, I will always laugh at a performer that is dying on stage. It’s real. And, it’s uncomfortable. Seeing that emotional state is real and real is usually a great deal more amusing than a scripted bit. Maybe I have seen too much comedy and am no longer surprised. I have had contests on stage to see if I could guess the punch line after being given the set-up and I guess I do pretty well. So, knowing a lot of jokes, or set ups doesn’t make someone funny. What I find amusing isn’t a universal. So, what I think makes someone funny is not likely what someone else finds funny in someone. There are hugely popular movies that I can’t stand due to the sophomoric humor. I don’t particularly find blue comedy funny. But, I cant deny the success of comedians that work that way. So, maybe that is what makes someone funny.
5. Who are some of your influences?
I go old school. I remember cracking up at Harpo Marx. Harold Lloyd. I would love seeing Victor Borge. Bob Newhart. Older Bill Cosby. George Carlin before he became so political. I find that people that show anger onstage in regards to politics, like my hero David Letterman, ruin it a bit. But, our job as a jester is to be the one to point out that the emperor is naked. So, once again it’s a matter of taste.
I could go on and on about my original influences. As a variety performer I loved Carl Ballantine, Jay Johnson, The Flying Bros Karamazovs and on and on.
6. Tell me a joke about bloggers.
So, out of curiosity, I googled ‘jokes about bloggers.’ Wow. There really are no funny jokes about bloggers.
I’ve got nothing either.
7. What is your weirdest Hollywood story?
One of the first auditions turned out to be for a pervert who is, to my knowledge, sitting in jail for taking inappropriate pictures of underage boys.
I went into the audition. He wanted me to juggle. He then asked if I knew a lot of tricks with balls. It started to get odd when he asked me to sit on the couch with him and he would get me a SAG card if he did. I walked out. Before I left, I walked up to the secretary and asked if she was aware of the kind of auditions he was putting on. She stared at me and said, you think that’s bad, you should audition for his partner.
I was too stunned to do or say anything else. I walked out. I was thrilled when I saw his name in the paper for illegal activities years later.
8. What stand up comedy trends annoy you?
It’s kind of pointless to get annoyed. It won’t stop them. They will stop if the audience doesn’t buy into them. But, it is interesting to see the trend of televised comedy. If you go back twenty years, you can watch Candid Camera and see Allen Funt having fun throwing people into odd situations than appearing and saying, smile. Nowadays, we have movies that make millions by hurting people and being disgusting. Like I said, it’s pointless to be disgusted or annoyed, but it doesn’t speak to highly as to where our comic sentiment and senses have turned as a society.
9. What makes you fame-worthy?
Determination. Longevity. A sense of what makes my audience laugh. And desire. Yes, I still desire fame, which is really a ridiculous goal. Can you pass my name along to the gatekeepers, please?
10. If you could ask Lenny Bruce one question, what would it be?
What’s a funny joke about bloggers ?
And, if I were allowed a second question.. I would ask if I could have dinner with him. He was cutting edge. And now, somewhat tame in comparison. But anyone that blazes a trail is to be respected. But, I would rather enjoy getting to know him than ask him questions about the career or choices. My guess is he wouldn’t really be the type to answer sincerely anyway.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)