Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

    

"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Comedian (30)

Wednesday
Aug162017

Call Answered: Ralph Sutton: Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll

Ralph SuttonWhenever I listen to the radio or in today's world, podcasts, I think of Nicki French's song "Voice of America," which celebrates the power of radio. I have been part of both mediums throughout my career. In college I hosted my own '50s/'60s & '80s/'90s radio show. Then I interned at WPLJ in NYC. More recently, I've been interviewed for Rep Radio's podcast and hosted my own radio show It's Showtime with Call Me Adam on YTP Radio. I love it all!

Needless to say when I found out about Ralph Sutton & Big Jay Oakerson's podcast Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll, I was eager to find out more about it. I called and Ralph answered! I had a great time learning about Ralph's rise in radio, his partnering with Big Jay Oakerson, the birth of Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll, plus memorable guests and unanswered questions.

Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll airs every Monday at 9pm! Listen on iTunes, Soundcloud, and at http://www.thesdrshow.com! Follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

On August 21, Ralph and Big Jay will welcome comedian and "Mooch" impersonator Mario Cantone! 

1. Who or what inspired you to become a radio/TV host? When my testicles dropped, and my voice went deep – I was told daily that I had a voice for radio, and even did a little stint on my college radio station but kind of walked away from it – then about 20 years ago – while I was a strip-club DJ – Howard Stern was talking about how to pick up strippers, and I called in to talk about it. Miraculously, I got through on my first try (and it was my first time every calling into a talk show), we had about a 2-minute call – it was a great call. They didn’t make fun of me after, it was quick and funny then then all that week people were calling me, asking if that was me on Howard Stern. It was that call that made me want to finally give radio a real try.

2. How did you and Big Jay Oakerson come to create your digital comedy show, Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll? I had been hosting this rock music cruise called Shiprocked – and they asked me if I knew any comedians that would work on the cruise…I suggested Jay – even though he and I were casual acquaintances at the time, I was aware of how funny he was, and how great he’d be for the cruise. They ended up having us host a bunch of events together, and all we did was make each other laugh the entire time. He then suggested we do a podcast together. My uneducated answer at the time was "Podcasts are for people who can’t do radio, and I already have a nationally syndicated rock radio show!" but over the next few months I kept reading about podcasting and how big it was getting. I told him about 5-6 months later that I was down to do it. He said - we need a name/concept/etc. I had the logo, website, and theme already picked out – for a morning show I was going to do – that never transpired…so I just sent him the logo, and he said "done!"

Ralph Sutton interviewing KISS co-founder Gene Simmons on "Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll"3. Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll is a no-apologies, not politically correct, not for the faint of heart show that blends the classic energy of a morning radio show into the new era of digital entertainment. If you were to apply this description to your life, what do you feel has been the most shocking thing you have done that made you go, "I can't believe I just said or did that, and while I should feel bad about it, I'm living my life like my show, so fuck it."? Well the funny thing is of the S, D & R of the show, I am very light on the D. But I feel I make up for it with the S and the R. I also think shocking is such a relative term, what one person finds shocking, someone else finds common-place.   In the last few years since the show began, I have done things I probably wouldn’t have done, had it not been for the show. I also stay on bad dates longer because they might lead to good stories for the show!

For me – because my experience with drugs was so minor – doing mushrooms live on the show was a real bizarre experience for me. I remember drooling – and that’s about it. I also had a minor blackout on the show once too, which was not a fun thing at all. The best part of that story though was that my mom – who is a big supporter of anything I do, and always shares everything I post – shared the clip of me having a blackout on the air…and then was inundated with friends asking her "why the hell would you share a clip of your son having a blackout!"

4. What has been the best part about creating this show and what is the most challenging? The best part has been the difference a podcast listener and a radio listener. Podcast listeners are active listeners. Far more engaged than an average radio listener. I would rather have 1,000 podcast listeners than 10,000 radio listeners. Podcast listeners have launched an app, searched you out, and pressed play. They WANT to listen to you. Radio – usually is just on in the background, in the car, etc. I have been floored by the interaction we get from the show.

The most challenging is booking it! We do it live Monday nights in the East Village…so it’s been difficult finding people to come to my home studio 9pm at night.

"Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll" party5. You recently celebrated the three-year anniversary of Sex Drugs & Rock & Roll. What was the best part of this milestone? In looking back, what is something you can't believe happened that you had initially only hoped for? It really is amazing to me at this point. I spend days trying to come up with ridiculous ideas, and then see if we can make it happen. An idea that I had for three years, that we finally got done, and it ended up being the most listened to episode ever, was the "Oralympics." Where we got a $1000 escort and a $200 escort to donate their services for science. We were both blindfolded and then had to decide was it worth spending the extra $800 – if you want to know the answer, you’ll have to listen to the episode.

6. I love the fact that you tape these podcasts live right here in NYC. Why did you want to have a live audience for your tapings as opposed to doing these interviews in a closed-studio? What has been the craziest thing to happen during a taping? We do the show live in my home studio – and about once a month we do a live event somewhere – in front of an audience. Perhaps the most fun in recent memory was our Family Feud 3-year anniversary party. Sal Vulcano from Impractial Jokers, Corey Glover, the singer of Living Colour, Michael Alig, the subject of the movie Party Monster, and a few porn stars and burlesque performers like Payton Sin Claire showed up. It was just so much fun. After the live broadcast of the show – everyone just hung out. Sal DJ’d until 3am, I saw various guests go into the bathroom with various guests, I saw one of the interns make out with a porn star in the middle of the room, it was just decadence and debauchery at its finest.

7. Can you recall any questions that stumped a guest? If so, what was the question and who was the guest? In general, we try to have a relaxed vibe in the studio – the guest usually shows up about 30 minutes before – we offer drinks, we are very casual – I am not looking to bring a guest to tears. The one time it got dicey was when Mina Caputo from the band "Life of Agony" was in studio. She’s transitioning from Keith to Mina – and it was a sensitive subject for her (understandably), and while we’ve had a few transgendered guests on the show – they were usually porn stars who already fully made the transition, and were more comfortable with the general questions that might come up on our show.  And I didn’t’ think Mina was ready for how open Jay can be about it – neither of us are remotely phobic about anyone’s identity, but we do talk relatively openly. So I think she was a bit shocked…it did lead to a great discussion and openness about what she was going through and I think it was a great interview. But it was a bit touch-and-go in the beginning.

Big Jay Oakerson, Jennifer Esposito, and Ralph Sutton on "Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll"Mario Cantone as "The Mooch" on "The President Show"8. For this month's show, August 21, your special guest is the hilarious Mario Cantone. What are you looking forward to most about having Mario as your guest? Is there one thing specific you are hoping will happen with him on the show or a topic of discussion that will come up? This is a long time coming.  I've known Mario since I was about 10 or so…he’s like a brother to me, and I had a similar experience recently when Jennifer Esposito came on the show. It’s strange to interview someone you’ve known your entire life. I knew Jen since I was about 19, and Mario since before I had pubes. So it will probably end up being more of a trip down memory lane. Although I was so happy to see how everyone loved his "Mooch" impression. It was so good!

9. Who are some of your dream guests you'd still like to have on the show? Charlie Sheen, Axl Rose, Marilyn Manson. Charlie – because c’mon…he’s gotta have the most bonkers stories out there. Axl – because he is rock royalty. And Manson because not only is he Jay’s favorite, but he and I both dated the same girl...we’re wiener cousins! That’s gotta be something right?

10. As an interviewer yourself, what is one question I didn't ask that you wish I had? (please provide the answer to said question as well). The only question that doesn’t get asked enough is how does this crazy show affect your life directly?

It’s destroyed my dating life. I have to beg girls not to google me or look up my show. As I know if they base my persona on the show – I have no prayer of a 2nd date. My mom puts it best "It’s what he does, it’s not who he is." I will pretty much do anything – if I think it will be better for the show. When we first started, I wanted to do something that I knew would get listeners. Calling a show Sex Drugs & Rock n Roll was the answer to that…and I think I have only said no once on the show to some idea that came up. I want this show to be the inner voice that pushes back against all the crazy SJW stuff, and political correctness that is going on in the world right now. It’s ok to be ridiculous – if you are not doing it from an evil place. It’s OK to laugh at others, as long as you are also willing to laugh at yourself. It’s OK to do things for nothing other than pure enjoyment. Even if you end up blacking out in the process :)

Ralph SuttonMore on Ralph:

Ralph Sutton is a long-time veteran of television & radio with his own built-in international fan base. for nearly two decades – Ralph hosted – The Tour Bus, a nationally broadcast rock radio show that was syndicated in 50 markets across the nation and re-broadcast worldwide on the Internet. The show boasted over one million listeners nationwide. In 2016 Ralph launched the GaS Digital Network - with 11 shows and 750,000 listeners a week network wide.

Monday
Jul102017

Call Redialed: Lucie Pohl: "Hi, Hitler" (NEW version) at The Cherry Lane Theatre

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Mindy TuckerLucie Pohl is one of the funniest up and coming comedian/actresses/writers I have seen. I've known her for almost three years now and have seen two of her shows, both of which, left me in stitches. 

Now Lucie is revisiting her first one-woman show, with a re-worked version of Hi, Hitler, the story of Lucie finding her identity in NYC as an immigrant. Meet a German-Jew who grows up in a wild family of artists, is fascinated by the Fuehrer from age four, and is uprooted from Germany to NYC at age eight. Lucie yearns for normalcy, but being different seems to run in her bloodline and escaping her inherited high-drama-destiny might just be impossible.

Hi, Hitler will play at The Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street) from July 11-30. Click here for tickets!

For more on Lucie be sure to visit http://www.luciepohl.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. This July you are bringing a re-worked version of your award winning show Hi, Hitler back to NYC. How is this version different from the 2014/2015 version of the show? The new version of Hi, Hitler has lots of new material, most of the design team is new and I am working with a new director: the absolutely amazing Kenneth Ferrone! The show is funnier, sexier and better than blueberry pie!

2. What made you want to change up the show to this new version? I have done this show over 65 times in five different countries but I always felt the show still had more to give if I would just keep digging. I always wanted to see this show on a bigger scale, with set design, proper lighting! I wrote Hi, Hitler three years ago and have learned a lot and grown as a performer so I wanted to revisit it and make a Hi, Hitler super show!

3. What excites you about debuting this updated production of Hi, Hitler? Absolutely everything! Doing a three week run of my own show at the Cherry Lane Theatre on the most beautiful street in New York City is a REAL-LIFE dream come true for me! More than anything I am excited to try out the new material, I wrote a whole new ending for the show.

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Mindy Tucker4. You play over 30 characters in this show. Who's the easiest character to perform? Who's the most challenging? The easiest character to perform is my dad Klaus! He is larger than life and just like a crazy cartoon in real life so that makes it easy...The most challenging character to play is myself...Ummm, who am I? I have no idea.....

5. With all that is going on in this world over immigration and the travel ban, thanks to that moron in the White House, how do you feel your show is even more relevant than previously? Thank you for this question! I absolutely feel my show is more relevant than ever now that we have the Morange (that's what I call him - the orange moron - morange) in the White House. Him and his administration have attacked all of us immigrants! I feel angry and vulnerable and I think it's SO important to give immigrants of all kinds and backgrounds a voice right now. We are this country!

6. In this post-election life we live, how do you feel your upbringing actually prepared you for what is going on? My upbringing was intense and full of drama, in that sense I am well prepared for the ups and downs we are experiencing right now. My family has always been very political, my mother was a political prisoner in East Germany, my grandmother had to wear the yellow star, my father's parents were refugees from East Prussia, so politics was always a topic in our house growing up. I grew up with stories of speaking up and speaking out against oppressors, which makes it easier to navigate a time like this I think. When I asked my 95 year old Romanian-Jewish grandmother what she thought of Trump she said, "What do I think? I think I have already survived three mentally ill people who tried to ruin my life - Stalin, Hitler and Ceausescu and now this Trump is number four! But let me tell you something, there is always a crack you can find to live your life and speak out!"

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Mindy Tucker7. During his campaign and even still now, that idiot in the White House has been compared to Hitler, some even saying, he's Hitler #2. How do you think the original Hitler would react to this new Hitler-like person? If the election were between Hitler #1 and Hitler #2, who do you think would win? Hitler is a synonym for evil. And the problem with evil is not when it's in one person, the problem is when other people enable and support that evil, normalize it. I think that's what is happening right now and that is why morange is being compared to Hitler. So, I'm not sure I can answer that question. I think it's more important to think about, educate and fight all the people who are giving someone so divisive, bigoted and dangerous, power.

8. As you say in the show, while your friends were obsessed with candy, you were obsessed with Hitler. If you could have dinner with Hitler, what would you talk about? If I could have dinner with Hitler I would poison his soup, then I would spit in his soup and then I would tell him he's a piece of shit!

9. Throughout the show, you also talk about the high-drama of your family that you feel you have inherited. What is the most dramatic thing you would say ever happened to you? The most dramatic thing that ever happened to me is when I was six years old in Hamburg, Germany and did not win a meet and greet with David Hasselhoff at his concert. That was the day I learned what real pain felt like.

10. As a German-Jew, do you ever have a dilemma with what to make for dinner? As a German-Jew everything in my life is a dilemma.

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Mindy TuckerMore on Lucie:

Lucie is currently the voice of "Mercy" on Blizzard's massive hit video game Overwatch, which boasts over 30 million registered players. She has appeared in the films Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (Warner Bros.), Not Fade Away (Paramount/David Chase), and The Odd Couple (Margarethe von Trotta/Heimatfilm). She was also featured on Homeland (Showtime) and the wildly popular UK series Red Dwarf XI (Amazon).

Sunday
Jul092017

Call Answered: Amadeo Fusca: "The Comedy Blender" at The Triad + "Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus Live!"

Amadeo FuscaComedy, laughter, and variety shows oh my! As a comedian myself, I love chatting with other comics. When I learned about So You Think You Can Roast winner Amadeo Fusca's new monthly comedy variety show The Comedy Blender, I knew I had to hit that funny bone!

The Comedy Blender is a night of NYC's best comedians bringing you stand up comedy, original sketch and unique solo characters. The montly series kicks off Thursday, July 13 at The Triad Theatre in NYC (158 West 72nd Street). Showtime is 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!

On July 28, Amadeo will also be performing at The Triad in Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus Live! for one night only at 7pm and 9:30pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Amadeo be sure to visit https://www.amadeofusca.com and follow him on Twitter!

Follow The Comedy Blender on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a comedian? Eddie Murphy's Delirious defintely had an effect on me and has stayed with me through today. Steve Martin & Tom Hanks also inspired me. 

2. This summer you are the host of a new monthly variety show at The Triad Theatre called The Comedy Blender. How did this variety show come together? I met Rick Newman, who runs The Triad, at the Friars Club's So You Think You Can Roast competition that I won in 2013 and we stayed in touch since then, keeping him up-to-date on what I was doing. We saw each other in March and Rick had wanted to talk to me about this idea he had based upon the Catch a Rising Star comedy club that helped launch the career of many well-known comedians. I told him I know a lot people who are on the cusp of being the next big name and it's just a matter of them getting the right audition or meeting the right person, so I pitched him the idea for this monthly variety show and he liked it. So we booked the venue, the date, and talent.

3. What excites you about hosting this monthly series? It's great being in a position to be able to put a show together and choose who I think should be part of it. There are so many talented people in the comedy world and I'm just so excited about the line-up of people I've asked to be part of it. 

Jack Black and Amadeo Fusca at the 2013 "So You Think You Can Roast" competition4. Since this is a variety show and it's been said, "Variety is the spice of life," how do you keep your life spicy? I have a girlfriend who helps me have fun. She keeps coming up with ideas of great things to do.

5. In 2013, you won the Friars Club competition, "So You Think You Can Roast." How do you feel winning this competition will help your career? The competition itself is sort of an under the radar contest, but the people that were there are big names...Amy Schumer, Bob Saget, Jeff Ross, Dennis Rodman, Richard Marx, Gene Simmons.I met some great people that I kept in touch with and if you stay in good standing with people, you never know how they might help you or what opportunities they could create for you. I won this competition and have been working since, so when I get back in touch with these people, they can see what I've been up to. Also getting the "Roast" videos has helped me book some gigs because I can send that out to producers and they get to see what I'm able to do.

6. You also are touring the country with Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus Live!, which will be playing NYC on July 28. What do you like about performing this show? What are some of the best audience responses you've gotten after the show? The show focuses on relationships, how men and women relate to each other, how we deal with each other on date night, remembering anniversaries, how we do our chores differently, and then there is a section of the show dedicated to sex. As an actor, there's so much meat to this show. When a new actor is brought in, like myself, I'm allowed to bring my own style to delivering the script, which is great. I've added some improvised moments on stage and now those moments have been implemented into the script and some of them get the biggest laughs of the night. That just adds a whole new energy to the room. I'm very phsyical when I act this show out, and I have to be, because it's a 90-minute show, so I have to be as engaging as possible. My favorite part about performing this show is the freedom and trust I've been given by the whole team. 

As I perform the show and look out in the audience, I can tell which parts people really relate to because the couples start holding hands at various points. Couples really identify with this show. After the show people come up to me after and say, oh, he did that or she does that. It is geared towards heterocouples because the show is based off the book, but I think at some point it would be great to update the script a bit and really open the material up include every kind of relationship out there.

7. Since you are a comedian and we live in very trying times these days, how do you continue to find the funny during these darker times? Once you are in a position to create content, it's important to have a night where you can make people laugh and get them to concentrate on you and your performance. If you just look at the news all day, you'll just be depressed. You have to find a way to laugh in order to move forward. 

8. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? It's a cliche answer, but working on my body and getting in shape. I keep seeing my belly pop out more and more these days, especially when I wear a t-shirt and I'm like, "What's happening down there?" So, I'd like to work on improving that by 20% actually.

Amadeo FuscaMore on Amadeo:

Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and a regular at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Amadeo tours the country performing in the One Man Comedy Show Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus Live! In 2013, he beat out 55 other comedians to win the Friar's Club "So You Think You Can Roast?" competition. Amadeo joined the dais to roast Ricky Schroeder, NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman and Jack Black, performing alongside comic legends Sarah Silverman, Artie Lange, Bob Saget and Amy Schumer. Entertainment Weekly quoted Amadeo's as some of the funniest jokes of the event.

In addition to his live comedy, Amadeo's film and TV credits include Boardwalk Empire, Marvel's Daredevil, As The World Turns and the feature film A New York Heartbeat, starring Eric Roberts.

Thursday
Apr132017

Call Answered: Monica Piper: "Not That Jewish" at New World Stages

Monica PiperLast week I had the opportunity to go see Monica Piper's one-woman show Not That Jewish, a hilarious heartfelt show about her life in comedy, the Bronx, and being Jew-"ish." From family to relationships to laughter, Not That Jewish has something for everyone! If you want advice on being a comedian, Not That Jewish has it. Have a broken heart, Not That Jewish will help heal it. If you want to see a show with laughter and substance, Not That Jewish is the one to see!

Monica's performance was fantastic. There were so many moments my jaw dropped from laughter, I eventually lost count. Monica knows how to deliver a comedic moment like Willy Wonka knows how to make candy, perfectly! Monica's writing is strong (She has written for such hit TV shows as RugratsRoseanne, and Mad About You), which is what obviously made her an Emmy Award winner and Golden Globe nominee. Through the tears and laughter, Monica still shines bright, center stage, where she belongs!

I love all the behind-the-scene stories Monica shares with me in this interview about her life and the show. Not That Jewish plays at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue) through April 30th only! Click here for tickets!

For more on Monica & Not That Jewish be sure to visit http://notthatjewish.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. After seeing the show recently, I'm so excited to be doing this interview with you. What made now the right time to write & premiere Not That Jewish? I had written several stories for the Jewish Women’s Theatre Salon Series in Los Angeles and they were received very well. In about 2008, Ronda Spinak, the artistic director of Jewish Women’s Theatre, said, "I’m starting this new theatre; cutting edge writing and performing of the Jewish woman’s voice and I want you to write some original pieces." I said, "But Ronda, I’m not that Jewish." She said, "Yes you are, just create from the heart. Someday that’s going to be the title of your play," and that was in 2008. Anyway, I just kept writing stories for them and performing and we just suddenly started realizing that this whole body of work was really centered on this theme of passing it down and family. I was approached by one of the patrons of Jewish Women’s Theatre who said, "I love your stories and I want to commission you to write a play," and I started writing it in 2014. It opened in Los Angeles, and it was supposed to run for five weeks but it ran for sixteen months.

2. Being Jewish myself, there was so much I could relate to, especially the importance and love of family. In the show, you re-create your family throughout the show. When you are playing them (whether it be your mother, father, grandmother), what goes through your head during these moments? Does it make you appreciate them, miss them more, or just happy you have those memories? I appreciate them more and I think what has gone through my mind so many times is how they would’ve loved seeing this show and how they would’ve loved that I’m honoring them in this way. Every audience is different and they laugh at different things, but they always laugh at something my grandmother says, something my father says, and something my mother says. To me, that’s great because I’m honoring them and that feels really good.

Monica Piper and her dad3. In the show you, you say that Jews tend to laugh even during the darkest times. I definitely agree with that because I tend to find a lot of my humor during rough times and I see that in my dad a lot as while he was undergoing/recovering from triple bypass surgery, he kept his spirits up with his humor and that has definitely made an impression on me. After your mother passed away, how soon after did you and your father find that moment of laughter you portray? How did you feel to laugh again after such a tough moment? It took a day or two, obviously, to get over the shock, but we were sitting Shiva and it was during that time that I said, "Dad, we gotta laugh." There are moments in my life that, just because of time we couldn’t include everything in the play, but when I was growing up my father and I would sit and watch sports together and we would always make fun of the commercials, this was before DVRs when you couldn't fast-forward the commercials and had to watch them. There was an IBM commercial called "What if?" It showed a guy taking a shower and in the middle of the shower he clearly gets an idea and a voiceover says, "What if?" My father shouted at the TV and said, "What if you left me alone and let me take my shower?" Then I shouted, "What if I called the cops? I don't know you and you’re in my bathroom." We would just riff and laugh. The reason I’m bringing this up is because when we’re sitting Shiva and I say to him in the play, "Dad, we gotta laugh. Come on, let’s play." That’s what I meant, I meant let’s do what we’ve done in the past to make each other laugh and that’s what we did.

Monica Piper in "Not That Jewish"4. You also mentioned that when your dad passed away, you missed calling him when you wanted to bounce a joke off of him or had news to share about your professional life. Who became your substitute for him, if anyone? Yes, I also have great friends. Because I’m an only child, some of my friends are like my sisters. Not only do I have close friends, but I have an entire family of comedians, it’s like a tribe. The comedians that came up in the 80s or 90s, we traveled so much to comedy clubs that we knew each other. Now especially on Facebook, it’s so great. Even if we haven’t seen each other in twenty years, we’re still making each other laugh. Not only do I have great friends from my life as a civilian, but also from my life as a comedian. I had any number of people who could make me laugh on a daily basis. It was different with my family because he came from an old school way of thinking and laughing at things.

5. In writing this show, what is something you learned about yourself or your family that you didn't know while it was happening? It’s really very simple. What I didn’t realize while things were happening in my life is that things were being passed down. My father was not only passing down his humor to me, but his values, and my grandmother had passed them on to him; these ideas of humor, good deeds, acceptance, and compassion. My father always said, "Always think of the other person, kid," and I had passed that down to my son.

Monica Piper in "Not That Jewish"6. There are a few moments throughout the show where you pay homage to Alfred Hitchcock's Pyscho which got me every time. What made you want to format those instances with that tip of the hat? It happens twice: when my neighbor tells me I’m not that Jewish and then my husband tells me later on that I’m not that funny. Those are the two times where the only thing I could think of was the shocking horror, I wanted to show that it was like a horror movie to me. When my husband said, "Did it ever occur to you that you’re not that funny?" Ugh! Like stick a dagger in my heart, why don’t you! I just thought it was a very funny way to communicate to the audience very quickly and unmistakably that this was a moment of horror for me.

7. If you could have a conversation with your parents and Grandma Rose today, what would you want to tell them? First, I would thank them. I would thank them profusely for just giving me these values that are inherently Jewish without being outwardly Jewish. I would thank them for the view of the world they had, and for giving me a funny and compassionate place. I’m really lucky. A lot of comedians say that you can’t be funny unless you had a disastrous childhood, but I have to disagree. I had a funny childhood and that’s what I would thank them for.

Monica Piper in "Not That Jewish"8. What has been the most heartwarming story you've heard from an audience member after they saw the show? I have heard a lot, people relate on different levels. I’ve heard women talk to me about being adopted or being an adoptive mother and how that hits home. I had a birth mother thank me profusely with tears in her eyes for giving the birth mother’s side of the story. I’ve had cancer survivors, people who just lost their father or mother and this helped them get through it because it made them laugh and have a good cry, but I honestly think that the comment that really got to me was from a man who said, "I just want you to know that this is the weirdest thing. I had no idea when I came into the show that it was going to make me feel this way. But I know that I’m now going to be a better husband and father," And that blew me away.

9. When you were climbing up the comedy ladder, what was the most challenging part about being a female comedian in a male dominated industry? Them just always assuming that the female could not be as funny as a male. It was just a natural assumption. You were in these people’s presence knowing that attitude was there, even though you were killing it on stage. It was like that had to be a fluke. It was also challenging when I wanted to get booked at a certain club at a certain time of year and they would say, "We already have a female on the bill that week." There could never be two females and one male, that would be crazy to them and you were either the one female out of three, because there’s always three acts: an opening act, a middle act, and a headliner. It was either that you had one female or it had to be an all female show, "Look at us doing something wacky this week, we have all females!" It was really like that.

Monica Piper "Rugrats"10. What was the best part about being the head writer for Rugrats? What did you learn from being a writer on Roseanne? The best part on a personal level was being able to share what I did with my son. In other words, when I wrote on sitcoms, the hours were really long and when I had a script due, they would send you home. I’d be home writing with a deadline and I’d have to tell my son, "Jakey, I have a script due, I can’t do anything right now, I have to write." Whereas on Rugrats it was the greatest thing in the world, I would say, "Jakey, come here. I need a joke for Chuckie." He would be so excited to talk about Rugrats with me and I think the coolest thing was once he gave me a germ of an idea that I thought was pretty good, I made some changes and pitched it to the producers and they liked it, so I turned it into a story, then an outline, and then a script and I gave Jake story credit when he was seven years old. The show was produced and it said, "Share and Share a Spike: Based on an idea by Jake Piper, written by Monica Piper." I had that credit framed and when he woke up on his 8th birthday, it was hanging on his wall. That was the big difference between writing on sitcoms and writing on Rugrats.

RoseanneWriting on Roseanne was my first experience writing for a show. It was like being called up to the majors, and it was the number one show in the country so it was pretty cool. However, they kept you there until four in the morning. That was tough because Jake was very young when I was writing on Roseanne. I had a daytime nanny and a nighttime nanny so it was a difficult time for me. On one hand, I was thrilled to be writing for the number one show in the country, but I had made a promise to the birth mother that I would be a great mom and I was feeling guilt about the time I spent away from him. So as soon as Roseanne was over, I left the whole writing world and took my kid with me on the road for two years and it was great because we were never apart. But on the positive side, what I learned from writing on Roseanne was how to structure a story, how important it was to have an arc and a real beginning, middle, and end, and how jokes are not interchangeable. You can’t give a joke for "Darlene" to "Roseanne’s" sister, "Jackie." I learned to write for characters and how the character makes the joke funny. I really believe it was the beginning of me learning to be a really good writer, plus the thrill of getting your joke in a script and having other comedy writers laughing at what you wrote, and I also learned that male comedy writers have no problem farting in the room.

More on Monica:

Monica Piper was a Campfire Girl…in the Bronx. "You sense your life isn’t normal when you’re sitting on the D train with a bag of marshmallows and a twig." Monica began her career as a high school English teacher. While finding it rewarding, she had to move on. "I couldn’t handle the money and prestige." She realized her passion was making people laugh. She studied improv with Second City in Chicago, and performed with Spaghetti Jam, Sons of the Sunset and Papaya Juice in San Francisco. Monica then went solo as a standup and soon became one of Showtime Network’s "Comedy All Stars." It wasn’t long before she landed her own Ace Award-winning Showtime special, No, Monica…Just You. Monica was nominated for an American Comedy Award as one of the top five female comedians in the country. She has opened for Gloria Estefan, Neil Sedaka, Glen Campbell, The Smothers Brothers and Lucie Arnaz. Monica was recruited by Roseanne herself to write on Roseanne. Thus began her career as a sitcom writer. She went on to write for Mad About You and Veronica’s Closet. Now a mother, sitcom hours meant too much time away from her son, so Monica turned to animation. After writing for the adult cult favorite Duckman, she became the showrunner of the #1 children’s animated series Rugrats, for which she won an Emmy. She went on to develop and write series for Nickelodeon, Disney and Cartoon Network.

Monica has returned to her first love, performing. As a stand-up, she headlines clubs and organizations around the country. An artist-in-residence with the Jewish Women’s Theatre, Monica performs original comedy pieces for their acclaimed In-Home Salons. It was there that Monica developed her solo show Not That Jewish, which ran for 16 sold-out months in L.A. and was nominated for Best Solo Performance by the L.A. Drama Critics Circle and Stage Raw. Born and raised in the Bronx, Monica is thrilled to be returning to her NY roots with her show. "I’ve lived in California for 25 years but am still, and always will be, a New Yorker." Monica lives in Santa Monica with her son, Jake, whom she loves and adores almost every day.

Tuesday
Apr042017

Call Answered: Adrienne Truscott: THIS at New York Live Arts

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Richard HardcastleIt's taken me almost two years to make this interview with Adrienne Truscott happen, but I am beyond thrilled to finally have the chance to sit down with her. Adrienne first came on my radar with her one-woman show Asking For It, a show about the rules and rhetoric about rape, comedy and the awkward laughs in between. When I first heard about this show, I, like most people, didn't know what to make of it, so I pushed it off. Well, after seeing it come back around a few more times, I decided to open my mind and go see it. It was one of the best evenings I had ever attended. Adrienne had found a way to bring some humor and laughs to a very tough subject. I left that evening having the upmost respect for Adrienne, her comedy style, and braveness in tackling a subject such as rape.

So when I heard that Adrienne was developing a new show, you bet my ears perked up and I jumped at the chance to interview her. Adrienne's new show THIS is a solo performance which may not always be a solo, created specifically for Live Arts stage. THIS is a small or large or medium act of artistic survivalism and an ever-evolving work that writes, in real time, the libretto of the performance the artist is attempting to do which changes with each performance to reflect the new context brought by the performance at hand. THIS is a run-on sentence. THIS is a grift. THIS is a piece of cake.

THIS will be performed at New York Live Arts (219 West 19th Street) from April 5-8 at 7:30pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Adrienne be sure to visit http://www.adriennetruscott.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Carmine Covelli1. It's so great to finally get to interview you after seeing your show Asking For It. It was so good and I hope it comes back around again. But, we're here to talk about your new show THIS. THIS is an ever-evolving work that writes, in real time, changing with each performance. What made you want to have a show that changes with every performance as opposed to Asking For It, which had a more firm script? Well, it was actually that I was focusing on writing stuff that seemed more appropriate for the page than the stage, but I wanted to find out more about what I was writing, so I just gave myself the rule that since I had started this new writing focus, anytime I was asked to do something, I'd do this new written material - that was still developing - wherever I was asked to see how it behaved in different contexts or venues. To date, I've done it as a seven-minute spot in a performance series, as an hour-long "cabaret" show behind a piano (I don't play piano), as a sort of diplomatic artist's address at the Australian Consulate. So it sort of takes the shape of it's container, and it is sort of always in process. So now, at NYLA, it has to figure out how to behave in a big performance space which comes with a whole other set of institutional expectations, audience tropes, etc. Really, it's just me writing a book, but putting that process on stage or something.

2. What challenges does this style of show present for you? What freedoms does it give you? It allows me to play around with form and context, which is really what I'm interested in. And the writing is a lot about the slipperiness between fact and fiction, time and presence - from a vantage point of memory and competing narratives, attention, and other things. I find my memory of things and time are quite challenged from moving around a lot, some childhood dramas and traumas, etc. And I've only recently begun remembering lots of things. I've been finding that writing clarifies memories and sometimes is the key act that helps excavate them. I think the same is true of performance - it educates you about yourself - even when the work isn't autobiographical or if it's really abstract. That can be a bit beautiful and also a little scary. But I have the freedom to choose what writing is included as I continue to write - because the piece is more about form, content, structure and attention. It's also been interesting processing the difference between events you are certain have happened and events that just have vague memories or details attached to them in the current political climate of "fake facts." Plus, it's just been really hard for me to focus on artistic stuff because I sort of at the moment, just wish I was a lawyer or a journalist!

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Ian Douglas, Courtesy Movement Research3. You just came back from performing THIS in Australia. What did you learn from doing these shows that will enhance your upcoming NYLA run? I think the main thing I'm learning is how to make writing that was meant more to be read work on stage. And how much - as a theater piece instead - I can use the craft of theater and performance to assist in that, and play around with what's real or not, "true" or not, present or past. In Australia we did the piece in a tiny funny little makeshift "theater" - a room with a "stage" and two lights at a festival with 15 minutes to bump in. NYLA is a huge huge space - not a space I would originally choose to do a solo in, but that's how this particular project worked out timing-wise and stuff. So I was also trying to learn about how a sort of intimate personal piece would work in a huge space for NY audiences during a time of insanely preoccupying political upheaval by doing it in a tiny room in a pop-up venue in the basement of an abandoned postal building for gregarious Australians! What I learned is to let the piece adjust itself to the context. Thankfully, I am working (for the first time) with an amazing director called Ellie Heyman, and she has been helping it have a shape and structure. It's ironic to be an artist in NYC and find yourself with "too much" space.

4. In Asking For It, you had a lot of audience interaction and in THIS, is sounds like you will have a similar interaction if not more with the audience. Hmmm, I actually think I'll have less interaction with the audience in THIS. It's not confrontational like Asking For It, and although there is stand-up in it, it sort of understands itself as a piece for a proscenium stage and fixed audience. But usually I do like to fuck around with the audience. I learned it more from street performing and bringing people up onstage in that context - it's a really strong trope in street performing. I guess I love that the audience is always included in a live show, even if they are just sitting. I saw a Relaxed Performance recently (a performance where people who have all sorts of  behavior "along the spectrum" if you will, are encouraged to attend without feeling like they have to keep their physical or vocal behavior within the norms of most audience behavior), and it was brilliant. I've been pretty obsessed ever since with how traditional audiences behave. There are different implied contracts between the performer and audience in different contexts - i.e., at a comedy club people feel free to react vocally and directly, interrupting and heckling, where as at a "performance venue" the audience has sort of tacitly agreed to only about five responses: silence, laughter, crying, that person who inevitably thoughtfully goes, "Mmmm!"

Thankfully, I have been able to figure out a comeback while onstage. With Asking For It I feel so aware of the audiences tensions and weird feelings and so in control of that show. I've always understood exactly who I am and what to do onstage in that show. Also, when you're up there you sort of go in to survival mode, I think fight or flight type mechanisms kick in. I think I'm good in general in those situations.

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Carmine Covelli5. The description for THIS, ends with these three sentences: THIS is a run-on sentence. THIS is a gift. THIS is a piece of cake. So, for the next few questions, let's play with each of these. First, "THIS is a run-on sentence." What is something in your life you feel is like a run-on sentence? How my brain works a lot of the time. I've been told that as I start talking about one thing, I start putting it in context and relating it to other things, so I think the analytical part of my brain synthesizes lots of things at once in a slippery kind of way. The writing in THIS has a sort of "run-on sentence"/stream of consciousness aspect to it. Ohmygosh! I love your questions. I'm so glad you didn't just ask me if "I think you can make jokes about rape and why I do it with no pants on!" Which I've answered a thousand times!

6. Next we have, "THIS is a gift." What has been the best gift you have ever received? Oops! I have to correct you on that one, because the copy actually says "THIS is a grift." Which for me was sort of about if this performance, or any performance is a swindle or not. Or a game with the audience's expectations. Sometimes I think living as an independent artist, and the survival strategies you learn falls just on the "right" side of being a petty criminal! A grifter.

That said, I have been given many gifts in my life. The most recent favorites both have to do with art: an amazing grant; a life-size cardboard grand piano.

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Carmine Covelli7a. Lastly, "THIS is a piece of cake." I'm going to break this into two questions. First, what is something you find so easy to do? I guess one is to work on a lot of different art projects at once.I don't know if that's easy or just survival methods and the result of life as a freelance artist/performer. Also, solve problems.

7b. Second, what is your favorite kind of cake to eat? Hmmm, chocolate cake. Pure chocolate - meaning, I don't like when people fuck around with chocolate cake and put raspberries or something in it.

8. Who or what inspired you to become a comedian/writer/performer? Oh geez. I always loved comedy when I was little. Like, I would nearly die to watch Carol Burnett or Sonny and Cher (especially when Chastity would come out!) That REALLY dates me. And I cried after seeing Singin' In The Rain, because I realized I'd been born too late for that sort of thing (even though I was terrified of singing). But that was the kind of thing I always imagined doing, so it's funny to have instead become a frequently naked comic performance artist weirdo!

Adrienne Truscott, "Asking For It", Photo Credit: Sara Brown Photography9. I know I tried to focus on the new, but I can't do this interview without asking you one burning question I had when you were doing Asking For It. While the premise of that show was about rape and the title is a reflection of that, I'm going to take the title in a different direction. What is something that you are "asking for," still hoping to come true? I think about that a lot now that that phrase is such a part of my life. I think the thing that sticks with me is the power of that phrase meant literally, not as that bullshit excuse for someone else's violent behavior. I did a kickstarter to help me tour that show and it was a strange feeling for me to ask for money from other people to do something that was really important to me, and then I got it. And all this amazing support, and I thought. Wow, I just very simply and clearly asked for something I needed and I got it. So now, I try to think about that, when or if I am asking for something, versus hoping for something, and to be empowered by the notion of just asking for something and seeing if it comes back. It won't always, obviously, but. Right now, I would ask for a little more time to rest and recuperate between projects. But I think that's just something I have to ask of myself!

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Water intake.

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Allison Michael OrensteinMore on Adrienne:

For more than 15 years, Adrienne Truscott—choreographer, circus acrobat, dancer, writer, and as of late, comedian—has been making genre-straddling work in New York City and abroad. She is one of 20 artists selected nationally as recipients for the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award. Her evening-length solo comedic work and group choreographic works have been presented variously at Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Just For Laughs, Darwin Festival, PS122, Joe’s Pub, The Kitchen, Dublin Fringe, Danspace, and Dance Theater Workshop among others.

The Wau Wau Sisters, her neo-vaudevillian collaboration with Tanya Gagne, have been presented by such iconic venues as the Sydney Opera House (Aus), Joe’s Pub and CBGB’s (NYC), Victoria Arts Center (Melbourne) and The Roundhouse (London). The Wau Wausisters are fixtures at among others, the Edinburgh, Melbourne, Brighton, Adelaide, Perth and Philadelphia Fringe Festivals and are seen regularly in the international sensations La Soiree and La Clique. Their contemporaries broadly recognize the influence of their radical and ludicrous take on circus and cabaret.

Adrienne has taught at Wesleyan University Dance Department as a visiting artist, and guest taught at Sarah Lawrence College’s Theater and Dance Departments and Yale Universtiy.