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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Comedy (42)

Friday
Mar172017

Call Redialed: Lucie Pohl: "Apohlcalypse Now!" at Under St. Marks Theater

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Laura RoseLast time comedian/actress Lucie Pohl and I spoke, she was starring in her one-woman show Hi, Hitler, now these two Jews are talking about her new show Apohlcalypse Now! From tyrants to death, we know our herritage! In this new show, Apohlcalypse Now! bangs together stand up, storytelling and character comedy. Expect bad language, bad decisions, a wedding, a break up, dead rats and wake up calls from Stephen Baldwin.

Apohlcalypse Now! will play a very limited run, four performances only, March 20, 21, 27 & 28 at Under St. Marks Theater (94 St. Marks Place). March 20 & 27 are at 7pm. March 21 & 28 are at 8pm. Click here for tickets!

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

1. It's great to catch up with you! Last we spoke, we did an interview for your one-woman show Hi, Hitler. Now you are back in NYC with your brand new show Apohlcalypse Now! How ironic that your show a few years ago had Hitler in the title and now your show has Apohlcalypse (a funny take on apocalypse) in the title. In the few years between shows, we got a new Hitler leading our country and he's creating an apocalypse. How do you explain this irony? Yes that is creepy and ironic. I'm psychic! Or may be it's that artists have invisible, subconscious feelers which pick things up before they've emerged into daily life.

One way to look at it is also, Hi, Hitler was very much a fish out of water story which went all the way back to my Jewish-German family history of persecution and migration. The whole point of the show was embracing that not fitting in was in my DNA. In this sense, I am not surprised that those of us who are different (for many different reasons) have become a target again. The fight for acceptance against periodic assholes will never end, I think.

The Apohlcalypse theme came out of a period of extremely taxing events in my life that kept piling up relentlessly. I also had been having this feeling of imminent doom for a few years. I never anticipated that history would tie these two shows together in such a frightening way.

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Elmar Lemes2. What can people expect from this new show? What people can expect from Apohlcalypse Now! is a wild roller coaster ride into a year of tragically funny disasters in my life told through storytelling, stand-up and character comedy. It's an intimate, sometimes surreal, hilarious and very honest 60 minutes. And there's a goldfish monologue.

3. Let's play with the title of your show, "Apohlcalypse Now!" for a moment. What is the biggest event to happen in your life that would be as big as an apocalypse? The biggest apocalypse ever to happen in my life is when I realized Nutella is made with palm oil and I can no longer eat it! Game over!

No, ok, I'll be serious: it was the violent shattering of my 12 year relationship. Internally that was something which completely destroyed everything I thought I was, I thought I had and I thought I knew. And then a few other things happened simultaneously which just added more fire and brimstone. But these are all spoilers! That's what the show is about!

But one more thing: In writing the show I spoke to Anbarra Khalidi who is an apocalyptic scholar at Oxford (yes that's a job title) and she told me that the nature of the apocalyptic framework is both horror and clarity - exposing uncomfortable truths, mirroring the notion that we are our truest selves in moments of suffering, trial and judgement. This idea sort of fell into my lap and became what I was most interested in.

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Mindy Tucker4. In this show we can expect bad language, bad decisions, a wedding, a break-up, dead rats, and wake-up calls from Stephen Baldwin. So for the next few questions we are going to break these down. If you could create a sentence using your five favorite bad words, how would that sentence look? Trump is a motherfucking thundercunting asswiping fuck-shit fascist.

5. What is the worst decision you've ever made? What did you learn from this bad decision? The worst decision I ever made was deciding to act on every impulse I had regardless of the consequence. I've made many bad decisions. What I've learned (the hard way) is that decisions matter and they are decisions, not accidents. You control that, it doesn't control you. It's not always about doing the thing which feels best in the moment, it's about knowing what's important and what you want in the long run.

And of course looking at the ingredients list on a Nutella jar.

6. What is one of your most funny break-up stories? When I was a teenager my boyfriend at the time said he was going downstairs real quick to get a Snapple. He came back 10 days later. I tried to punch him and missed. We broke up.

Lucie Pohl7. What is a good wedding tale you can tell? I once went to a wedding in England and woke up in Wales.

8. I hate rats. I mean HATE, but I'm going to ask a question about them anyway. What is an interaction you've had with a dead rat? Big, fat spoiler but here it goes: I found a dead rat in my mailbox! Yes, this is a true story and I have the pics to prove it.

9. When did you get a wake-up call from Stephen Baldwin? I got a wake up call from Stephen Baldwin in Istanbul, Turkey when I was in a horror film with him about a cult which impregnates women with demon babies to make an army of super humans. Duh! What else?! (Another spoiler).

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? Right now I'm trying to not freak out on subway platforms every day about terrible MTA service. Yesterday I waited for 45 minutes at Union Square and at one point a nice man eating plantain chips told me to "Relax." Gotta work on that. Ommmm.

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Laura RoseMore on Lucie:

Lucie Pohl is a German-born-NYC-raised comedian, actor, writer, solo performer and producer. Her storytelling comedy debut HI, HITLER was nominated for the 2015 New York Innovative Theater Award (Outstanding Solo Performance), received 5 and 4 star reviews and played to sold out houses at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, on London’s West End, 59E59 Theatres NY & Los Angeles.

Thursday
Mar162017

Call Answered: George Bettinger: The Mom and Pop Shop

As the host of "Call Me Adam," I love chatting with other people who conduct interviews, especially when I ask them "What question I haven't asked that they would have liked?" It's so interesting to see how what someone else will think of. When I found out about comedian George Bettinger, who had a friendship with the legendary comic/TV host Joe Franklin and hosts the hit radio show The Mom and Pop Shop, I couldn't wait to interview him. He has interviewed some of entertainment's biggest names such as Madeline Khan, Julie Newmar, Robert Morse, Kathy Garver and so many more.

In this interview, we talk about laughter, fame, Joe Franklin, and get some inside scoop about a few of the celebrities George has interviewed!

For more on George be sure to visit http://www.momandpopshopradio.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

The Mom and Pop Shop airs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4pm EST! Click here to listen!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a comedian? As a child I had nephritis, which kept me indoors a lot. I watched a great deal of television. In the mid 60's there were great comedy films on TV from the silent days on up to the 50's. I loved Charlie Chaplin, The Marx Brothers, Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy, The Bowery Boys, The 3 Stooges and so on. It inspired me to imitate them and later to make little films on 8mm film doing that style of comedy.

George Bettinger and Lucie Arnaz2. You always say "Make sure you laugh a little everyday, it is important and can change the way you feel." Do you remember the first time laughter really changed the way you felt? If so, what was that moment? Has there been a day where you haven't laughed? If so, why didn't you? I can go as far back as being hospitalized for my nephritis, (maybe four years old) grabbing a doctors stethoscope and running down the corridor making the nurses and attendants laugh. There have been multitudes of days I haven't laughed. I suffered severe third degree depression and debilitating panic and anxiety.

3. When did you realize your brand of humor made people laugh and that perhaps this could be something you could do for a living? What feeling did you get the first time someone laughed at your jokes? Around age 12 I was making people laugh, in school, at friend's homes. I didn't think of it as a living then. A living to me was the toil my father worked at being a retailer on New York's Lower East Side, putting in six days a week selling luggage one suitcase at a time. From an early age I too helped out in the store. It was serious work. There was a huge family to feed with many splinter families and friends who came in and out of our home. My parents worked very hard. My mother took care of the home making sure all were fed and then packing food to take to her invalid parents. I accompanied her many times.

George Bettinger4. What was the worst comedy set you ever performed? After that performance, did you think of giving up or did you say, "We all have bad nights, I'm just going to learn from this and do better the next time?" I don't recall performing an actual stand up set that was so bad that I wanted to quit. There were many "on" and "off nights." I do recall attempting one particular bit on LIVE television that fell flat. It embarrassed me and gave me pause and made me realize that I can not do all that I think I could.

5. You first came to the public's attention as an Eddie Cantor impersonator on The Joe Franklin Show. What was it about Eddie Cantor that made you want to impersonate him? I loved Eddie's energy! I watched him on TV and really enjoyed his delivery and his mannerisms and his singing was unique. I read a great deal about performers. Eddie was one who was quite the humanitarian. He was also Joe Franklin's first friend in show business and I knew it delighted Joe when I impersonated him. As with Groucho Marx, I could do the "young version" and the "old version." Joe particularly got a kick out of when I would talk to him as the "old Eddie." Joe laughed and said "You make him sound like an old man in a rocking chair!"

George Bettinger and Joe Franklin6. What went through your head when you found out you were going to be on Joe Franklin's TV show? How long after your appearance on that show, did things start to change for you? Excitement, fear, adrenalin rush, pounding headaches and a feeling of accomplishment. Things changed relatively quickly. I was already putting together my first cable TV show called Movie Magic and contributing to The Uncle Floyd Show.

7. In a nice turn of events, you got to interview Joe Franklin in 1985. What was it like to interview the man who helped get you your start? Was there anything you wish you got to ask him that you didn't? I was 23. Joee was about 59 at the time. We were already long time friends. It was a delight to interview him. We had chemistry on TV and as personal friends. Joe kept a close circle of real friends. I was honored to be part of that circle. At that time he was extremely on top of this game as the "King Of Nostalgia" and a legendary late night host. He would not do any show. But he did mine. He then had me on his show the next week, sitting beside him, and told the world that "this is a recip (reciprocation)." He said referring to himself; "I did his show and now he is doing my show." I was able to make Joe laugh in private to the point where tears were flowing and he would beg me to stop. I would impersonate people that only he and I knew. We had a bond.

8. You are currently hosting the hugely successful radio show The Mom and Pop Shop on Dreamstream Radio. What do you love about having your own radio show? What made you want to call your show The Mom and Pop Shop? Our main station is Tune In Radio's It's Right Here In Miramar broadcast out of Miramar City Hall in Florida and heard worldwide on the Internet. What I love about The Mom & Pop Shop is that it's one of a kind. Fan's who merely met on the LIVE chat have literally traveled from FL to Italy to meet, from Ireland to The Bronx. That is loyalty and trust. I love that. It is a hybrid of the charm of the golden age of an accessible host combined with the immediacy of the fast paced internet. This is why NBC and ABC network news covered the show.

I decided to call the show The Mom & Pop Shop because of the album I created in 1998 titled George Bettinger's Mom & Pop Variety Shop which is still available of Amazon and CDBaby.

9. Over the years you have gotten to interview so many legends: Madeline Khan, Julie Newmar, Robert Morse, Kathy Garver and so many more. I personally was a big fan of Madeline Khan and Julie Newmar, what was one surprising fact about each of them that you learned from interviewing them? If you don't remember, then you can answer this question...what do you enjoy most about interviewing people? Who do you still want to interview? Madeline Kahn and I clicked as soon as we met in person. It was at an audition. She was a brilliant performer and a genuine person. I was overjoyed to gain her trust. When I reflect back, I realize that this was very important to Maddie. I feel blessed that she was in my life. William V. Madison mentions me in the first authorized biography of Madeline Kahn. I am at the top paragraph of chapter 74. Quoted as "her friend George Bettinger." What struck me most about Julie Newmar was her keen intelligence and wisdom on how to deal with life. I think of the words she said to me everyday. There are many people I wish to interview. I enjoy talking to people.

10. As an interviewer yourself, what is one question I didn't ask you that you wish I did? (and please provide the answer to said question). Here is my question: Where would you like to see yourself in the industry? I would like to have a television show, that would give me the opportunity to be a genuine, charming host sans the popular snarky-ness so prevalent today. I would like to have a program like The Joe Franklin Show where celebrities are interviewed and up and coming talent get their start.

11. 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? Wisdom. I wish to continue to learn.

George BettingerMore on George:

George Bettinger began producing short comedy films by the age of 12, at a time when Kodachrome Silent 8mm film was the standard. "I began way before VHS tape. We had to purchase each 3 - minute film cartridge individually. It was costly for a kid. Three minutes was 50-feet of film stock and then we would shoot scenes and hope that after waiting a week for the 50-foot roll to be processed, something showed up that was usable!" At the same time, George was appearing regularly in school plays and occasionally showing his 8mm custom made films at school.

At a young age, George developed a great appreciation of classic comedians from the golden age of silent and early sound films. By 16, he was impersonating Groucho Marx, Eddie Cantor and other legends, when he caught the eye of broadcast legend Joe Franklin, who featured George regularly on The Joe Franklin Show on WOR-TV. He was also writing and appearing in comedy bits on The Uncle Floyd Show.

In 1982, George created an early cable TV series called Movie Magic, which ran for five years. He simultaneously worked at his father’s world famous little luggage store, Bettinger’s Luggage, on Rivington and Allen Streets in NYC’s historic Lower East Side. There George delighted customers with his impersonations as he sold suitcases.

Throughout the late 1980’s and 90’s, George kept busy auditioning and booking numerous radio and television commercials, playing the voice of the animated red M&M on NBC promos for Frasier and Will & Grace, one of the highlights of his commercial career.

Teaming with his mentor Joe Franklin on Saturday nights on WOR radio as Joe’s "Man of 1000 Voices," gave George the opportunity to release his CD, The Mom & Pop Variety Shop on Original Cast Records.

When given the enthusiastic green light to bring a 90-minute radio program to the internet George used the CD as his template and The Mom & Pop Shop was born.

Thursday
Oct272016

Call Redialed: Tori Scott: Seeing Double at Joe's Pub 

Tori ScottI can't believe it's been two years since I've gotten a chance to talk with belter and bad decision expert, Tori Scott. Tori's talent for singing and telling stories is unparalleled! I always love interviewing Tori because I know my jaw will drop from astonishment and laughter. We may have missed each other by one day in Provincetown this summer, but back here in NYC, we have connected to talk about her brand-new show Seeing Double which is coming to Joe's Pub this November!

In Seeing Double, Tori takes us on a celebration of poor life choices mixed with a hint of lingering regret and too much tequila. It's a shameless journey of slurred autobiographical stories filled with songs written by other people. Seeing Double will be at Joe's Pub on Sunday, November 13 at 9:30pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Tori be sure to visit http://itstoriscott.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

For more on Joe's Pub visit http://joespub.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

Tori Scott performing at Joe's Pub in NYC1. I'm so glad we are doing this new interview together. Always a pleasure to get your insightful thoughts on your shows. This November you are returning yet again to Joe's Pub with an all new show called Seeing Double. What made now the right time to present a new show? What excites you about this new show? I love working on new material. I have a wish list of songs that I want to sing and I go through that list when I work on a new show and see which ones I can make work. I also had a great summer doing shows in Provincetown and Fire Island that were very much geared towards a gay audience and I’m really looking forward to talking about that!

2. Why did you title the show Seeing Double? When have you seen double? Seeing Double has several meanings for me. There’s the obvious one of drinking too much. It’s also about my friends coupling up and getting married, or having children. Another example of Seeing Double has to do with the fact that a lot of my gay friends and the guys they introduce me to have beards and frankly, sometimes, I cannot tell them apart.

Tori Scott, Photo Credit: Johan Salvador3. This show celebrates your life's poor choices mixed with a hint of lingering regret, & too much tequila. What do you consider your life's poorest choice thus far? What is something you have a hint of lingering regret towards? When was a time you drank too much tequila? Probably going into the entertainment business instead of pursuing a career where I could actually make money would be considered a poor life choice. I don’t have huge regrets in life, but I do have those lingering moments of wishing I acted differently around someone or wishing I had left a party sooner than I did. It’s often called "shame spiraling."

When it comes to tequila, I always drink too much of it. I have been doing the paleo diet off and on for the past year and vodka (my drink of choice) is not on the diet. But silver tequila is and it’s actually delicious. Well let me tell you….a little bit of that goes a long way!

Tori Scott performing at Joe's Pub, Photo Credit: Dan Klein Photography4. What is one story of Seeing-Double that did not make it into the show that you can share with us? It’s too early to answer this. I’m still playing around with stories and figuring out what I’m including or cutting! I really get down to the wire on these things!! I will say though, all of these stories are based on real life events…it’s just a matter of if I’m ready to share them or not.

5. Since drinking is always involved in your shows, if you had to look back over your life in drinking, what are your top 3 best drinking sessions and what have been your 3 worst?

 I would say top 3 drinking moments:

  1. This past January I went to Napa for wine tastings for my birthday with my sister and best friend.  Every place we visited was an incredible drinking session. The most delicious wine!
  2. Another great moment was drinking a Hurricane at a bar in New Orleans overlooking Bourbon Street. I watched very drunk people falling and laughing and pushing beer kegs in strollers..it was chaos. It was like something mythological…like a tribute to Bacchus or something.
  3. My 30th Birthday…which was sadly several years ago, was an amazing drinking moment. My sister and brother flew into town. We took over an entire upstairs section of a bar. Everyone had way too much fun and my brother was passed out on the couch in the bar before 9pm. I love a celebration!!!

As far as the worst moments go….those are the ones I can’t really remember. That’s the thing about drinking…too much of it makes everything a tad blurry. I will say that time I was arrested for Public Intoxication ON NEW YEAR’S EVE in Texas was not probably among the worst. And my mom had to bail me out so she certainly wasn’t happy with me.

6. If you were told, today is your last day on earth. You can have 1 drink. What drink would that be? I would say "screw you Paleo diet" and have a Tito’s martini slightly dirty with 3 olives in a very large martini glass! Yummy!

Tori Scott7. You are described as a belter and bad decision expert. When did you get crowned bad decision expert? Was there one epic decision that got you this title or was it just a series of bad events and finally you were like, "Fuck it. I've made so many bad decisions in my life, I'm giving myself the title of bad decision expert."? My friend labeled me a bad decision expert after my first show at Joe’s Pub four years ago. And, I appreciate the title. It’s important to be able to acknowledge your mistakes and bad decisions and grow from them. Although, I’m not sure I’ve grown that much from them, but I definitely enjoy singing about them.

8. Based upon your own experiences, what is the worst advice you could give someone? I think the worst advice I could give someone is that they should always go to a second location with people you’ve just met….especially if they want the night to end at about 4am.

9. What is the biggest misconception about Tori Scott? Honestly, I think the biggest misconception about "Tori Scott" is that my stories in my show are made up. The stories I tell in my shows are all true! I did one of my shows in Dallas a couple years ago and the reporter from the Dallas Morning News just would not believe my stories were true!

10. We both share a passion for fitness. I'm not sure if we share the same passion for it, but I know you've been doing it a lot. So, I'm excited to ask you this question that I've been asking everybody. 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? I don’t know if I would call myself someone with a passion for fitness. That’s a bit of a stretch. I find it to be a necessity with growing older.  But, I am trying to find the joy in fitness. I made a commitment to myself about a year ago that I was going to find some sort of physical exercise that I enjoy. And I found Flywheel. I love it! It’s competitive and a great workout and I feel like I might die/amazing afterwards. And the music is amazing. I find that if I challenge myself to a workout like this not only do I benefit physically, but also mentally.

Tori Scott More on Tori:

Tori Scott is a New York based singer and comedian. She was named Time Out New York’s Top 10 cabaret artist and has performed her solo shows at Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, the Laurie Beechman, the Metropolitan Room,and every gay bar on the Eastern Seaboard. As an actress, she was recently seen performing alongside Alice Ripley in a concert reading of a new musical The Girl with Polka Dot Eyes and performing opposite Linda Lavin, Leslie Uggams and Stephanie J. Block in the Symphony Space tribute to Sheldon Harnick and Fiddler on the Roof. On television, she's counted to 20 as a singing garbage woman on Sesame Street and dubbed the vocals of a singing hooker on HBO's Cathouse: The Musical. She is a graduate of The Boston Conservatory.

Wednesday
Oct262016

Call Answered: Shane Shane: Tonight's Special at Sid Gold's Request Room

One of my favorite kind of interviews is one that comes from a performer doing something fresh that I have not seen before. When Shane Shane was brought to my attention about his show Tonight's Special which is an all request format of jokes, stories, songs, and videos chosen by the audience, I immediately ordered up an interview and Shane Shane was kind enough to answer my call. 

One of the my favorite parts of our interview was learning about our mutual love and inspiration of Boy George.

Shane Shane's Tonight's Special plays the FIRST TUESDAY of every month at Sid Gold's Request Room (165 West 26th Street, between 6th & 7th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Shane Shane be sure to visit http://shaneshane.net and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I read an interview with Boy George where they asked him when he decided to start wearing makeup and he responded "These things are inborn." For as long as I can remember I always liked making a spectacle of myself foremost, and happily that dovetails nicely with singing and telling jokes which I also happen to enjoy. And tangentially, I also stole my mom's makeup from a very young age.

Shane Shane2. The first Tuesday of every month, your show Tonight's Special with Shane Shane, will be playing Sid Gold's Request Room in NYC, each month featuring a special guest. The show is an all request format where upon arrival, every audience member is presented with a menu of jokes, stories, songs, and video pieces that you will perform based upon what the audience orders you to do. How did you come up with this style for the show? The format popped into my head because it followed the form my work was taking recently. I've slowed down on writing songs, but sped up on making videos and telling stories. It takes a lot of work to write a cohesive, well-executed cabaret show that really hunkers down into a theme and sinks its teeth into its little world, and I haven't yet had the time to really flesh out a show like that (although I'd like to soon). But if you treat the evening like a live mixtape that the audience is recording as you go, there's built-in participation, there's stakes for the audience, and there's a constant stream of fresh material.

3. What excites you about performing this show? What makes you nervous? What excites me the most is the pressure to create new material for every single show. The show gets stale if you keep reshuffling the same material, so I love holding myself to a deadline. That pressure also makes me nervous.

Shane Shane4. How do you prepare for this kind of format, not knowing what the audience will ask you to do? I don't prepare for it. The night before I make sure the tech is up and running and I kind of mentally scan through the options I'm offering, but I like to keep things spontaneous and alive for this show, and what better way to do that than slightly underprepare?

5. Do the jokes, stories, songs, and videos change from month to month or is the variety in the not knowing what will be asked of you to perform? The whole show is kind of an exercise in topping-from-the-bottom situation: the audience gets to choose the material but the material isn't a choice unless I say it is. There's always a mix of old and new material. Down the line I'd love to do more thematic shows: all piano numbers, all video numbers, all torch songs, all songs and stories about paper etc. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

6. How do you decide on who you want your special guest to be each month? Choosing the special guest is easy. I'm lucky to constantly be meeting talented and wonderful people who I admire and want to see more of. Asking them to be my guest is a really low-impact way of forcing them to hang out with me without the stress of actually asking them to hang out.

Shane Shane7. Usually when you are presented with a menu, you order off of it, as you are asking the audience to do each month. What happens if someone wants to order a special? Is there room for a special performance? There's some wiggle room, I guess. If we get to the point where a public notices that something is missing and demands it I'm going to be VERY proud of myself.

8. What do you like about taking orders from people? Apart from the psychosexual implications? Just making people happy by giving them what they want. I suppose that's also a psychosexual implication right there, isn't it?

9. What's your favorite meal to order? Food always looks better on someone else's plate. My favorite dish is whatever my boyfriend is already eating.

10. If you could have ordered me to ask you a question, what question would you have told me to ask? (Please provide the answer to the question you wished I would have asked). I'd order you to ask "is there any reason our readers shouldn't buy a ticket right this instant" and I'd answer, from the bottom of my heart, "No. There is no reason. Buy a ticket now." Tickets!

Shane ShaneMore on Shane Shane:

Shane O'Neill is a writer, performer, and video-maker. He and his work have appeared at Joe's Pub, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Refinery29, ArtNews New York, and at too many gay bars and DIY queer venues to mention here. He has performed extensively in the US and Europe with his Shane Shane music project. His one-man variety show Tonight's Special occurs the first Tuesday of every month at Sid Gold's Request Room. He has a cat named Wanda, a boyfriend named Dusty, and a wonderful family--both chosen and by blood--all of whom he loves a great deal.

Monday
Sep192016

Call Redialed: Wendy Liebman: America's Got Talent + "Locally Grown Comedy" at The E Spot Lounge

Wendy LiebmanFor over 20 years I have been a fan of comedian Wendy Liebman, NBC's Season 9 America's Got Talent semi-finalist. She has been making me laugh over and over again whether it be at a comedy club, during one of her many appearances on Late Night TV or while watching one of her comedy specials on HBO, Comedy Central, or Showtime. I have grown-up with her comedy and consider her one of my comedic influences.

Now Wendy has taken on the role of producer with her Tuesday night monthly comedy showcase Locally Grown Comedy at The E Spot Lounge in Studio City, CA. Every month features 6-8 acts per show. Wendy's next installment of Locally Grown Comedy is tomorrow, Tuesday, September 20 at 8pm! $10 cover + 2 item minimum.

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

1. You have been performing stand-up comedy for over 30 years now. How do you continue to find the funny, especially during these trying times we live in? I only get funnier. Thank the lords of humor. (My husband tells me I get prettier. His eyes are going). Seriously though, I feel funnier. And happier. I'm a very lucky person (except in Vegas). Regarding these trying times, I listen to John Oliver, Bill Maher, and all the jokes on Late Night, because these hosts perfectly frame current issues and shine light on the absurd.

2. In 2015 you started producing a monthly evening of comedy in Los Angeles at The E Spot Lounge, called Locally Grown Comedy. What made you want to produce an evening of comedy? Why did you decide to call it locally grown? I lived in Studio City and I was walking home from lunch and I passed Vitello's Restaurant and remembered I had once done comedy in the lounge upstairs. I contacted one of the owner's, Brad Roen, and asked if I could start a show there. It was good timing, until we moved 20 miles away. But anyway, since June 2015 I've hosted 15 shows with 6-8 acts per show, amazing comics, including George Lopez, Tig Notaro, John Mulaney, Carol Leifer and Arsenio Hall.

I had just heard about a Farm to Table restaurant where all the food was locally grown. I liked that idea. I'm finding comedians who live in LA or are visiting who want to work in town on a Tuesday night. Right now everyone who performs gets $20 and pizza, pasta and salad. The comedians hang out over dinner, and friendships are sown.

3. One locally grown person performing on this regularly is your step-son Alex Sherman. What is it like to work with Alex on a professional basis? How does this collaboration strengthen your relationship? Alex Sherman is a phenomenal musician, singer-songwriter type, compared to Jackson Browne, Elliot Smith, James Taylor, Neil Young, The Beatles. I had had ideas that he and I should do a step-mother/son act, but it never happened. But when I started producing the show I had Alex on stage playing before the show and between acts. It slowly morphed into him just playing for 15 minutes prior to the show. Alex appreciates the stage time and now he has new fans. But it's only a matter of time before he'll be on the road :)

Alex Sherman and Wendy Liebman4. What has been the best part about this monthly series? What is the most challenging part about producing a monthly series? What do you get from producing that you don't get from performing? The best part of Locally Grown is the Cheers-like feeling at the show. It's a supper club room, seating 100 or so, and so many people come every month that it feels more and more like family! The most challenging part...all equally challenging. I want to treat the acts how I want to be treated. I love producing -the day after the show! But honestly I love introducing the comedians -- the fact that I got THIS TALENT to perform for YOU makes me so happy. When I'm performing I always feel a little embarrassed, but when I know I've organized the show, I'm full of joy.

5. We are both locally grown Long Islanders. Where were some of your favorite places to go growing up? I hung out at The Bryant Library and duck pond a lot. I went to Fern's and My Father's Place, Roosevelt Field and my friend's Beth's house. But I mostly hung out at school in the drama club, The Royal Crown Players.

Wendy Liebman performing6. In 2014, you and your husband, Jeffrey Sherman, were struck by a drunk driver. The accident resulted in damage to seven cars and one fatality. In the moments right after the accident, what went through your head? Why didn't I eat dessert? But for real, life can be over in a flash. I better start making many more people laugh. Then I decided to audition for America's Got Talent.

7. After an experience like that, how long was it until you first laughed again for yourself and what was it that made you laugh? Then, when did you say, "Okay, I'm ready to make others laugh again"? Do you feel your routine changed after the accident? Do you find humor in different things now than before the accident? Even though we weren't hurt physically, I was in shock and stayed in bed for a few days. And even though I wasn't driving it took me a couple of weeks before getting behind the wheel. My act didn't change, but I did, in that way that you change when mortality rears its head.

Wendy Liebman on "America's Got Talent" Season 9 on NBC8. You were on Season 9 of America's Got Talent, making it all the way to the semi-finals. You've had such a successful career already, what made you want to be on the show? What did you take away from your experience on it? Would you do it again? I had seen a few comedians on the show and I thought I want to do that! Then there was the car accident and that tipped the scale. People wondered why I did the show after having been in the business for 30 years. But you have to make opportunities for yourself! And I met the most talented people (Mat Franco, Emily West, Rachel Butera) and got my favorite pair of shoes ever (Gucci).

9. What's yet to come for Wendy Liebman? What do you still want to accomplish that you haven't? Well, I said I wouldn't talk about it until I finish it, but I'm writing a musical about three stand up comedians in Las Vegas over Valentine's Day weekend called Home on Tuesday. (My dream cast is Kristin Chenoweth, Josh Gad, Bruno Mars and Adam Lambert). I'm also writing a novel and I'm studying acting with Shari Shaw because I'm an actress at heart.

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? First of all, I follow you on social media and the pictures of your fitness program are 100% inspirational. Your transformation makes me want to get 1 % more fit every day. Love you Adam!

Wendy LiebmanMore on Wendy:

Wendy Liebman took a class "How to be a Stand-Up Comedian" at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in 1985. Since then she has performed on Carson, Letterman, Leno, Fallon, Kimmel, Ferguson, and Hollywood Squares, in comedy clubs and events throughout North America. Wendy has starred in specials for HBO, Comedy Central, and Showtime, and was a semi-finalist on Season 9 of NBC's America's Got Talent

She lives in Los Angeles with her funny family and dogs, and produces Locally Grown Comedy at The E Spot Lounge in Studio City, a monthly show featuring the best stand-up comedians around. Check out her DVD "Taller on TV" on Amazon!