For 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.
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 :)
4. 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.
6. 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.
8. 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 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!