Corinne Fisher is one of the few comics that leave New Jersey to pursue her dreams of being a stand up comic across the Hudson River to New York city and I am lucky to be a good friend of this funny, talented woman. She’s been featured in Time Out New York for her one-woman show, Corinne Fisher: I Stalk You (Dir: David Crabb). Her second stage show, Almost Former Reality TV Stars had a run at the PIT in NYC in June 2011. She’s been a regular on the stand-up scene, playing anything from dive bars to world-famous comedy clubs like Stand Up NY, Broadway Comedy Club, Comix & Gotham. She recently opened up for another talented comic (Colin Kane) in Bananas Comedy Club in NJ as well. I sat down with her and asked her a few questions and advice for people who ever thought of ever doing stand up.
Q. Do you think living in New Jersey made you want to become a comedian?
A. I don’t know if it “made me want to be a comedian” as much as it “left me with no other option but to be a comedian”. Basically, I don’t think it’s any sort of coincidence that New Jersey boasts a ton of talented performers (Whitney Houston, Christina Ricci, Anne Hathaway, Lauryn Hill, Ray Liotta, Artie Lange, Chelsea Handler, Bruce Springsteen…to name a few off the top of my head). There isn’t much to do in New Jersey, which, for boring people, leads to excessive drug use, but, if you have a little bit of imagination, New Jersey can really be that refrigerator box that turns into a spaceship…ya catch my drift? I’m not high, I promise.
Q. Do you have any jokes based on New Jersey?
A. I have one: “A lot of people give New Jersey crap, but I always tell them…listen, we need New Jersey…it’s a constant reminder that it’s not only toddlers who have trouble dressing themselves.” I don’t really use it anymore, but I find it amusing. More of a Tweet I think, though.
Q. Is there a difference between a New Jersey and New York audiences?
A. Yes. I think it’s safe to say that a New York CITY audience is different than any other audience in the world. And that’s such a pretentious, I’ve-Lived-In-New-York-For-10-Years thing to say, but it’s true. The religious, cultural, sexual and political themes you can play with in NYC are just so much broader. Also, it’s the only place where you can really use all those amazing making fun of hipster’s jokes you thought of. And sometimes you can say them directly to a real live hipster and that’s Heaven.
Q. What made you want to do Stand Up comedy?
A. Since I was in High School I have always been a HUGE stand-up comedy fan. I remember staying up all night during the Summer soaking in everything HBO Comedy had to offer. I always loved it, but I never thought I could do it…I just didn’t think I was that type of person. I tried stand-up for the first time in a contest when I was 17 years old and I remember one of the people from Last Comic Standing was also auditioning for this same contest and I totally fanned out on her (she was super sweet about it). When I got into the audition room, and, remember, this is my FIRST time doing stand-up and it’s in front of three people staring at me from behind a banquet table (which I think would be a terrible way to do stand-up even now), I got one big laugh and I was happy. I thought, “Well, I made them laugh once, I didn’t bomb.” I think the best joke was something along the lines of, “I hate talking to people, but, ya know, sometimes you have to because they’re your roommate.” Reminder: I was 17. Having an annoying roommate was the only real pain I knew.
I didn’t do stand-up again until I was 25. I had taken all the core improv classes at UCB, was floating around the storytelling circuit, had just gotten fired from a reality TV show (that’s another story) and was in the midst of the run of my debut one-woman show “Corinne Fisher: I STALK YOU” at The PIT. After telling my personal favorite story, one that involves both my vagina and the FBI, at an art gallery downtown, a stand-up comedian named Jack Carter who had been in the audience came up to me and told me he loved my stand-up set. “Oh, that wasn’t stand-up. That was storytelling,” I replied. “No, that was stand-up. And you should do more of it,” said Jack. My life was never the same after that. I performed in my first big stand-up show at the now closed Comix in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan in December 2010 and have been completely head-over-heels in love with stand-up ever since. Thank you, Jack!
Q. Any advice for people wanting to get into comedy?
A. Do it. That’s such simple, short advice, but that’s all there is. If you are serious about it, do it. You’ll discover pretty quickly if you were meant to be a part of it or not because it is scary, ruthless, exhausting , time-consuming…and in the beginning very non-paying and non-glamorous. For me, though, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. I even like bad shows because I’m so early on in my career that I feel I’m constantly learning something new. It’s such a crash course in human behavior — both the behavior of others and yourself, you’ll get to know yourself real well, real fast with stand-up. My favorite thing about stand-up is it’s not something you can half-ass, but, if you have a healthy amount of talent and work super hard, I feel like most people see some sort of result or rise. Sure, it could take 10-20 years (that’s not uncommon at all, actually), but, if you love what you do, what a ride that will be! The most important thing to remember is that stand-up comedy is a job just like any other in that you have to take it seriously. And that’s such a weird thing to say…take comedy seriously. But it’s true. No one who is serious about stand-up has any respect for the people who don’t respect comedy. If you hear it once, you’ll hear it a thousand times: “Ya gotta pay your dues.”