Valentine’s weekend is the perfect time to see comedian Lisa Landry.
Not that she’s an expert on relationships. But she has just come through a nasty divorce, so there are some salient points she is likely to make.
“My divorce dragged out so long I thought my sisters in Saudi Arabia would be driving before it was finished,” she said in an interview previewing her visit to The Improv at The Waterfront in Homestead. “But it’s finally over. There’s material, but I’m not jaded. I’m optimistic now that I have purchased my freedom and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Still, getting out on stage and making people laugh can be cathartic — for her as well as for the audience.
“I’ve been blessed to have stages where I could go out there and vent my frustrations,” she said, “but you don’t want to be letting things out to the point where people are thinking, ‘Damn, girl, just go get a therapist.’ It’s a fine line, and you have to stay with the things that we all experience. Because it’s all universal.
“It can’t just be a rage fest where I’m just ranting. That wouldn’t be fun for anybody.”
Ms. Landry comes to us from Louisiana by way of New York and Los Angeles.
“I grew up in little town where there was nothing to do on a Friday night except go to the Dairy Queen or make a baby,” she said. “Two of my cousins got knocked up because they’re lactose intolerant.
“New Orleans is a hard town for live comedy because you have dollar draft beers and you can walk around on the sidewalks and see women get naked, so it’s not as if people really want to pay a cover charge and listen to somebody on stage tell jokes. There’s a lot of great clubs there that have come and gone.”
She traveled to New York to attend theater school, then bounced to Los Angeles once she started doing comedy.
“I used to have very horrible stage fright,” she said. “But you just keep getting up and making yourself do it. It’s like if you stink at basketball, but you love it. So you just keep practicing.
“I’m the opposite of normal. Now, I can get in front of 4,000 people, but I get a little shy one-on-one. If I’m talking to just one person, I’m always thinking ‘I hope I don’t say something to offend her.’”
The world of comedy has been a good fit for her, sometimes better than the real world, she said. And she has found a sense of connection with her colleagues.
“I don’t think we’re any more competitive or cutthroat than any other industry,” she said. “The difference is we don’t have an HR department. So when you have to deal with some baloney, you can’t just go see Karen on the fourth floor and say, ‘This is what happened to me.’
“I’ve temped in banking and finance, and I’ve seen people be just as ruthless as they could be in an attempt to get ahead. Creative people can be competitive, but we’re also sensitive and generous toward one another. There’s a definite empathy that we share with one another. A sense of camaraderie.”
And they have helped provide opportunities, including appearances on sitcoms, talk shows and even an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.”
“People help you,” she said. “They’ll throw you a $50 bar gig or help you get a meeting with a network. But if you didn’t do the work to begin with, no one’s going to open doors for you. You have to be the best comedian you can be.”
One of her opportunities was a snarky celebrity-fashion column that ran for a while in US Weekly.
“It was very ironic,” Ms. Landry said. “Here I was being the fashion police, but I’m like, ‘Is it clean? OK, I’ll put it on.’
“There’s something very sick about those people who can barely pay their rent sitting in their apartment making fun of somebody for wearing a $5,000 skirt. I actually feel bad about some of those jokes I wrote because now I look at them and I feel like they were mean-spirited.”
Ms. Landry is discriminating about whom she discriminating against.
“I don’t pick on Miley Cyrus, but I’ll go off on Rachel Ray,” she said. “One is a young woman trying to figure herself out, struggling to find her way in the world, wondering ‘How do I not be a Disney [kid]?’ and the other one has built an empire talking down to women, telling them how to live their lives. And I don’t make fun of Justin Bieber. He’s just a kid who needs a spanking, but I don’t think he deserves public ridicule.”
And ex-husbands who might take some of her comedy bits and bring them up during a custody battle? They’d better watch out. There’s a reason her latest album is titled “Use THIS Against Me.”
“I love what I do. I truly do,” Ms. Landry said. “I think every audience is amazing because something’s going to happen that will never be repeated. Every audience is a very spontaneous, living, breathing entity. Some things will resonate with a crowd and then you push that a little further. Or something will happen and you go with that. It’s like when you meet a person. Every person you meet is different. The same thing is true of an audience and I love the surprise of it.”
Lisa Landry is booked for all kinds of shows this weekend at The Improv, 166 E. Bridge St., in Homestead. Two shows tonight at 8 and 10:15.; Saturday at 7 and 9:15 p.m.; and another at 7 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $15 with a two-item minimum.
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