Meadville comic Tammy Pescatelli stays connected to the funny
Fresh from putting her son, Luca, on the school bus for the first day of school, Tammy Pescatelli, the Italian comedienne from “Last Comic Standing” fame, admitted that she wiped away a few tears when she called in to speak about her appearances Sept. 5 to 7 at the Pittsburgh Improv.
Born in Cleveland, Pescatelli now resides in the cozy hamlet of Meadville, where she's playing house with the love of her life, husband Luca. Yep, there's a whole lot of Luca going on. “At least if I get Alzheimer's, I'll be all right,” she says.
She's able to stay in contact with Hollywood and New York in the electronic age from Meadville and raise her son in a familyfriendly environment.
“I do 80 to 90 percent of my auditions online,” she says.
Pescatelli tries hard to have a good work-life balance, but like the rest of the world, “I'm not sure I do. Everyday, I try to pull it off. I'm like the U.S. government; deny, deny, deny.”
She recently taped a new special in Boston called “Finding the Funny” that will air on Netflix.
“Nobody needed to find the funny more than that city,” she says.
Question: What age did you know you wanted to be a stand-up comedian?
Answer: When I was little I knew I wanted to act. I was in all the plays at school. I won the award that is the equivalent of our county's Oscar. As for comedy, I remember sneaking Eddie Murphy's “Delirious” in my house and listening to it my closet with a blanket over my head. I still know it.
Q: How does your husband deal with the added responsibilities while you're on the road?
A: He's an amazing father, everybody also helps my family. I also only go out eight to 15 times a month — not consecutive — and when I get home they all say, “Here's your kid.” And he gets (the show-business life).
Q: Is there anyone who stands out when you were starting out who helped you in your career?
A: There are so many people. The comedians who let me open for them on the road: Dom Irrera, D.L. Hughley, John Pinette, David Sedelmeier over at Talent Network (Pittsburgh), Ross Mark and Bob Read, “The Tonight Show” talent coordinators, if they didn't put me on “The Tonight Show,” I would have never got “Last Comic Standing.” In Pittsburgh, Randy (Baumann) and Billy (Crawford) at (WDVE-FM) for putting me on. At every level, there are so many people to thank.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a woman in a male-dominated field?
A: Funny is funny! People I started with, like Kathleen Madigan, we didn't want to be chicks, we just wanted to be comedians. It doesn't really affect you until you get to the television-deal level. Some of these young female comedians are trying to use sexy and are filthy. That's fine when you're in your 20s, but not when you're 44. You're not going to sell many tickets to see that.
Q: Bonnie McFarlane did a documentary called “Women aren't Funny.” Is there a sexual divide in comedy?
A: Bonnie and I had a notorious feud. Now, we're best of friends. I think she did an amazing job of giving example after example of how funny women are. Like I said, funny is funny. There are about 4-to-1 men in comedy. Maybe we can say (by percentages) that men aren't funny. The key to comedy today is to relate.
Q: What can we expect from your show in Pittsburgh?
A: To laugh. If you're a “judgie,” stay at home, if you're politically correct, stay at home. I'm here to make people laugh, and I'm tired of stupid people.
Comedian Matt Wohlfarth is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.