by Ryan Meehan
With over two dozen television credits to her name, Carole Montgomery is an respected veteran of the standup comedy scene nationwide. In addition to her numerous television appearances, Carole has headlined clubs & colleges across the USA and starred in 2 different Las Vegas production shows. In her ten years as a Las Vegas star, it is estimated that she has been seen by over 5 million audience members. The Las Vegas Sun calls Carole “one of Vegas’ premier comics” while the San Antonio Express says Carole is “one of the pioneering female comics of the modern era”. The Seattle Times calls Carole “one of the strongest women working today”. Carole is also accomplished director & producer. She created and directed “Fine, Funny, and Female”. She is currently directing the one man play “The Lighter Side of Death”. And recently directed Jim Florentine’s show “I’m Your Savior”. Carole is the voice of “Mom” on the hit animated web series “Damaged”. She co-produced the NYC Underground Comedy festival, and has produced comedy tours for Armed Forces Entertainment. So far Carole & her NY Underground Comedy Festival All-stars have performed in Iraq, Haiti, Kosovo, Holland, Kuwait, Diego Garcia, Singapore, Honduras, El Salvador and Germany to rave reviews. Carole was also a featured performer at the coveted Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, and she’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What’s your overall opinion of the term “comedienne”? Do you think that term is really even necessary?
CM: I think it’s just another word. Honestly no-one has called me that in years. Some other slang words for female yes, but definitely NOT that. A comic is a comic, regardless of gender. One of the biggest compliments I ever got early on in my career was from a male comic. He said “Carole, we don’t consider you a comedienne, we consider you just a comic” One of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.
RM: This is really cool…we’ve interviewed Jim Florentine from VH1’s “That Metal Show” before and I’m reading in your bio that you directed his one man show “I’m Your Savior”. Could you briefly describe the professional relationship that you have with Jim and explain the work that goes into directing another comic’s one man show?
CM: Jim and I knew of each other from “the road”. I had heard about his show, went to see it and told him it was good but needed work. He ignored me for awhile and then we ran into each other at a gig and I started telling him what I thought we could do with it. Telling a comic what to do is tricky as we all self direct whenever we are onstage. A solo show is different because it’s not just jokes, it’s weaving stories, some funny, some tragic and bringing the audience along with you. You have to be careful it’s not a woe is me fest or just jokes. One of the first things we fought about was not using a mic onstage. If it’s a theater piece, there’s no need for a mic. Plus a mic onstage immediately makes the audience think, standup. We worked for about 8 or so weeks and I’m proud of it and him. We made it a wonderful, touching piece. I would love to see HBO or Showtime pick it up. It’s a side of Jim that most people don’t see and it’s pretty awesome.
RM: In a country with a 50% divorce rate, how does anybody in show business stay married for 28 years? What advice would you give to young couples who have just walked down the aisle?
CM: DON’T DO IT!! Just kidding. Actually in 2014 we will celebrate 30 years! My husband and I always knew we were in it for the long run. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs in the early part of our marriage but we were both stubborn enough to stick it out. Like I say onstage, “the only reason you stay in a relationship this long is to see who’s gonna die first” Once my son was born, there was no turning back. Though my son jokingly told us recently that if we DID divorce he thinks it would help his dating experiences, you know, the sympathy vote.
RM: For those who aren’t familiar with the term, what does it mean to be a “PT&A Mom”? And what is the story behind your Twitter handle?
CM: I was starring in a production show in Las Vegas called “Crazy Girls” which was a topless burlesque show. And no I wasn’t topless, just the host. I had written a solo show about how bizarre it was to be a regular suburban mom during the day and being in that type of show at night. My husband coined “PT&A” as a twist of PTA and T&A show.
My twitter handle @NationalMOM came to be while I was overseas entertaining the troops. I’ve done 9 tours with Armed Forces Entertainment, it’s been the highlight of my career. One day while I was bitching about something political on social media, one of my fans wrote “I’d vote for you to be our NationalMOM.” And it stuck. My motto is “let me handle the budget crisis, I have coupons”
RM: As an entertainer who relays stories from her own life, do you feel like you are always writing? Or are you the type of comedian that sets a particular time of the day dedicated only to writing? At some points in time, do you ever feel like you are “always on stage”?
CM: I worked very hard not to be one of “those” comics who are always on. I had too much to do, raising a son and hoping he wasn’t scarred for life having mother who’s a comic. (By the way, he is)
As far as writing, my creative process comes and goes. I do most of my best work when I get an idea and then flesh it out onstage. I just finished 2 weekends headlining back to back, so having the 45+ time onstage I actually came up with some new ideas. My producing partner, Jim Mendrinos & I disagree on this. He writes every day, I do only when inspiration hits me.
RM: I have to ask because I’m such a big fan of his…What is Don Rickles like in person? Do you feel that at any point in the conversation that he could flip the switch and go right back to the insult comic thing?
CM: Don Rickles off stage is one of the most sweetest human beings on the planet. Could NOT have been kinder. But when he’s “Rickles” watch out. As I walked offstage after my set on the Showtime AllStars, he announced to the audience…..her’s sister’s a nun.
RM: Which episode of “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn did you appear on? What was that whole experience like for you and how did that show differ from other panel shows you’ve appeared on such as “Comics Unleashed”?
CM: I was on the show with Dom Irerra, Nick DiPaolo and Scott Thompson from “Kids in the Hall”. Tough Crowd was always a “whose dick is bigger” mentality with the comics. You have to be in the mood to play that game. I can hold my own with the boys (my dick is bigger than most male comics, truth be told) but I’m not a fan of bashing other comics for the sake of ratings. It was fun but I enjoyed Comics Unleashed way better. Byron Allen is a wonderful producer and he makes sure all the comics come off looking and sounding great. Byron messed up a setup question for me during the filming, stopped tape and re-shot it with the right question. He’s from the school of “Let’s make everyone look good, not just myself”. Which is a rare commodity today. If you watch old Johnny Carson Tonight Shows, you really get to see what a master Johnny was at that. It was ALWAYS about the guest, never about him.
RM: What’s the best part about doing standup comedy for a living? The worst?
CM: Best part? Letting people have some time off from their lives to just laugh and have a good time. The reason I loved going overseas for the troops was I knew how much these guys and gals needed a respite from their daily grind. The best part of those shows was actually hanging out with them after the show. They love to be able to talk to someone from the good ole USA. I still keep in touch with a bunch of them!
Worst part? The rejection. No matter how good you are, there’s gonna be nights onstage where you just eat it. In Jerry Seinfeld’s documentary “Comedian”, there’s a scene where he gets offstage after a particularly rough show and says to his friends in the green room, “How famous do you have to fucking be?” I love that line. It explains standup to it’s very core. Every comic will tell you they feel they’re not doing enough for their career. And that they only feel as good as their last killer show. That applies from the newbie to the veteran. We’re a messed up bunch.
RM: What’s up next for you in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
CM: I’m slowly trying to get off the road. I used to be gone 3 weeks out of the month. I am a road dog in my soul but times are a-changing and I just don’t have the drive anymore. I still do the same dozen clubs or so I always have. I don’t have the energy to play the “please book me” game anymore. Plus I shouldn’t have to. I have dozens of TV credits and my professionalism is pretty solid so when some 22 year old asks for a “tape” it’s hard for me not to just ground her.
My 2 big producing projects are with Rhonda Shear from Up All Nite. Rhonda took a respite from standup to become a fashion retail mogul. Her Ahh Bra sells millions all over the world. We reconnected on Facebook awhile ago and I kept asking her when she was bringing back “Rhonda Shear’s Pajama Party”. We had so much fun when we did it years ago and I wanted that experience again. No drama and no bullshit. Basically, we perform in our PJs. There’s video sketches, music, some dancing. It’s a fun variety show. There’s contests for best pajamas, swag give aways & guest stars. I wanted to do something different for the audience than the usual 3 comic show. This show is an event. Plus I get to hang out with one of my closest friends. We have slowly been taking the show to theaters around the country. I say slowly cause nothing ever goes fast in show business. Also with Rhonda, we are bringing Up All Nite back to late night television. We are starting locally in Florida and then hope to syndicate it in 2015.
I still work with a group of people that are developing their solo shows. I’m always looking for more clients. It’s one of the few things I really enjoy doing these days. Watching a comic develop the trust that not everything has to be a joke is priceless. I am also the voice of MOM on the animated web series “Damaged” and have small roles in the web series “Living In Exile” and “the 9th Step” I act any chance I get. It’s fun for me and because I’m a comic and used to rejection, auditions are a breeze. I would love to be the next Doris Roberts, the mom on Everyone Loves Raymond. And because I don’t like any down time at all, I manage my son who is a songwriter and musician. We just sold a song of his to a feature film and I am hoping to sell more in 2014. His music is here: http://thegreatamericannovel.bandcamp.com/
Official Website: http://www.carolemontgomery.com/
Carole on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolemontgomerycomedian
Carole on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nationalmom
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