by Ryan Meehan
High-energy, commanding, and versatile – but enough about her sex life. Kerri Louise can entertain any audience with her warmth and razor-edge wit. So it’s no wonder that Kerri was a regular correspondent on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Because of that, Kerri was asked to appear on the very first episode of Dr. Oz. Her performance on “Last Comic Standing” prompted the Women’s Entertainment Network to make her the star of their new reality show “Two Funny”. Her guest appearances include “Comics Unleashed”, “Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn”, “The Montel Show”, “Access Hollywood”, “The Apprentice”, among many others. These credits, plus her appearance in Marie Claire magazine, the NBO Comedy Festival, and the Aspen Comedy Festival have made Kerri quite the attraction, and she’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: Who is the first comedian you can remember seeing on television that really sparked your interest in the art form? What was it about what they were doing that was so intriguing to you at the time; and how long did it take you to realize the difference between a standup comedian and someone who is just trying to make others laugh?
KL: (First of all, these questions are much harder than the ones you gave my husband, Tom Cotter. I was going to cheat off him! Also, some of these are two part questions so that makes it more than seven questions. I only agreed to seven questions….I need to contact my agent!…I’m so happy & honored to be asked to do this!)
The first comedian I can remember seeing was Carol Burnett. She wasn’t so much a stand-up comic, but her variety show was outstanding. Although I loved all the sketches and character’s she did, my favorite part was the question and answer she did at the end. I guess because it was raw and like stand up even though I didn’t even know what stand up was at that time. Also because it was, as it seemed to me, off the top of her head and every question she answered was so funny and I thought she’s brilliant and amazing. That show and Three’s Company sparked my interest along with listening to Bill Cosby’s records. Later, I got into true stand-up comedy as I watched Rosie O’Donnell host Stand Up Spot Light on VH1. I remember seeing so many comics and that’s when I knew I wanted to do that. When I met and worked with the comics I saw on that show I was star stuck and blessed that I got to work with some of the greats. I started out in Boston, a real boys comedy club town. The audience and bookers made you work hard for laughs and because of that I knew pretty quickly who was a comic and who was trying to make people laugh. Boston doesn’t play around when it comes to comedy and that’s when I knew this was a great place to start.
RM: Could you briefly describe your first time being on stage and how it went? Which aspect of the whole experience completely threw you off of your game once you were a few minutes in? What was it that made you want to get back up there and keep doing it?
KL: The first time ever on stage I was in a beauty pageant and stand-up comedy was my talent. My sorority was running the event and needed contestants. I was not a beauty queen at all I was a heavy, bulky, short haired, field hockey player. I had my sorority letters shaved in the side of my head. I looked like a dyke and none of my friends who were lesbians hit on me which pissed me off, but that didn’t stop me because I wanted to try stand-up comedy and this was my way in. The dress and the bathing suit competition threw me off, but when I did my talent I knew that was my strength. I had to do 2 minutes and 30 seconds of material and it came easy to me because I would always entertain my field hockey team mates on the long bus ride home when we lost. I ended up winning! (ok there were only 4 contestants and the other 3 were guys) But still I won and I didn’t have a choice of weather I wanted to keep doing it because this was a preliminary to the State Pageant. The next thing I knew was I was in a competition with 14 JonBenet Ramsey types and fatty face me, competing to be in the MISS AMERICA CONTEST IN ATLANTIC CITY. My second time on stage I was in front of the whole state of New Hampshire and four beer belly judges. Needless to say I didn’t win, but I did get miss congeniality! Probably because of the fact that I made everybody laugh and that’s what made me want to keep doing it. If you can make 14 skinny, starving, pretty, bitchy girls laugh then you’ve got something.
RM: In your opinion, what’s the most over discussed source of material in standup comedy and why do you think that’s the case? Do you think it has something to do with comics always being in search of subject matter that’s too “close to the middle” as far as overall relatability goes? How have you been able to find your own voice in comedy without re-hashing bits that other performers have exhausted through the years?
KL: In my opinion I think sex is an over discussed source of material in standup because it’s very private, funny, personal, excoriated, and most importunely it’s universal. Yes, I think that it’s so relatable and for the most part always taboo and funny. That’s why comics do lots of jokes about that subject matter. Also if you’re just starting out and you’re a young male that’s all you think about so it’s hard to not write about it. When I first started out I was a bit more dirty and talked a lot about sex, boyfriends, parties stuff like that, because that’s what I was living at the time. (Well not so much the sex part in case my mother is reading this) Now, I have so much more to write about. I have so much more to my life and I’m so much older now to reflect on more content. That’s why I keep having kids – I keep running out of material. I believe that it’s the life experience you have, the experience you have on stage doing comedy, the creativity you have, and the ability to think out of the box is what will make you find your own voice in comedy. I pull my jokes from real experiences that have happened to me, and that, I believe, has helped me find jokes that are relatable without re-hashing exhausted bits people have seen before.
RM: I’ve talked with several people who’ve worked for Oprah, but never someone who has actually gotten to work with her as a correspondent such as you have…What was it like working with her; and what did kind of topics did you cover as a correspondent?
KL: I was there to provide levity to subject matters that were kind of edgy for the Oprah show, like sex. (Even Opera talks about the over discussed source of material we were just talking about) The first time I was on the show I was with 3 other very funny women comics who were friends of mine. She was introducing all of us to the audience and she messed up my name by calling me by my first name Kerri and then then next girl Louise. I was dumbfounded how can I interrupt Oprah (GOD) and tell her in front of a live studio audience that she was WRONG. However, I didn’t want to upset my friend Veronica now that everyone thinks her name is Louise. So I cleared my throat and said “Um excuse me, but my name is Kerri Louise and her name is Veronica. So she looked at her producers and rolled her eyes and tried to introduce us again. With the technology of TV they were able to edit it so no one knew that Oprah (GOD) made a mistake. However, when you look at the tape you think Oprah (GOD) hates me. Because she introduces the other girls with a smile on her face and when she gets to me she says my name like I’m nuisance, “We have in the studio today Karith, Laurie, Kerri LOUIEESSS and Veronica!”
RM: What is the focus of the “Mommy Minute” Webisodes? Do you think that you’d make a good advice columnist someday? And do you feel like the answer to the second question would be different if you had never had children?
KL: I do a Webisode for Mom’s who never get time to themselves! Who like me, are the ultimate multi-taskers that think of themselves last! Who hardly ever get an adult conversations, have adult fun, and God forbid get a chance to pamper their adult selves. So, it’s for moms who are about to go insane who are in need of a laugh to get them through the day. It’s also for me to be keep up with my writing and creativity. It helps me keep my face out there without leaving my children. I used to do a radio segment called mean mommy where I would give advice to listeners about motherhood and I do have a column in the Bay State Parents Magazine called “dirty Laundry” It’s like an advice column, but mostly I share stories of motherhood and what not…So yes, I think I would make an awesome advice columnist and I do NOT feel that If I did not have children it would be different because if I didn’t have kids I’d be a shopaholic and I could give you great advice on that too.
RM: How do you balance family and career when your husband is in the same business that you are – one which requires working a lot of weekends and being away from your family? How old are your kids and what would you imagine is their perception of what you do for a living?
KL: It’s so hard to balance family and career especially when my husband is working the same hours. I put a lot on the back burner because it is far more important to me that I bring my children up and that I’m there for them, then for me to get up on stage or have more money. I juggle as much as I can and I work really hard at trying to create a balance for everyone in this family. Doing the Mommy Minute Webisode was one of the ways that kept me in the loop while still being a stay at home mom. I used to work with latch key kids when I was young and I saw how sad those kids were and how little they saw their parents. I knew then that I wanted to have children and care for them myself. So far I’m so lucky to be able to do that. However, it does take sacrifices. I have to say no to a lot of gigs. When my husband gets a call to do a gig he says yes without a thought. I get a call I have to think…How far is the gig? Will I be able to get my children off the bus or do I need a babysitter and will she make more money than me? Will I get home so late that I will be a tired cranky mommy in the morning and forget to make their lunch? My twin boys are now 11 years old and my favorite one is now 6. Kidding, I don’t have a favorite child, but…if all my kids ran into the street at the same time I’d chase after that one first. I have no clue what their perception is of us. I think that they don’t really care too much. However, watching their Daddy on TV and having all their friends come up to them and say nice things was impressive to watch. I think that took their perception of what we do up a notch or two.
RM: Are you a fan of the term “comedienne” or do you think that it’s something that can be off-putting and in a way sexist because it demands a different term than your male counterparts within the same industry? In other words, do you think it’s necessary?
KL: I like the word comedienne. I don’t really care if you call me comic or comedienne. What does put me off in a sexist way is when people emphasize the words like “Oh we have a comediennnnnne coming to the stage” I hate that or even worse when people say “We have a woman coming to the stage”. I would rather be called comic, but if you said comedienne I would not be offended unless you had a smirk on your face – then I’d punch it. I think of it the same way they have the words actress and actor. The words don’t bother me, the way I’m being treated is what bothers me.
RM: How do you view Twitter when it comes to being a pallet by which to test out new material? Do you ever consider using tweets that get a lot of Retweets or Favorites in your live act? Conversely, do you ever wonder that you can’t use certain tweets for that purpose because people who are coming to see you live might be following you on Twitter and have already read the joke?
KL: What’s Twitter? I try not to use twitter to tweet my jokes too much because of that reason you just stated and also I hear lots of people are now taking to Twitter to get some ideas and steal jokes. I use twitter and Facebook to write what I’m doing in the moment. Like I’ll write…”I’m making chicken” and then I’ll take a picture of it. Somedays I check in with the exact address of where I am and say “I’m at the DSW shopping for shoes what do you think of these?”…and then I take a picture of the shoes. Then I pray no one comes and kidnaps me at that location. (I don’t do that) Basically I promote my webisode, the show’s I’m doing that weekend, and if something I feel is funny that day I will post it, tweet it, tag it, poke it or whatever they say in cyber space. I should do more on the internet, but I’m too busy cleaning bathrooms. I have three boys remember, 4 if you count Tom. Once I finally figure out how the whole thing works everyone goes running to a new site like Instagram & Vimeo. I can’t keep up.
RM: What’s up next for you in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
KL: I will be making chicken next month and coming this spring I’ll be going shopping for shoes!! Maybe a book or hopefully a TV show! Pray for me!
Official Website: http://www.kerrilouise.com/
Kerri on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kerri-Louise/116627815019441?ref=ts
Kerri on Twitter: https://twitter.com/komickerri
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