An AmericasComedy.Com Interview

So what’s a good Sicilian girl from Cleveland doing in Meadville Pennsylvania? Being a wife, mother, stand-up comedian and reality show star. That’s what.

A comedienne for over 16 years, many of you know Tammy Pescatelli as  one of the top five finalists in NBC’s Last Comic Standing’s Season 2 in 2004 and again in 2005 as LCS alumni in Season 3. Pescatelli learned her funny skills growing up in a large Italian household outside of Cleveland.

With the success and exposure from Last Comic Standing, Pescatelli has won a slew of new fans, solidifying her as one of the sharpest women in the comedy world. Pescatelli just won “Comedy Central’s 2010 Stand-Up Showdown,” and has appeared twice as a guest on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” She has also appeared on National Lampoons “Funny Money” and numerous appearances on the syndicated show “Comics Unleashed,” and was included in their “Best of the Best” worldwide top-selling DVD.

Pescatelli now balances her family and her growing career with a lot of laughs on WEtv’s new reality series, “A Stand up Mother.” Her show premieres on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 10 PM/9 Central.

Pescatelli and her husband moved from the city (LA) to the small town of Meadville, PA to raise their son. In 6 one hour episodes, the docu-series follows her life as she juggles a career as a stand-up comedienne, being a mother and a wife, and dealing with a large and funny extended family.

AmericasComedy.Com had an opportunity to talk to Pescatelli though she was a little late because she had to put her son, Luca down.

“When you say ‘you put him down,’ is  that in the taking a nap sense or in the Italian sense?” we asked.
(laughing)  “No, it’s naptime and you just have to take advantage of the quiet time when you can.”

So how did you end up going from Cleveland to Los Angeles to Meadville Pennsylvania?
“When I joke about my cousins in my act,  (10 boys and I’m the only girl), this is where we all lived. I remember it being a good time and a great childhood memory.

After Last Comic Standing, I was looking for a place to buy to just hang out and my brother got a coaching job here at the college and I said ‘ let’s just use this as a getaway place.’ The next thing you know, I’m married and pregnant and I decide Hollywood just isn’t going to work for the baby. So we came here [to Meadville] to stop over,  but by the time I had the baby, my parents and my other brother both lived here.”

Tell us a little bit about your experience at Last Comic Standing.
“Oh, it was a great experience. I’m still friends with Kathleen Madigan, ANT, Alonzo Bowden, John Heffron and the others from the show. As a matter of fact, both Kathleen and ANT did guest shots on my show. I was thrilled to be able to do that.  And Kathleen just spent the holidays with our family.”

Whose idea was it for your reality show?
“It was a pretty long process. I have a co-creator, Carla Kaufman-Sloan. She is an Emmy award winner for her TV game show called  ‘Street Smarts.’ While she had always been a fan of my act, she and I were living parallel lives. She got pregnant, her husband was a producer like mine, they married and she left Hollywood to raise a family, only they went to Florida.

When she heard my story, she just felt that ‘so many others are doing that and trying to still keep a balance.’ We were just of an age, that we were not ready to give up our careers yet.

So we came up with the idea and did the “March of the Networks.” We had a lot of interest but they weren’t sure what to do with us. One day, about six months later, we got a call from WEtv [Women's Entertainment TV Network]. It seems that our demo got hidden in someone’s desk drawer. When that person got let go, they found it when they were cleaning out the desk. They just popped it in and the whole office went crazy! We sold them the show a week later and three weeks after that we were filming.”

With all six episodes shot, are you hoping for a renewal?
“At best, I have the greatest home movies ever, but you have to be careful what you wish for. I always wanted my own TV show. I never knew I wanted it from my living room.’”

We once read that you decided to become a stand-up comic when you saw a woman comedian as a MC. Tell us about that epiphany.
“Well, I guess it’s basically like that. I always used to go to comedy clubs and would sneak in tapes [at home] because I wasn’t allowed to listen to Eddie Murphy, Rodney Dangerfield or Sam Kinison. My mom still cringes when she hears that but she had no idea.

I love stand-up, but it just never occurred to me because the women that I saw, I just couldn’t relate to. It wasn’t that they weren’t fantastic but, Joan Rivers was married with kids, exactly where I am now, but I couldn’t relate at the time. Roseanne was married with kids. I could never find anyone that I related to.

Then one day I went to a comedy club and this woman was working as the MC. She was a working comic and she wasn’t famous. I went, ‘Oh, my god, you don’t have to be famous to be a working comedian and you can be a woman,’ and I was just as funny as that girl. So, that’s how it all started.”

From that point, did you have to do do a lot of open mics and showcases? Was it a long trip to stardom?
“It was really simple. I did an open mic contest that was sponsored by radio station, they offered me the morning show on my very first day, so I went to morning radio as a sidekick and became a full-fledged co-host six months later. I made every mistake live on the air. Meanwhile, I was also doing open mics for those two years, and then became a house MC at a comedy club. I met so many  comedians that I started doing what you’re doing. I would bring them in on Friday, and interview them on the air. It was great for the radio but after two years I decided that this was not my goal so I quit the job at the radio station and went on the road. The first year I worked 38 weeks.”

Did you feel being a woman comedian helped or hindered your career?
“Well, for one thing, I made it a rule never to date another comic. Growing up with boys, I knew that if I dated one it would open the door to others saying stuff so I avoided it altogether. It was also very different 16 years ago. While all my friends were getting married, I was doing stand-up. The first baby shower I attended was my own.

I also never did “The Funny Women of Playboy,” when it was offered to me when I was 25 and my breasts were really high.  I  should have, because I would love to have some photographic evidence that they were that high.”

But, I never wrote my act like a woman, I always tried to write it as a comic. People used to give me a bad time about talking about being an Italian, and I would get upset thinking ‘I could be writing about chick stuff,’ but then, I realized that I just needed to write about what’s funny.  (laughing) Now I am on the Women’s Entertainment Network.”

I’m very blessed. Joan Rivers and I are the first women comics, in five years to lead their own shows. The last female comedian to get a TV show, excluding Chelsea Handler, because her’s is a talk show, but the last female comedian to have her own sitcom/reality show is Sarah Silverman and that was 7 or 8 years ago.”

You are now a wife, mother, stand-up comedian, reality TV star, movie actress and hard-ass poker player. If you could only do one role for the rest of your life, what would your choice be?

“I can’t just say one, I’ll take the ‘wife and mother’ because they are one and the same to me. That’s what it’s it all about. But  as long as I am my husband’s wife and this kid’s mother, the comedy is going to come.

View this ‘sneak peek’ of Tammy Pescatelli’s new show:

Listen and buy Tammy Pescatelli’s hit CD: