Comedy is personal for Carla Collins
May 5, 2015
Actress, TV host and author Carla Collins loved comedy as a child.
She watched Mel Brooks films with her family and laughed at the Marx Brothers.
"I was far too young to watch Mel Brooks movies, but I did and that was a big part of my life," Collins said during a telephone interview from her house in Malibu, California. "I also loved the old-school comedies and, I will probably lose my Girls’ Club membership card for this, but I also loved the Three Stooges."
Even today, Collins loves all types of comedy and that’s why she does it.
"It’s a pretty cheap high and it’s legal," Collins said.
Park City will have the opportunity to see Collins in action when she and Bobby Tessel perform at the Egyptian Theatre on Friday and Saturday, May 8 and 9.
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Collins, who was also named 2015 Comedian of the Year by the Southern California Motion Picture Council, said her material is a heightened version of herself.
"Some people do an entire character or they invent a persona, but I don’t think I’m that good an actress to do that," Collins said. "I mean, I’ve done some characters, and they’re a lot of fun. But I think what I do is a combination of those characters and who I am.
"I think I come from a funny family and I’m pretty sure I was a ham growing up," she said. "I started dance lessons at 2, because I’m a hyper person. I still am. I’m usually shaking like a Chihuahua on meth after an energy drink."
Collins considers her whole life up for grabs when it comes to her show.
"I’m probably an oversharer," she said, laughing. "I’m a regular panelist on a show in Canada called ‘Too Much Information’ and they put me on that more than any other panelist."
She can speak of this because she is currently doing what she calls an "extraordinarily personal show" called "50 Shades of Grief."
"My mom passed away unexpectedly last year," Collins explained. "We were soul mates and best friends. She came to all of my shows and actually opened for me during the last year.
"Because I’m a big fan of dark humor, it’s very slimming, I do a big show about death," she said. "You know, people say the most ridiculous things when someone dies and they don’t mean to."
The idea for the show had two elements, according to Collins.
"First of all, we’re funny as humans and death is a taboo subject," she said. "Secondly, when mom died, I just couldn’t do a joke about the Kardashians."
A couple of nights after her mother died, Collins still had shows to do.
"Someone said I should do my regular Friday night show and Scott Thompson from ‘Kids in the Hall’ called and said, ‘Trust us. Go up and do it. If you can’t continue, one of us will go up for you," Collins said.
So, Collins got up and talked about the events of the week and found that things really were funny.
"First, the funeral director hit on me," she said. "Not to brag, but I am sexual catnip for men older than 90. While I didn’t notice at the time, my brother was like, ‘What the ?’" The shows were really personal, but very therapeutic.
"It was the only relief I got at the time because I was focused on making people laugh," Collins said. "I do feel like this is a great tribute to my mom. I know she’d love it, but there were times when I would phone my husband and say, ‘What am I doing?’"
Collins’ on-and-off affair with a comedy career started out of college.
"The problem was I didn’t have the thick skin for it," she said. "I was on TV at the time and apparently I didn’t look like what a comedian should look like to my critics."
She took a break from comedy to work on her TV and radio appearances.
"It wasn’t until four years ago that I went back into comedy full-time," Collins said. "I mean, I had jumped up on stage a couple of times a year or hosted some things, but I think I’m at the point right now where I don’t care what people think."
She also learned to control her nerves.
"It would take so much out of me if I knew I was booked for a comedy show and I wouldn’t eat for three days," Collins said. "Now, I would jump up and do 45 minutes of comedy at a garage sale.
"So, I’ve learned that we all tend to migrate back to our passions, in spite of our attempts to become stable and have money and security," she said with a laugh. "I just thought it would be fun to give up love, money and universal healthcare when I can do comedy. I mean all that is for little girls. I’m a woman now.
However, there are still times when people will tell her she doesn’t look the part.
"Even at customs the other day on the way to Canada, I was asked what I was going to do there, and I told the official I was doing some comedy shows," Collins said. "He said, ‘Well, you don’t look like a comedian.’ And I said, ‘So, what does a comedian look like?’
"I’ve never understood the expression ‘female comedian,’ because I’ve always felt that the ‘female’ should be silent," she said. "A comedian, first and foremost, should be authentic and funny."
"I, myself, think I look like a cartoon and pretty funny looking. So I don’t know what the issue is," Collins quipped,
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present stand-up comedians Carla Collins and Bobby Tessel on Friday and Saturday, May 8-9, at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $19 to $29 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.