Comedienne behaving badly
February 26, 2010
Fans of Jay Leno, "Girls Behaving Badly," and entertainment clip shows on E! and VH1 might recognize the latest comedienne to grace the Egyptian Theatre stage.
On Friday and Saturday, March 5-6, local comic Kathleen McCann will resume her role as emcee for another night of sidesplitting laughs with feature Steve Young and headliner Kira Soltanovich.
Soltanovich hails from L.A. and has built her brand as a stand-up comic, actor and writer over the past 12 years.
One of her ongoing projects is playing the voice of the Phony Photo Booth on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "The Jay Leno Show." "It’s one of my favorite things to do," she says. "I can’t believe I get paid to mess with people."
The sketch features unassuming members of the general public who enter a photo booth to have their picture taken for free. The photo booth talks, and, as you can imagine, sometimes says surprising things.
Soltanovich honed her hidden camera skills as a series regular for four seasons of Oxygen network show "Girls Behaving Badly," an unscripted show that features women playing pranks on unsuspecting victims. The show is no longer being filmed, but "It’ll be in syndication until 2035 or something like that," she says. "I’ll be in my eighties and it’ll still be on."
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Soltanovich also recently filmed a half-hour special for Showtime that will air this spring and says she has several other confidential projects in the works. When she’s not in front of the camera (or behind the hidden camera), she takes her stand-up on the road.
She’s performed in comedy clubs and colleges across the country and has toured the world entertaining the troops, but like most comedians, she started out at open mic nights.
"I’d hang out in these sad, depressing, disgusting, filthy rooms and go on stage at like 2 in the morning and perform in front of a homeless guy who’s wearing a clown wig," she says. "That was my life for the two first years of stand-up."
However, she feels that practicing in hole-in-the-wall clubs and bowling alleys in East L.A. prepared her for the big leagues. "It’s really just paying your dues. I think every stand-up comedian has to have a certain number of hours behind a microphone before you’re ready, and even then you’re not really ready."
The crux of her stand-up routine is improvisation. "One of the things about my stand-up is it can never be the same show twice," she says. "My goal is to be able to go on stage for an hour and not do any jokes, just improvise with the audience."
That means that audience members should be prepared to get called out on their actions, their outfits, and their general demeanor. "I really work the audience," she says. "The audience is going to be much more interesting than anything I’ve written down and rehearsed and done a million times."
When she does have to pull out the jokes, one go-to subject is her parents, who are Russian immigrants. She was born in the former Soviet Union and raised in San Francisco.
"My parents did not sneak out of Russia in the mid-70s so that I could tell potty jokes on stage," she says. "They never really fully understand what in the world I’m doing."
She recalls her dad’s reaction to a sketch she did that involved breastfeeding in public with a prosthetic breast. Her dad called wondering why she was on TV with her breasts hanging out. "I was like, Pop, don’t worry, ‘I have prosthetic boobs,’ and he was like, ‘What is wrong with your real boobs!?"
The talk of nudity brings Soltanovich to the requisite interview question for comedians: her rating on a scale of G to X.
After joking about being XXX-rated, she says, "I’m not for the faint of heart. I don’t swear unnecessarily, I’m not racist or politically incorrect, but I walk the line, I’m edgy. I think most people who have a good sense of humor and want to go out and have a good time and have a laugh are really going to appreciate the show."
Soltanovich performed at Utah State University in Logan last month, but she’s never been to Park City. "I’m looking forward to my gig there," she says, and then jokes, "And I’m excited to be the only Jew there, that’s going to be fun for me."
Los Angeles-based comic Steve Young (no, not the NFL quarterback) will open for Soltanovich.
The shows start at 8:30 p.m. and doors open at 8. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door, and $25 for cabaret seating. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com or call 649-9371.