Comic still on her feet
Aug 16, 2007 04:30 AM
Usually, when someone achieves sudden success within the comedy community, their leading role of "Most Back Talked Comic" is secured.
So when Toronto-based comic Debra DiGiovanni landed in the Top 10 of NBC's reality show Last Comic Standing, I waited for the "She's using my jokes"/ "It was rigged"/ "She's addicted to comedy enhancing drugs" lines to creep out of the green room.
Instead, in a case that I hope will set a precedent, (Debra DiGiovanni vs. Comedians' Insecurities), her peers were rooting for her. Unfortunately, millions of viewers' hearts broke last week as Debra was ousted in the closest Head to Head match (in which two comics compete for audience votes) in Last Comic Standing history.
In a fit of anger, I biked over to the St. Clair W. apartment of my fellow Video on Trial cast member to chat about the show, her future and old men with facial tattoos.
Sabrina Jalees: Okay, so tell me the show's rigged. How do you feel about the much-criticized "audience voting" method they use until reaching the Top 5?
Debra DiGiovanni: Before I say anything about that, the show is great for comedy. People are watching standup and it's helping bring comedy back, which is great. But once it develops into a more American Idol-type format, it'll be a better show.
SJ: Exactly, 'cause comedy is so subjective. How many people are in that studio audience that votes?
DG: Six hundred people, and the shows are all in L.A..
SJ: So 50 per cent of the votes are coming from silicone. A few episodes ago, the show had the comics heckling each other and I could tell you really didn't wanna do it.
DG: That was hard. None of us wanted to. First of all, we did that within the first 20 minutes of meeting each other. You've gotta basically make fun of someone's T-shirt or what they look like. The show loved it, though, because the audience loves it. It sends the wrong message out to audiences, though: "Heckling is funny. You make the show better!"
SJ: This insanely loud 95-year-old drunk man with shamrocks tattooed to his cheeks sat front row centre at my show last week at Wigamog and yelled through my entire set. Then he came up to me at the bar later and said, "Hey ... we did it! We had the whole room laughing!"
DG: "No – you made it frustrating and bad for everyone, you stupid old man!" I had to do an outdoor show a couple months ago and one of the security guards brought a megaphone and was about to heckle another comic. I ran over and put my hand on the megaphone and the guy's like, "Hey, you're no fun! You're ruining it."
SJ: You're ruining it?
DG: What a loser, huh? Like the highlight of his life is yelling into a megaphone – but I guess the highlight of mine is yelling into a microphone. Who's worse? Whatever, he was cutting into my time!
SJ: What's the plan with your time now?
DG: Through the show, I got an 0-1 visa. That means I can work in the U.S. for two years.
SJ: Which usually costs, like, $10,000 and years to get.
DG: Oh, yeah. So now the plan is my agent and I get on the phone and say, "Hi, I've got Debra from Last Comic Standing, you interested?"
SJ: Hopefully not you.
DG: Yeah, that wouldn't look so good. "I'm Debra from Last Comic Standing – take me!"
If Debra DiGiovanni were a stock, I'd be buying as many shares as I could afford.
My comedy sense tells me the next time I see her on stage, it'll be far from megaphone-toting security guards and I'll be sitting on a soft seat.