Comedian Cory Kahaney On Chelsea Handler's Snubs, Women in Comedy, and Being a J.A.P.
If there is one area that seems more vagina-friendly than ever these days, it's comedy; Cameron Diaz agreed when we interviewed her. Just take a look at the biggest ladies of the moment: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristin Wiig -- strong, talented, respected women whose success has them rolling in cash.
But apparently other people in the comedy field don't agree with Diaz's assessment. Fellow comedian Cory Kahaney is one of those people.
If you are a fan of late night television, you have definitely heard of Kahaney. She has been featured everywhere from The Joy Behar Show to the Late Show with David Letterman. She has been on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson over five times. Maybe you have also loved and/or hated her famous off-Broadway hit, The J.A.P. Show. Lucky for us, she will be at the Dave and Mary Alper JCC with Mah Jongg Face, a multi-media romp brought to life through a collection of storytellers, videos and songs of how Mah Jongg has touched our lives.
So before she headed down to Miami, we chatted with her about everything from her career so far to why Chelsea Handler refuses to have her on her show.
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New Times: Tell me about your upcoming performance in South Florida. What can fans expect?
Kahaney: Mah Jongg Face is a review celebrating Mah Jongg. In the show, I am a featured storyteller. My piece is called a "Tale of Two Mahjong Games." One is on the West Coast and one is on the East Coast. The West coast game includes my ex-mother in law and the East Coast game is a group of women who all adopted children through JAFCO (Jewish Adoption Foster Care Options) in the Coral Springs area of Florida. I talk about how both their games touched my life. For me, this is a departure from what I typically do, which is stand-up comedy. I think the audiences who know my work will be both surprised and delighted to see that there's more to me than just jokes.
Will it be anything like your off-Broadway hit, The J.A.P. Show?
Only that it is a collaboration of a lot of women. The J.A.P. Show paid homage to Jewish female comedians who paved the way for me. Mah Jongg Face is a raucous celebration of Mah Jongg.
Did you get any flack from the Jewish community for that title?
Yes! So much that when we played outside of New York City it was called The Princesses of Comedy, and the "I" in princesses was delicately dotted with the Star of David.
How did you get into comedy?
I was working in catering. I was known as the funniest woman in food service. However, no one was looking for the funniest woman in food service. It wasn't exactly an asset.
It seems like a great time to be a woman in comedy.
Well, if you say so. The way I see it the economy has taken a toll on both the number of jobs there are and what we earn, and both genders have felt the hit.
Who are a few of your favorite female comics?
I love Michele Balan & Marian Grodin.... I love Adrianne Tolsch, Susannah Perlman and Dana Eagle because we're all doing Mah Jongg Face together. Joy Behar really influenced me. Susie Essman mentored me. Sarah Silverman makes me laugh.
What has been your favorite TV stand-up you have ever done?
Letterman. Nothing else compares.
You have met just about everyone. Who is the coolest late night host?
Chelsea Handler. I say that even though she won't have me on the show.
Wait -- why won't Chelsea have you on her show?
I think her interviews are great and her monologue is consistently funny. As for why she won't have me on.... beats me.
What is the best advice for being a comic that you have ever received?
Don't look at other people's success and wallow in envy. Just focus on your act getting funnier.
Any advice for aspiring comics?
If you don't absolutely have to do comedy, like comedy is your dialysis and you're kidneys will fail if you don't, then do something else. And if you can't do anything else its really simple: no less than five sets a week and put comedy ahead of everything else. Say goodbye to any semblance of a normal life. I hope you are funny, have a trust fund, and are under thirty.
Catch Mah Jongg Face Wednesday, Jan. 18, at Dave and Mary Alper JCC.
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