Loni Love Talks Mel Gibson, Arsenio Hall, and Chelsea Handler

Whether you've seen her on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Chelsea Lately, or VH1's oddly addictive I Love the '70s/'80s/'90s series, comedian Loni Love has been part of your pop culture channel surfing. And Love's signature, smart-ass stand-up recently landed her a one-hour Comedy Central special called America's Sister, not to mention a spot on Variety's list of "10 Comics to Watch." Tonight, Ms. Loni Love will take her talents to the Miami Improv. We recently talked with Love who told us how she switched from being an engineer to a comic, why fat people should eat vegetarians, and why Chelsea Handler is the shit

New Times: Describe Loni Love in one sentence.
Loni Love: A funny chocolate bunny that likes to entertain people...and drink brown liquor.


How would you describe your comedic style?

I like talking about things that are happening in the news, pop culture,

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and I also talk about relationships. I think what people get from me is

I am real. I like talking about real stuff and cutting through all the

fluff and getting to the real situation - that's where the joke is. 

When you come to my live show, you never know what may happen.  There

could be something that is happening today in the news that I'll start

talking about, I never have something set that I talk about.  It could

be about Mel Gibson doing a racist rant. I'm going to talk about it.  I

am not afraid to talk about it whereas some comedians have a set thing

that they do and they don't talk about situations. 


You have made jokes that you love the person who created buffets and would even eat a vegetarian - is that still the case?  

The vegetarians are a little mad at me because I said all the fat people

should eat them. Of course I love all people, and I found a lot of

vegetarians have a really good sense of humor. So they get it, and we

all get along.

Before making people laugh for a living, you were an engineer. What made you make the switch to this career?

I really didn't want a traditional lifestyle. I started doing comedy

when I was in college and I didn't think I would be a professional at it

so I went ahead and got my degree. But I found when I was an engineer, I

was still acting like a comic.  I decided to pursue it a little

further.  Plus, there weren't a lot of women, and still aren't a lot of

women, that do comedy. I just felt like there needed to be more females

in this field, and I thought if I'm going to do it I better do it now.

Did you grow up wanting to be a comedian?

No, it was all by chance that I started doing stand-up. I was in

college, I needed the money and I won a contest at a local bar and

that's when it hit me that people get paid to stand up and tell funny

stories. I started doing that to supplement my career, and it wasn't

until I went to The Comedy Store in L.A. one night that I only saw one

female on stage - there was a bunch of guys and only one female so I was

trying to get back into this.  There are so many mouths that need to be

fed.  It was not just because I was a female, but the representation

was lacking, and that's what really got me into it.

When was it you knew you had "made it"?

I still don't think I've technically "made it."  I think where I get my

gratitude from is that when I go to a club, the club owners notice the

different types of people that come out to see me.  It's more so that I

am grateful because I believe people are listening to me and they're

enjoying me and that makes me want to work harder for all my fans and

friends that come to support me.  That's more important and humbling to

me.  I'm not in this to be a big star. I really just want to entertain

people. And right now, I know a lot of people are hurting and

suffering.  We have a bad economy, things aren't going the way some

people want, and people need to laugh right now.  That's why I try and

do whatever I can to help people - if it is just an hour or 30 minutes

for them to forget about their problems, that's what I am more concerned

about than fame or fortune.

Have any gigs that particularly stand out?

What really got me started was Star Search, when Arsenio Hall was

hosting it, and that's what really got me into the television field. 

That actually started all of the television gigs that people see me on

today.  A lot of people think it just started with Chelsea (Lately) but

I was doing jokes on VH1 for a long time, I was doing a Nickelodeon

show. I've been doing this for a while, and I enjoy doing it.  

You had a pretty big battle on the finals on Star Search and ended up losing, but that rarely seems to matter with these shows...

Yeah, it was a really big deal. It's funny because I tell people it was

the exposure that mattered more than wining the actual contest, because I

didn't win the contest.  It's true, when you are in the big finals you

think "Oh yeah, I want to win" but in the end sometimes you don't

remember the winner, but you remember that person that came close to

wining.  That's my story too. If you have true talent, it's going to

come through.

So what is it like working with Chelsea Handler?

Working with Chelsea is fabulous. It's quick; it's fun. She is a doll to

work with.  She and I have chemistry that I think a lot of people love

because we are always joking with each other, talking about each other

but then there is a mutual respect that I love supporting her show.  The

important thing is what she is doing for stand-up; she is giving the

exposure back.  I mean, people are coming back to the clubs because of

her - not a lot of comedians would share the stage the way she shares

the stage with comics.  That's why I will continue to support her and

her show, because she lets us come on, she gives us gigs, and people are

coming back to the clubs because of that.  Nobody else is doing that. 

You have late night shows that maybe put on a comic once every three

months for stand-up, but her show actually shows what happens when you

put comedians together and its piqued the interest of America, and now

even worldwide. I have people form all over the world that know me

because of her show, so really I give big props to Chelsea...who I call

"Lushy."

Love performs tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the Miami Improv (3390 Mary St., Miami) with performances through Sunday. Tickets cost $15, plus the Improv's usual two-drink minimum. Call 305-441-8200 or visit miamiimprov.com.

--Liz Newman


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