By Ryan Meehan
Selena Coppock is a standup comedian and storyteller based in New York City. She recently sold her debut book, THE NEW RULES FOR BLONDES, a collection of essays celebrating and subverting the blonde stereotype, to It Books (HarperCollins), for release March, 2013. Her writing has also been featured on McSweeney’s, the Collared Sheep, and Rock Bottom Stories. Selena’s storytelling abilities have been showcased at shows throughout New York and Boston, including RISK! (live and show and podcast), Stripped Stories, and, at The Moth Story Slam (where she tied for 1st place with her “After Hours” story in March 2011). Online, Selena has been seen on RooftopComedy.com, CollegeHumor.com, TheApiary.com, ComedySmack.com, PMSports.com, and in a web commercial for ShapeFX. She has also been featured in the Boston Globe, LA Weekly, Boston Metro, and the Boston Phoenix. She has trained at ImprovOlympic (Chicago), Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (NY), and ImprovAslyum (Boston) and has earned spots in a multitude of comedy festivals, including the Boston Comedy Festival, NY Comedy Contest, Detroit Comedy Festival, North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, Out of Bounds Festival, Ladies Are Funny Festival (Austin , TX), and the Women In Comedy Festival. And she’s our guest today in 5 Questions.
FOH: Did you get your start doing standup or comedy writing? What was your first experience on stage like? What was it about the experience that made you want to do it again?
SC: The first time I did standup was October 2004 at a little variety show in Boston. I had done improv throughout college and I took classes at ImprovOlympic (now called “IO”) in Chicago after college, but standup was a totally different animal for me. I had some beginner’s luck that first time, though, and I fell in love with standup. I loved (and still love) the solitary nature of standup. If you have a great set, it’s just you taking in the laughs and positive energy. If you eat shit up there, it’s all on you and you need to think about what went wrong. I did improv on different teams for so many years (in college and post-college) and I just kind of got sick of working with other people and having too many cooks in the kitchen. In standup, I’m the only cook-and I can make egg salad for every meal, if I want (note: I’m terrible at metaphors).
FOH: What’s the funniest thing about the upcoming 2012 Presidential election? Is it possible that it might not be as funny as a lot of people might think it is?
SC: I find Mitt Romney absolutely hilarious. He’s stiffer than John Kerry, which I didn’t think was possible. Every time he attempts to relate to the common man, he fails, to hilarious effect. When he went to that NASCAR race to try and rub elbows with hardworking Americans, but all he could say was that a lot of his friends own NASCAR teams? You can’t write dialogue for an out-of-touch Richie Rich character that is better than the stuff Romney comes up with on his own!
FOH: Your book “The New Rules for Blondes” is set for release in March of 2013, and is described as “a collection of essays celebrating and subverting the blonde stereotype”. Since it’s your first book, do you already feel nervous about it even though that’s eight months away? And what are some of the new rules for blondes?
SC: I’m already nervous, yes. It’s a mixture of nerves, excitement, and lots of balls in the air. But I’m genuinely fired up for people to read the book. Blondes are a hilarious bunch and I know that people of all hair colors will enjoy these essays. Some of the rules are informational and prescriptive, like the rule that you should know what you want at the colorist (so I share some hair color jargon). Others are funny explorations of pop culture and my life, such as the rule that every blonde should have a “blondetourage,” which is a posse of blonde friends. That word was coined on season 3 of the groundbreaking TV show, “Rock of Love” with Brett Michaels. In that chapter, explore pop culture examples of blondetourages plus I share some legendary stories from my own blondetourage: my platinum best pal Suzanne and me.
FOH: I see you worked with Kevin Allison, for his show “RISK!”. How did that come about and what was it like working with him?
SC: Kevin Allison is such a delight! I was really thrilled to perform in the live RISK! show at The PIT in NYC, plus then my story was included in his wildly popular RISK! podcast, which was fantastic. I got into storytelling a few years back because many of my standup pieces were true stories from my life, so I wanted to learn more about the storytelling format, specifically. I took storytelling classes at UCB with Margot Leitman and met so many amazing storytellers–that community is really dope. Once I knew more about the art form, I started attending Moth Story Slams regularly and doing storytelling shows and mics. I met Kevin through that and his RISK! team is wonderful.
FOH: This might be a stupid question, but how often are you mistaken for Jennifer Coolidge?
Oh wow I love Jennifer Coolidge! I’ve never been mistaken for her, actually. I’ve been mistaken for Paris Hilton and Angela from “The Office” and some lady named Sonja from The Real Housewives of NY, but never Stifler’s mother. I absolutely adore her career, though. She was in The Groundlings (in Los Angeles) and so is my older sister, Laurel. Jennifer Coolidge in all of Christopher Guest’s films and that crew of people are like comedy royalty. Plus, she’s a native of Massachusetts, which makes her rule even more 🙂
FOH: You also trained with Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, what exactly does that entail? And which one of the four original UCB members did you do the most training with?
SC: I didn’t have the honor of training with any of the original 4, but I have seen them do some amazing Assscat shows. I took sketch and storytelling classes at UCB and I had Chris Kula and Margot Leitman as teachers. Chris Kula moved to LA and wrote for “Community” and Margot Leitman just sold her first book. They’re both super hilarious and friendly–the perfect combination for teachers.
FOH: How does “Connotations” work? Is it purely a storytelling format?
SC: The show that I co-produce, Connotation, is a variety show–standup, storytelling, music, characters. It’s a great mix and every show is different. Plus we give out prizes (mostly South Park DVDs) and have free snacks. The show is every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at 8pm at McSwiggan’s (2nd Ave between 22/23rd Streets) and it’s always a lot of fun. I’ve been producing a show for a few years now and it’s such a great way to get plenty of stage time to workout new stuff.
FOH: What’s next for Selena Coppock in the twelve months to come? Any big plans?
SC: I’m finishing up rewrites for my book until late August. Then I’ll be promoting the book in the months leading up to publication, which is March 2013. I’m hoping to do a book tour once the book is out. I’ll travel around, do some standup and storytelling, sign my book, and toss my sick weave in any cities and towns that will have me. And in the meantime, I’m still running around doing standup and storytelling at night.
Wed Aug 8th, 8pm, free
Connotation at McSwiggan’s (2nd Ave between 22/23rd)
Saturday Aug 18, 8pm, $5
Pinstripe Comedy at Yankees Bar & Grill
(I’ll be representing the Red Sox, comedy-wise)
Wed Aug 22, 8pm, free
Connotation at McSwiggan’s (2nd Ave between 22/23rd)
Thursday Aug 23, 9:30pm, free
Comedy As a Second Language at Kabin Bar (2nd Ave by 5th Street)
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