By Ryan Meehan
Liz Miele made her debut in the New York comedy scene as a determined and precocious 16 year old. By 18 she was turning heads with a profile in the humor issue of The New Yorker Magazine. Now a “veteran” at 28, Liz is a regular at the best clubs in the city including Caroline’s, Gotham and Stand-up NY. She tackles such topics as inter-racial dating, fear of walking home alone, and mental illness in her family with a sarcastic wit and youthful charm. She was recently featured on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham. She also writes and co-stars in a weekly web series with fellow comic and FOH alumnus Carmen Lynch called, “Apt C3” (www.AptC3.com) and created and writes an animated web series about broken robots adopted by humans called, “Damaged”. And she was also cool enough to be our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: As a child growing up in Pennington, New Jersey who were some of the performers and television stars that you really found to be a comedic inspiration? Have you met some of these individuals now that you are on stage and working the clubs a lot? Any good stories from those experiences?
LM: I of course loved the greats Pryor, Carlin, Cosby, Rock, Chappelle but as a teenager I was obsessed with Comedy Central. So I’d tape every Premium Blend and Half Hour Presents of comics I loved. I loved Wanda Skyes, Jim Gaffigan, Jimmy Dore, Jeremy Holtz, Dwayne Perkins, Kathleen Madigan, Ted Alexandro, Nick Swardson, Sue Murphy, Greg Giraldo, Bill Burr, DC Benny, Paula Poundstone, Louis CK…The list goes on forever. So when I started doing stand-up in NY I started seeing them around, then as I got passed at clubs performing with them on shows and now years later many have become good friends. Ted Alexandro plays the Dad in my animated web series, Damaged.
When I was 19 I got passed at the Comic Strip Live (my headshot when I was 18 is still on their wall) and Louis CK followed my set. This was 10 years ago when he was just big in the comedy community and I remember being so excited when I went to sign for my money because his name was next to mine and it was a Monday night and we were both making $25. I thought that was so cool. Only when I was walking home did I realize how depressing that was that Louis CK, who had been doing it 15 years longer then me was making the same money. I talked to and met George Carlin on a few occasions before he died. I’ve talked about it before but I wrote him a letter when I was 15 and he called me and from then on I kept in touch until with him he died. Incredible experience with an incredible person. I really wanna meet Wanda Sykes. She’s my favorite!
RM: What do you think is the biggest mistake that younger comics make when they first get started doing standup?
LM: Trying to get noticed to early. We all get into comedy for the a lot of wrong reasons. We were ignored, felt invisible, want attention, want to be validated, etc… but if you really love comedy and wanna be good at it even people that are naturals need some incubating time. You need to do the open mics and bar shows and take the time to really hone your craft before you start auditioning for clubs and festivals and whatnot. A) because if people feel you are not ready you will make it hard for them to shake that first impression and give you another chance even when you are “ready” and B) the best part about being invisible is peoples low expectations and the ability to take risks. When you are being paid, when you have to carry a show you have a responsibility to the audience and club and its harder to be open, do new stuff and do different types of comedy with that pressure. The best time to grow and learn is when no one cares if you fail. Consider your invisibility a blessing and not a thing you quickly wanna shed.
RM: What has being a cat owner taught you about life? How have you been able to apply those lessons you’ve learned to the world of standup comedy? Can Pasta type something for us?
LM: In cat speak…It doesn’t matter how much you love your cat and treat it well if you don’t feed it they don’t really love you. In show business speak: It doesn’t matter how good you are if you don’t make money for people they don’t really care about you. slgnlS>lmbs.mfbd,mbv,m <—That’s Pasta laying on the computer….she totally agrees.
RM: What do you consider to be your “home club” in New York and its surrounding areas? What is it about that place that gives you that heightened sense of comfort?
LM: Caroline’s is probably my home club. It changed over the years. It’s really whoever books me. ha ha ha But Caroline’s has used me the most over the last 5 years. I’ve known the bookers since I was a teenager, all the staff is super nice. Caroline herself is good to me and always thinks of me when other projects come her way. Linda Smith has been one of the most supportive people in my career and someone I always look forward to seeing and is always so encouraging and understanding (all rare in this business). Its sounds weird but I think the fact that Caroline’s is expensive makes it a good club. Hear me out. A lot of clubs give big discounts, do groupons, etc. and people go because its cheap. But when u go and it’s a lot of money you are going cause you love comedy or you love that performer it’s that dedication and passion that creates a good audience. People that go cause it’s something to do weirdly have misguided expectations and have one foot emotionally out the door. I’m not saying comedy has to be expensive to be good. I do a ton of free shows for great audiences. But willing, exciting audiences are the best to perform for. I don’t wanna be your “I guess we’ll go see a comedy show” choice for the night. I want people excited to be there.
RM: What can you tell us about the Miele Sisters Variety show? How long have you and Emily been performing together?
LM: I started The Miele Sisters’ Variety Show in July 2013 as an outlet for my younger sister, Emily. She had just graduated from The New School for Jazz and was getting a few gigs here and there but not a lot and she was starting to write more original songs and I wanted to help her get up and some exposure. I thought it could be a fun thing to do together. I thought it would be cool to do a variety show cause I know a lot of comics and magicians (My best friend from college is a brilliant magician, Prakash Puru) and Emily knows a lot of musicians. We’ve only done 5 so far but we’ve been bless with good audiences and fun shows. I’ve had Emily open for me a few times at some headlining gigs and I also asked her to write the theme song to my animated web series, Damaged. (We get more comments from people saying how much they love her song then about the actual episodes! ha ha ha)
RM: Where did you get the idea do to your animated series “Damaged”? Who works with you on that project and what’s the coolest thing about doing that whole thing?
LM: I got the idea a few years ago when I was going through a bad break up and felt really broken and thrown away and kind of shut down emotionally and at that time I had a part time job watching a kid after school who was adopted and I started thinking of myself as a robot and how it must feel to connect with people that don’t get you. So my show is about two broken robots that are adopted by humans. I’ve always loved cartoons and robots so my loves are coming together!
Original character design was by Adam Record, an amazing children’s book illustrator and my original animators for episodes 1-6 were Ben Luce and Grant Lindahl but they both got big projects and had to leave. Episode 7 was animated by Tyler Naugle and my new animators have done episode 8 and will finish out the season and they are Michael Nanna and Ingrida Pleiryte. Then the voice over cast some amazing comedians and actors I know including Ted Alexandro, Carole Montogomery, RG Daniels, DC Benny, Dean Edwards, Jermaine Fowler, Carmen Lynch, Adrienne Iapalucci, TJ Del Reno, Corey Reppond, Fred Seibert, Maz Jobrani, Keith Malley, Chemda Khalili, Lauren Hennessy, Rob Cantrell, W. Tre Davis, Joe Machi and me!
Honestly, just seeing my idea and scripts come to life is super cool. I love inventing this world where robots are just like everyone else and how that plays out. It’s a kids show so I’ve gotten a lot of fans and friends telling me how much they love the show and it blows me away. My friend told me her son has been going around the house saying “I pee orange juice” which is from episode 2. That kills me. It always feels good when you make something people enjoy.
RM: It says on your website that you have “an unhealthy love for all things sweet”. But you look like you’re in crazy good shape…Other than the running what kind of workout regimen do you stick to in order to maintain such a great physique and still eat truffles?
LM: Ha ha ha….I have an old joke that goes “I got into running cause I wanted to lose weight but still eat junk food but now years later i run twice as much and eat really healthy…it feels like i lost sight of my goals” Up until this summer I was mostly just running a lot. I’d run 3-4 days a week and train to do a marathon usually in the fall. I’ve run 11 marathons so far. This summer I borrowed my mom’s bike and started biking in the park with my brother a few days a week and because of injuries over the years I started doing yoga once a week. Then a month ago I started doing Crossfit with my brother. So I do a lot. I like being active and running really calms me down and I like being able to eat cookies whenever 🙂
RM: What’s up next for you in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
LM: I have four more episodes of Damaged coming out. Season ends in April. Wanna try to do a second season as well as an animated music video of my sisters song. I recorded a CD last winter but the audio got messed up so I hope to re-record this spring. I’m doing shows in London in March and just touring and writing and finishing up some other scripts.
Official Website: http://lizmiele.com/
Liz on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizmielecomedy
Liz on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lizmiele
Damaged Official Website: www.DamagedWebseries.com
Miele Sisters on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMieleSisters
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