by Ryan Meehan
Giulia Rozzi is a comedian, actress and writer that was raised in Boston by two adorable Italian immigrants. Her very personal, blunt, and animated humor has earned her the honor of being a Moth GrandSLAM champion, a Boston Comedy Festival finalist, and a two-time ECNY Best Female Stand Up nominee. She is regularly seen on Vh1’s The Greatest and has appeared on Chelsea Lately, Playboy TV’s Foursome: Walk Of Shame, MTV, TLC, The Artie Lange Show, Italio MTV, and starred in the independent film Party Like It’s A Verb. Recently she taped an episode of Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, that will air this winter. She is an alum of both Improv Olympic West and the Upright Citizens Brigade improv programs and written and performed two solo shows: Stupid Foreigners and Bad Bride (which is currently touring the US and UK). Giulia also co-hosts the long running sex and relationship themed storytelling show Stripped Stories with Margot Leitman in venues all over the US. As a writer, Giulia worked on the MTV series Girl Code and Silent Library. She has also written for Playgirl, Esquire.com, BUST, NY Press, Glamour, XOJane, AOL, Lifetimetv, Hello Giggles, Gawker, Huffington Post, and more. Her essays appear in the books Mortified: Real Words Real People Real Pathetic (of which she was also an associate editor) and My Parents Were Awesome. Check out her bi-weekly show Dive Comedy with Brooke Van Poppelen at Freddy’s Backroom in Brooklyn and their web series Seeing Other People debuting in the fall of 2014. We are honored to have Giulia Rozzi as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: Which stereotype of Italian Americans do you hate the most? Why do you think that particular association bothers you so much?
GR: I guess that we are all like Jersey Shore guidos. A lot of Italian stereotypes are totally true (at least for me) -we are loud, frugal, guilty, anxious, judgmental, my mom has plastic on the sofa, we argue a lot, we eat a lot, my dad pays for most things in cash, etc. My parents were immigrants from Italy so I was raised very European, I was not raised in that cheesy “ey-oh” sorta-way. Don’t get me wrong I love cheetah print and gold, but no one in my family remotely resembles a character from ‘My Cousin Vinnie’.
RM: If you had to list the three comedians whose work influenced you more than any others, who would be on that list; and what was it about each of those individuals that made you want to write material of a humorous subject matter?
GR: Oh man, I hate this question because there are so many people that have influenced me. Margaret Cho was the first comedian that I was drawn to back in the day. She’s a bad-ass – I really related to her material about being from an ethnic family and about body image, it inspired to share my own experiences. I’m inspired by Mike Birbiglia and comics that tell personal stories, I want Bad Bride to follow the same path as Birbiglia’s solo show Sleep Walk With Me (if anyone reading can help me do that, let me know!) I’m influenced by Louis CK and his FX show, I really love comedy that’s dark, sad and makes you think. I’m in awe of Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, the folks that created High Maintenance – it’s one of my favorite web series, the characters are so real and rich, they have done amazing job creating quality independent content. Jim Gaffigan and his wife Jeannie inspire me, they are both so funny and two of the nicest people I have met in this business and I love how they work as a team, they reminds me that you can be successful and still be kind. Jill Soloway (not a comic per se although she used to perform) is one of my heroes- it started with The Real Life Brady Bunch (brilliant) then I loved her writing on Six Feet Under, then her book Tiny Ladies In Shiny Pants, then when I thought I couldn’t love her more she creates Transparent which is one of the absolute best programs ever. It’s smart, moving, funny and just perfect. I would love love love to work with Jill one day, she’s such a bright light. Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham – women that have really taken leadership roles in entertainment and are kicking ass in so many formats (TV, film, books, etc). Then of course are my comedy pals that may not be internationally known (yet) but are so smart and funny and great- there are too many to list (and I’ve already gone waaay over your “list three” request) but I feel incredibly fortunate to know so many solid funny folks that I believe in and love and admire.
RM: Of all the elements of comedy that attracted you to the art form; which one really spoke to you and gave you the confidence to believe you could excel at standup?
GR: The connection to other people. Laughter is one of the best ways to create a connection and to heal. I think sharing stories and crazy thoughts and feelings and fears and all that shit and then laughing at how fucked up we all are helps everyone feel less alone, that’s always been my goal in this art form- to make people (myself included) feel less alone. I think I’m really good at relating to other people even if their experience is different than mine. Because I’m so open on stage people then feel inspired to also be open, often after shows people want to “confess” things to me, they feel like I’m their new best friend and I love that. So that’s where the confidence comes from, I’m just up there being honest and vulnerable and silly with a room full of friends.
RM: What is the focus of your one-woman show “Bad Bride”? What does this show have to offer to people of both sexes; and how have the performances gone so far?
GR: It’s about doing what you think you should do instead of what you want to do. I share the story of how I got married when I knew I wasn’t ready. It explores marriage, monogamy, divorce, romantic love and perhaps most importantly, self love. It speaks to people in all phases of relationship – single, dating, married, divorced, etc, and really reiterates that no matter how many relationship articles you read, rom coms you see, bullshit reality dating shows you watch – there is no one-sized fits all advice or rules for relationships. No one knows what they’re doing, so just do what feels right for you.
RM: The show is directed by a woman named Brandy Barber…What do we need to know about her; and how would you best describe the working relationship that you two share?
GR: I cannot say enough good things about Brandy, she is an incredibly talented comedy writer and director. She did more than just direct the show, she really helped shape the piece, edit and add jokes, and really kept me honest and inspired as I went through the process of creating Bad Bride. As a director she had the advantage of being my friend while I was going through my engaged/married/divorced meltdown so she could fact-check my script and remind of things I forgot (aka blocked out).
RM: What’s the biggest difference between doing a one-woman show and performing a set of equal length on stage at a comedy club?
GR: With my one-woman show there are some sound and video cues so I can’t improvise as much as I could when I do stand-up because if I miss a cue, I mess up the entire show. When I do stand-up I can shift gears based on the vibe and reaction of the audience, I can’t do that with a scripted show. Also when I do stand-up the audience is expecting mostly jokes and funny stories, with a solo show it doesn’t have to all be jokes and funny stuff, I have the space to dig deeper and share some things that are sad or not laugh-out-loud punchlines.
RM: I have to know this…What was the idea you had for “Silent Library” that caused Snooki to lose her hotdogs? Were you in the room when this happened; and if so what does Snookivomit look like?
GR: This was the game that made Snooki vomit. The Jersey Shore cast requested a closed set for the shoot so I was sadly unable to witness that magical moment in person.
RM: As a female comic, how do you feel about the term “comedienne”? Is it necessary to have an entirely separate term that exists for the sole purpose of classifying comedians that just happen to be women?
GR: I don’t really have any feelings about it, I don’t think there needs to be a separate term.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
GR: I’m currently touring with Bad Bride, so far I’ve done the show in London, New Orleans, Austin, Boston, Los Angeles and New York and have more cities slated for 2015. My web series Seeing Other People seeingotherpeopleseries.com with comedian Brooke Van Poppelen will be out this year (it may be out by the time this is published) I’m super proud about that. I’ll be on an episode of Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening this winter, it’s doing to be great. And I have a bunch of other projects, pitches, ideas etc on the stove, I have no idea which ones will boil over in 2015 but I’m really excited about the possibilities ahead.
Official Website: http://www.giuliarozzi.com/
Giulia on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/giuliarozzi
Giulia on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GiuliaRozzi
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