by Ryan Meehan
Haley Driscoll was raised in Denver and got her BFA in Theater from CU Boulder. She has studied and performed with Improv Olympic West, The Colorado Shakespeare Festival, featured in regional & national commercials, and co-hosts a relationship & love comedy podcast called, Empty Girlfriend. Haley has performed at the High Plains Comedy Festival, The Aspen Laff Fest, Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction, Too Much Fun!, Comedy Works and can be found performing throughout the Denver comedy scene until May when she’ll be relocating to Los Angeles. I am very excited to have Haley Driscoll as my guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What was the first comedic performance you saw which sparked your interest in the entertainment industry? Looking back on that moment, why do you think it had such a profound effect on the comic that you are today?
HD: When I was younger I was a big fan of Jim Carrey and Steve Martin, as well as Martin Short, Leslie Nelson and Kevin Kline. I loved their unabashed silliness, commitment to the bit & how energetic they were. I remember going to the movies with my dad to see Ace Venture & Naked Gun and laughing hysterically in elementary school. However, the first time I remember being really inspired by a performance was when I saw Jekyll & Hyde, the gothic-drama Musical at the Arvada Center Theater in Colorado when I was in Middle School. It wasn’t a comedy by any means, but I thought the lead actor from New York was mind-blowing & after seeing him pour his heart out on that stage I knew I wanted to be a performer in some capacity. I wanted to be able to hold people’s attention the way that he held mine. So from Middle School through my Junior year of college I was convinced that I wanted to be a Broadway theater actor. However, the more I did improv at Madcap Theater in Westminster throughout college & then eventually went to Improv Olympic West in Los Angeles to study after college, I realized that I wanted more freedom to choose what material I was putting out there. Also with more life experience I began appreciate the power of laughter more & more, so I started committing to the comedy path of entertainment.
RM: What percentage of your theater and improv training would you say that you are able to apply to your stand-up act? If an individual that you were friends with was looking to get into stand-up but refused to consider such training, what bullet points from your own schooling would you say that they would need to study on their own to train themselves to be a better comic?
HD: Stand-up is definitely a different creature than improv & theater in my experience. I’ve been doing improv for about 9 years and live theater acting for about 13 years and it’s made me incredibly comfortable being on stage and developing a strong stage presence which is VERY important for every type of performer. So that background made it easier for me to start doing stand-up about 2 and a half years ago. However, with stand-up you really need to have a good awareness of how to present your personality & opinions & unique sense of humor into your act, whereas with theater & improv you assume different characters. So it’s been difficult for me to find my stand-up voice on stage, a lot comedians don’t find it for years and years. I’ve found that because of my background I’m much more comfortable utilizing my acting and character work on stage than speaking in my own voice. But, there are stand-up comedians who do both, and over the past few years I’ve managed to work in both my silly character acting & funny voices & scene work into my set, but it still requires an amazing awareness of self, which I’m still working on. So I would definitely recommend performers of any type take improv, clases or join an improv group at some point because it enhances storytelling skills, acting skills, confidence on stage and team-work skills. It also gets you to think outside of the solo-performance box that stand-ups sometimes get caught in just by the nature of the game.
RM: You’re in the process of moving to Los Angeles at the moment, and your Facebook cover photo is of you flipping the bird to what I assume is a hearty portion of the Rocky Mountains…Should that lead us to believe there might be reasons other than that region being entertainment capital of the world which are causing you to relocate to the Thirty Mile Zone?
HD: No, I love Colorado with all my heart & it was incredibly difficult to leave my friends & family behind. Also Denver rules! And the Denver comedy scene is truly amazing. My cover photo is just for silly’s sake. I think flipping the bird to anyone or anything is just a pretty ridiculous thing to do. Especially to inanimate objects. Nope, I moved to LA so I could focus more on pursuing a career in film acting, possibly get more stand-up opportunities & do more improv comedy. It’s tough in Colorado to do comedy & acting full-time unless you’re willing to tour most of the time. Also I do love California, I have a lot of extended family out here & I’m not a fan of the snow.
RM: You host the “Empty Girlfriend” podcast with fellow comic Christie Buchele…Do you plan to continue doing that program when you’re in California? What do we need to know about Christie; and what can a single guy in his late thirties such as myself learn from listening to that podcast?
HD: We do plan on continuing the podcast! We have a few episodes compiled so I can get settled in LA before we proceed, but we plan on trying to resume the podcast kind of Skype-style but with legit podcast equipment. We still need to figure out the details, but yes Empty Girlfriend shall live on! Christie Buchele is a very funny Denver comedian and one of my best friends. We bring on comedians, musicians, activists, you name it and we talk about everything love, life, sex, comedy, you name it! I learn so much about all of our guest’s stories, advice & experience, so I feel like anyone listening can learn something new if you have an open mind.
RM: Back in March you did the “Good Heroin” show with Ron Lynch…How did you come to know the comedians that are involved with that project; and why do you think your particular type of comedy is a good fit when performed next to artists such as Dave Ross and Matt Ingbretson?
HD: I just know Dave Ross & Matt Ingbretson through doing stand-up comedy. They’ve toured around Colorado and they go to comedy festivals, so we came together through performing. So we’re friends & I think they’re funny & they think I’m funny, at least I think (haha) or at least funny enough to have me on their show.
RM: What is your take on the term “comedienne”? Do you think that it is an unnecessary classification for a female comic, or that the word can actually create a useful sense of differentiation between you and your male counterparts?
HD: I think it’s a little silly. I refer to female comics as comedians. But I wouldn’t be offended if someone called me a comedienne. I guess it’s like the difference between “Actor” and “Actress”, I don’t think there’s really a reason to get upset about it, it’s just a person’s preference.
RM: If you could bring any deceased comedian back to life, who would it be; and why do you think their brand of humor would be so appreciated by the individuals who encompass the current comedy landscape?
HD: I know he’s not technically a “comedian” but I’d bring back Leslie Neilsen, he was so amazing at being so serious and so silly at the same time. I think that humor is so important is our super serious, often pessimist, worried world.
RM: Which portion of the joke writing process would you say that you struggle with the most and why? Conversely, which aspect of the joke writing process would you say is your specialty? Why do you think you tend to excel at that particular aspect of the craft?
HD: I’d say I excel at physical humor, and the sillier the better because of my improv background. Like I said earlier, I’m still struggling to find my voice as a stand-up comedian on stage, so it’s difficult for me to write really opinionated angsty material, but I’m slowly but surely learning how to best express myself. I do a very silly impersonation of a Velociraptor going through the stages of grief that works almost every time as well as a very weird impersonation of evolution that gets a great response, so my main goal is just taking more risks to be as playful and weird onstage as I am offstage. It’s difficult to put it all out there, it’s a very vulnerable spot to put yourself in, but I’m getting more comfortable with it the more I do it.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
HD: So far I’m just getting comfortable in LA. Trying to find a place to live & an income and get familiar with the city. I will be at Flappers on May 9th at 8pm, but so far that’s all I have lined up. Wish me luck! Or don’t!
Haley on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/haleymd
Haley on Twitter: https://twitter.com/haleymdriscoll
Haley’s website: www.haleydriscoll.mixform.com
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