Lea DeLaria is Out to Laugh

2.4.2007

By Jeffrey Epstein

Lea DeLaria has starred on Broadway (On the Town), been featured in films (Edge of Seventeen), and recorded multiple jazz albums. But this dyke delight returns to her stand-up roots in the DVD release of Outlaugh! a comedy concert film of the first queer comedy festival in which she performs alongside such comics as Bob Smith, Sabrina Matthews, and Jason Stuart. We cornered DeLaria for a few questions.

Having performed live all across the country, what's the strangest fan encounter you've experienced?
There are so-o-o many. Girls showing up at my hotel rooms' But the winner hands-down is the guy who sent me a self-addressed stamped envelope containing a crumpled $5 bill, asking for a photo of my feet'yes, my feet.

You are pretty no-holds-barred in your comedy. Is there a subject you wouldn't touch?
Not really. I think that might possibly be why I have stirred up so much debate within even our own community. I have always thought my job was to make people think as well as be entertaining. Now, that's the thoughtful answer' The obvious joke answer is the only thing I won't touch is Laura Bush's pudendum.

Outlaugh! is the first queer comedy festival. In this day and age, why is a gay comedy festival important?
As we gain more and more rights we assimilate into the society surrounding us, so why go to P-town to hold hands when you can hold hands in Puerto Vallarta? Why go to a gay play downtown when Tony Kushner's on Broadway? Why go to a queer comedy festival when queer comics are on TV or a part of every comedy festival in the world? To freely express ourselves among ourselves and allow our own artists to grow with a sense of personal history. And, of course, to stick it to the breeders when they're not looking.

What do you think is the most common misperception about you?
That I'm Swedish.

Huh. We'd never have guessed. Is there a role on Broadway you'd love to play?
I'd love to do one that has been written for me. In lieu of that, I'd like to do a part that sings the big 11 o'clock number in the first act. I stop the show and then go out for pizza, returning in time for the closing bows and then I win a Tony.

You recently filmed the indie flick Fat Rose and Squeaky with Cicely Tyson and Louise Fletcher. What was it like to work with those legendary ladies?
Louise Fletcher is the most giving and honest scene partner. She was warm, generous, brilliant, and possibly the best learning-through-observation experience I have ever had' And what can you say about Miss Cicely Tyson'magnificent!

Who do you find funny?
Lenny Bruce, Lucy, Gilda Radner, Jackie Gleason, George Carlin, Paul Rudnick, the Sedaris siblings, Trey Parker, Catherine Tate, Matt Lucas, Angus Oblong, the Queens of Comedy, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sandra Bernhard, Scott Thompson, Larry David, Danny Kaye, and Bachman Turner Overdrive.

So' Just a couple. And I'm guessing Julie Brown, who you costar with in the indie flick Fat Rose and Squeaky, is on the list too.
The thing about Julie is she is just so funny. We were on a very low-budget film with this amazing director who would let us adlib and Julie would just ruin takes by saying the most hilarious shit. I'd look at Louise [Fletcher, who also stars in the movie] and her face would start to crack and then I was toast... 'Cut! Again please, ladies.'

So what else do you have coming up?
I am working with Rachel Sheinkin [Tony winner for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee] and Peter DuBois [associate producer at The Public Theater in New York] and [composer] Michael John LaChiusa on my show entitled Noisy Gong. I'm due to go into the studio to record my fourth record for Warner Jazz U.K. And somewhere in there I intend to get laid.

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