Sarah Colonna is an accomplished entertainer, with two NY Times Bestsellers under her belt, numerous TV appearances and a thriving stand-up career. And, of course, she’s a popular favorite from her days at Chelsea Lately and After Lately. We got to chat with Sarah thanks to her recent headlining appearance as part of the Venetian’s Lipshtick series, which continues throughout the summer and features Lisa Lampanelli, Whitney Cummings, Sherri Shepherd, Carly Aquilino and Jamie Lee.
The Interrobang: What’s your comedy origin story?
Sarah Colonna: I grew up in Arkansas, they didn’t have any comedy clubs where I was at the time. But I studied theater in college and always thought I would move to LA and become a writer and comedian and act and everything else. I don’t know, I think ignorance is bliss, I just died and decided I’d figure it out when I got here. Eventually, I guess I did, but it took a long time.
The Interrobang: So, was there ever a time you thought you’d just stay in Arkansas? And if you had, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
Sarah Colonna: I mean, Arkansas is not a bad place, but every time I go there I just can’t picture myself living there. I don’t even know, I feel like I’d have 30 kids or something. There’s a lot of Tyson and Walmart jobs there.
The Interrobang: First of all, you have no accent whatsoever, but did you run into any Southern stereotypes?
Sarah Colonna: Yeah, I definitely had a really strong accent when I first moved here, I guess I just lost it over time. I have another friend who moved here and I think her accent got stronger! But it would sort of throw them off at first when I told people where I was from. Some people thought it was cute, but not that many.
The Interrobang: What’s your worst comedy condo experience?
Sarah Colonna: I have to say, I don’t actually have one! There’s this one city that I heard the condo is awful, but whenever I’ve gone, they put me in a hotel. But Denver has this beautiful condo and they make sure all remnants of the last comedian are scrubbed away when you get there, so it’s really nice, I’m lucky. I definitely stayed at some terrible hotels, one I had to keep my socks on in the shower. That was my first year of headlining and that’s how I learned to look up the hotel in advance. I’m not a snob about it, but you wanna be comfortable when your life is traveling every weekend.
The Interrobang: Do you have any rituals to feel at home on the road?
Sarah Colonna: I try to workout (doesn’t always happen), I try to get out and wander the city. I try not to just stay shut in my room all day because that makes me kind of depressed.
The Interrobang: Does TV vs stand-up vs writing a book feel like different muscles or all part of the same thing?
Sarah Colonna: No, it feels really different! Chelsea Lately was my first full time writing job and I don’t even know if I had any business having a writing job at that point, but luckily I was good at it and it was fun. But it was different because I was writing for her, and she’s someone I knew for a really long time so I sort of already knew her tone, but at the same time the writers were on the roundtable so you’d write for her and then you’d have to go write for yourself. It was kind of interesting to be pitching jokes for her and then thinking, “Oh, I should have saved that one for myself!” She was the priority obviously, so when you were on the show it was fun and challenging because then you had to come up with a whole different angle for yourself. And then writing books, you just have so much more time to tell a story. It was nice to be able to tell stories that weren’t just funny or were sad or a little weird.
The Interrobang: You must have some pretty rabid fans from Chelsea?
Sarah Colonna: The people who watch that show are so loyal! The show’s been off the air for a while now but they haven’t disappeared. It’s really cool. It’s usually a bunch of girls who drank too much and want me to go out after, but just because they watched Chelsea, they’re still strangers, I don’t even know if that’s safe! But they’re sweet.
The Interrobang: Since you’re part of the Lipshtick series, have you found there are different ways you have to market yourself in comedy as a woman?
Sarah Colonna: You know, it’s funny because nobody ever says “Here’s a comedy show that’s just guys!” It shouldn’t need to be referenced, it should just be whoever’s funniest, but I think about it because I usually have a woman open for me so I often ask for a male host. Starting out, I did a bunch of shows that were great, but marketed so heavily as just women that it could get frustrating. It takes some finesse. For this series, they just get so many really great people in, so you realize they’re doing a great job of that [kind of marketing] and, hello, look at the performers doing it. It’s all really strong headliners.