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Paolo: You write a bunch of jokes talking about your daughters. How do they feel about that, does it embarrass them at all or anything?
Linda: They make it so easy. For instance, a few weeks ago, I decided to clean my room and flip my mattress over. Lo and behold, I found wrist restraints tied on my iron headboard. Ummm- I live alone. I do not have a boyfriend. I have only seen wrist restraints in the porn pics I found on my ex’s computer.
At first, I was disgusted. Who does THAT in their Mom’s bed??? Then, I was jealous, because I have no life and apparently, one of them does. And a freaky one at that. No one has fessed up yet, but I will find out. And I will do a joke about it. FREAKS!
My girls (aged 24, 22 & 20) used to be embarrassed when I would do jokes about them, but it’s all real life stuff and it is funny. I also pay them if I use one of their premises, so they are always emailing me or texting me with stuff going on in their lives because they are poor college students and need money for beer and food. And leather.
Paolo: How did you get into comedy?
A few days after I turned 40, I was served with divorce papers, after 22 years of marriage. (yes, I was a child bride with a shot gun wedding) I figured I had 3 choices- I could kill him, sleep with his best friend, or do stand up. I thought doing stand up would be the least messy of the 3. I was wrong. I took a class in stand up comedy at my local Funnybone, and went on stage for the first time in March 2006, and won “The Funniest Person in Cincinnati” contest at Go Bananas Comedy Club that July.
I often wonder what would have happened if I had started doing comedy 15 years ago, but I don’t think I would have had the balls or the time to do it back then. I have way more life experience now, and I have a different view of the world and of myself than I did when I was in my 20′s and 30′s.
I’ve been through births & deaths. I’ve been a soccer mom, room mother, a corporate wife, a stay at home mom, a working mom, an ex-wife, girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, and Im (as of August 28) an 8 year breast cancer survivor. Im not the same girl. Im better because of those experiences, good and bad. And a lot of those experiences were hilarious, and if they weren’t, I tried to make them hilarious, just to cope. Even the cancer. And yes, my tits are fake & fabulous. Thank you cancer.
Paolo: Who are your comedic influences?
Before doing stand up, I had only been to a comedy club once, and that was in 1986. I didn’t even know who Mitch Hedburg or Doug Stanhope were. Most of my influences are comics I have seen perform in the past 2 1/2 years. I adore Robert Hawkins & Troy Baxley. They are hilarious goof balls with a side of schizophrenia, and I love that in a comic. So do I. Me too. I also love Robert Schimmel. I loved him before I had cancer, even more so since I relate to his experience. I love comics who aren’t afraid to show the world how weird they are, the ones who talk about the subjects that arent supposed to be funny, and I’m trying to do just that. Up until I started doing stand up, only a few close friends knew just how weird I am, and that I laugh about things that make most people cry.
Paolo: What was the absolute worst show you’ve ever had?
Probably the first time I featured. Let’s just say my head got a little too big for my hair, which is usually impossible. I got cocky. I didn’t go through my usual OCD rituals before the show (writing my set list over and over, running to the bathroom to poop every 5 minutes because of nerves, etc) I also wasn’t wearing my “lucky bracelet”, which I had never performed without. Right as I was being announced, I went to tap the bracelet 3 times ( which always assures a great set) and I realized I didn’t have it on my wrist. I was a mess. I forgot tags, I forgot jokes, and did 18 minutes instead of 25. When I got off the stage, the booker asked me what happened. I told her, and she gave me some great advice. “Linda- we all know you are a glorious fucked up mess. You need to embrace it, and not try and fix it- especially when you are working for me. Don’t leave home without your bracelet and never take Imodium before you work for me again.”
Oh, and once on my birthday, I got shitfaced and did a set at an open mic. I slurred. I think I even slobbered a little bit. When I got on stage, I said, “Give it up for that guy…who just fell”, because I couldn’t remember his name. It was kind of funny, because he did fall off the stage, but I would never forget someone’s name if I were sober. Then I sang. I emailed you guys the next morning to have the clip removed. Oh God, make it stop. I don’t even like thinking about that night. Now I never get shitfaced before or during a show. I wait til after the show, and pray to baby Jesus there’s no tape the next morning.
Paolo: So on top of being a comic, you also act and do voice over work. Which of the three do you find most rewarding, and why?
Being a comic is the most rewarding, and most difficult. The acting has actually hurt me. Ive been performing other people’s words for over 15 years. Im a copy robot of sorts. I can voice a commercial or on-hold message in my sleep. I know what character my clients want. Im usually cast as the sarcastic wife/mom (surprise) corporate bitch boss or teacher. Im also the voice for a GPS company & a computer company who supplies the voice for those annoying self check out cashier machines. “Do you have any coupons?” “Please place item in bag”, “Turn left, 200 feet”, and “Approaching destination” are my most famous lines. Voiceover gold! Told you I was a robot.
It was hard for me to “be myself” when I first started comedy. I had clients who would come to see me in comedy clubs, and would say I looked like I was doing a corporate video- I was too stiff- I was a caricature of myself. It took a while to get comfortable being myself on stage, because I was saying my own words, instead of someone else’s. Once I started getting more and more laughs for MY words, it got easier for me to be myself and quickly became the most rewarding part of being a comic.
My job as a voice over actor is awesome, because when Im traveling for comedy, all I have to do is find a studio in whatever city I am performing and record my weekly spots via phone patch, so I don’t miss out on session work.
Paolo: What can you tell me about Ohio State football? You seem like a fan. I don’t watch much (or any) college football, but my brother is a HUGE Cal fan though.
Linda: Don’t mess with the vest. OSU is going to kick some USC ass next week, with or without Beanie Wells.
Even though we have not won the “big games” the past few years, we still beat Michigan, and that’s the only game that counts. Fuck Michigan. Go Bucks!
And now, for a clip about her daughters! Thanks to Linda Gambino!