Two years ago, the mere suggestion that she would simultaneously be executive producing network sitcoms — and starring in one of them — would have probably gotten a bigger laugh than any of Whitney Cummings’ stand-up material.
Heck, two years ago Cummings was just trying to figure out how to survive her Atlantic City debut. “I came in and did some gig in a restaurant where there was no stage and I kept bumping into people,” she tells AC Weekly, either selectively or subconsciously blocking out most of the memory “It was a very weird gig,” she says.
What a difference two years — and shows like Whitney on NBC and 2 Broke Girls on CBS — makes. Were it not for those two series, and some well-timed appearances doing her coarse stand-up on everything from The Tonight Show to Comedy Central’s roast of Donald Trump, Cummings might still be looking at a one-night-stand-up gig in a restaurant. Instead, she’s headlining Friday, May 11, in the 2,100-seat Tropicana Showroom, which will essentially be her true Boardwalk debut.
“I’m excited to be doing it right this time,” she says with a laugh.
Cummings may still be four months shy of her 30th birthday, but she’s already packed a lot of experience into her relatively short time on the comedy circuit and in television.
In between communications and film courses at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated in just three years, Cummings hit the comedy clubs on open mic nights. She quickly grew addicted to performing in front of a live audience and began to develop the two things important to the success of any comedian: material and a following.
She was topical and observational, two traits she picked up from her early comedy inspirations, who included Bill Cosby and Paul Reiser. But then she discovered the founding fathers of the contemporary shock-comedy movement: Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and George Carlin.
“Oh, man, the trifecta,” she says with a sigh during a phone call from her New York office. Cummings says she didn’t really recognize the genius of Bruce, Pryor and Carlin until well after she was a working stand-up and began studying their performances. When she heard how they pushed the envelope, Cummings began second-guessing herself.
“When I discovered them, I thought, ‘Oh, I can’t do this.’ I mean, you have to bare your soul,” she recalls. “There’s so much emotion in this, there’s vulnerability. They intimidated me so much.”
But she began melding the street language of comedy’s holy trinity with the topical subjects she liked to riff on, and Cummings’ signature performing style began to emerge.
In the big picture, she isn’t sure how helpful her Ivy League degree has been to her success in comedy. She doesn’t regret the college experience, and says being at such a prestigious school did have its advantages.
"The world has changed, but the art of stand-up is exactly the same. It’s so low tech. There’s nothing you can do that’s technological. You can’t speed it up, you can’t accelerate the process."
During the spring of 2006, three months before Lucky Louie premiered on HBO, it was obvious that Louis C.K. was on his way to becoming the hardest working man in show business.
"Yeah, we all get along super well and whatever, but there are no stories like ‘Oh, and then Nick Offerman slashed everyone’s tires.’ Ya know? Like, this is not a thing. It’s just not like everyone’s pulling pranks and doing goofy stuff all the time."
"Sarah asked me to do it and I wanted to do whatever it took to facilitate her vision. Wow — what an actory answer ...What have I become?!"
Penn Jillette may have been fired during the 11th episode of the current season of NBC’s 'Celebrity Apprentice,' but that didn’t stop the magician from pulling off what might be his most impressive trick during his 40-year career.
The Judd Apatow posse — the writer-director, wife Leslie Mann, their two daughters, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill — huddle up with Adam Sandler and go long. And we do mean long. Funny People, a drama pretending to be a dramedy about a bitter, dying selfish comic, clocks in at two hours, 26 minutes. Thanks to the Apatow contribution, the movie isn’t quite terrible, but it is not very good either. It hovers on the screen, pounding away at the notion that a great deal of stand-up humor, in particular male humor, comes from an incredible well of anger that explodes in a diatribe of self-centered rants about sexual conquests, humiliation and fear. I’ve interviewed many comedians over the decades (Jay...
You need only read the title of his first of two best-selling books to know Jim Norton is partial to poking fun at himself, and would be the first to admit his image is not likely to grace the pages ...
'He called me the night before and said there was a 6am flight to Philly and I could make it to A.C.,' says Ross. 'And I said I need to know that I can say whatever I want. [Sheen said 'OK'] and that’s what I did. And I got on the plane from L.A. and I wrote jokes all night. It was pretty crazy; it was an adventure. '
'A lot of little children and people from other countries are like, There’s Mr. Snickers! Then I find myself defending myself. I mean it’s a good thing. I love Snickers. And I freeze them in the refrigerator, but....'
The Atlantic City stop was full of surprises, including a guest spot by comedian and celebrity roaster Jeffrey Ross, who treated the crowd to an unscheduled, and pretty harsh live roast of Sheen.
"'That was huge for me. Everybody else bombed. I got the right manager and agent because of that. I can’t tell you how significant that was. '
When comedian and left-leaning political pundit Bill Maher brings his stand-up act to Caesars Atlantic City this weekend, his primary goal will be to make an audience of about 1,500 people laugh for 90 minutes.
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