Comedian Sarah Colonna will be the first headlining performer to appear at Spokane Comedy Club on Thursday. Colonna appeared on the late-night series “Chelsea Lately” as both a panelist and a writer, and she’s performed on “Last Comic Standing,” “The Tonight Show” and “The View.” She has also released two humorous autobiographical books – “Life As I Blow It” and “Has Anyone Seen My Pants?” – that were met with critical acclaim. We spoke to Colonna about her writing process, her penchant for storytelling and her working relationships with the new club’s owners on the eve of her Spokane debut.
The Spokesman-Review: You’re the first comedian to take the stage at Spokane Comedy Club. Have you had that kind of gig before?
Sarah Colonna: No, I don’t think I ever have. So, no pressure, right? … I’ve worked with (the owners) at their club in Tacoma, and it’s truly one of my favorite clubs to do in the country. They just run it so well and everyone’s so nice. I saw some photos of the Spokane club and it looks like they’ve modeled it similarly.
SR: What is it about the Tacoma Comedy Club that you think makes it a special place?
Colonna: It might be partly that it’s family owned, and you can tell that. There are so many great clubs, and a lot of them have personal touches on them, even if they’re corporate owned. But at the end of each weekend, Adam and his whole family give you a card and a little gift and everyone from the staff signs it. They just make you feel really welcome and a part of it.
SR: How did you get into stand-up comedy in the first place?
Colonna: I grew up in Arkansas, and I always wanted to do comedy. I moved to L.A. and started. … It’s usually a place you move to after you’ve been doing (comedy) for awhile. When you’re starting out, you’re doing showcases, and you’re under pressure to do well in five minutes. I’m more of a storyteller, and in the beginning I felt this pressure to get everything out in five minutes, so it was just joke, joke joke. And now I’ve built more material and I get to do what I want to do. … My style is more about talking about experiences – relationships, parents, family, friends, things everyone can relate to because we all have those things. Well, most of us have friends at least.
SR: Do you think that showcase format helped define the long-form comedy you’re doing now?
Colonna: It made me find a tone, for sure. You’re stumbling through it at the beginning, learning what works and what doesn’t. If something didn’t work, it was like, “Forget it, I’m never saying that again.” But I learned that you can tweak it, and that’s the cool thing about having to those showcases and finding what works – I have to get 10 laughs in a couple minutes instead of having an hour to play it out.
SR: You’ve published two books now. Is there a different process to writing material for your books than material you’d perform as stand-up?
Colonna: It really is different. There have been times where I’ve written a story for a book and thought, “I wonder if I could shorten it and tell it on stage.” But it doesn’t ever seem to work for me. … In writing a book, you have so much more time to tell a story, so I can get into nuances. There are so many details that I don’t know I could ever whittle down into a stage story. For me it was really cool: If I was never able to figure out how to tell a story on stage in five minutes, now I have 15 pages to write it out with all the details. … So if you read the book and then go see me, you’re not going to hear the same stories.
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