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Friday, March 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Julia Sweeney plots ‘Older and Wider’ return to Fox theater for taping

Julia Sweeney, photographed in 2018 at her mom’s Spokane condo, will film a comedy special at the Fox in April. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Julia Sweeney, photographed in 2018 at her mom’s Spokane condo, will film a comedy special at the Fox in April. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The last time she brought her one-woman comedy show, “Older and Wider,” to Spokane, in September 2018, Julia Sweeney was worried about filling the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox.

She needn’t have – the show sold well as friends, fans and family from her hometown clamored to hear the comedienne, actress and writer talk about her life.

Now, Sweeney is planning on bringing “Older and Wider” back to the Fox. And she’s still a bit nervous because she has to draw a big crowd to the Fox not once, but twice.

Sweeney will be filming “Older and Wider” over two days at the Fox – April 2 and 3.

The former “Saturday Night Live” star originally planned to film the show at a theater in Seattle, but when she and her friend Stephen Kessler, who she asked to direct, went to check out the place she had booked, neither of them felt it had the right vibe.

“So I turned to him and said, ‘I know the most beautiful theater, in my hometown of Spokane, the Fox theater, where I used to work as an usher in high school. It’s so gorgeous. We should go see it,” Sweeney recalled during a recent interview at Central Food in Kendall Yards.

“So we literally drove to the airport, I called (Fox general manger) Brian Ritter and said, ‘Can you meet us there in three hours?’ ” she said. “We fly in, we walk in, and Steve goes, “This is the most beautiful theater.’ ”

It was a done deal. To help make sure there are as many enthusiastic people as possible in the Fox those two nights, Sweeney decided to give away 500 tickets each night at the back of the house; sign up for them at her website, juliasweeney.com. The rest will sell for $25 a pop, and she hopes to have the room as full as possible both nights.

“Everywhere I’m going, I’m like, ‘Go to my website, there’s a popup window, put your name in and how many tickets do you want,’ ” she said, “and I’m hoping that kickstarts it.”

Sweeney is funding the project, then will take it around to outlets afterward and hopes that it finds an audience. “If it turns out good, you can make a lot more, it’s a lot better,” she said, ‘but then you’re risking that you don’t sell it.”

Filming of “Older and Wider” will nearly be the end of that particular monologue; she’ll do one more show at the Groundlings in Los Angeles on April 6, then that’s it. The show has been part of her repertoire for more than two years now after acclaimed runs in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

In it, she talks about her decision to leave Hollywood and move to the Chicago suburbs, where her husband had a business, and where they would raise their daughter, Mulan. After 10 years as a stay-at-home mom, and with Mulan off to college, Sweeney prepared to return to California and pick up her career.

She even jokes about it during “Older and Wider.” “You don’t have a look like this,” she deadpans, gesturing from her sensible shoes to her short gray hair, “and waste it.”

If she worried about that, too, she needn’t have. Within weeks of returning to L.A., she was cast to play Aidy Bryant’s mother on the Hulu series “Shrill.” Season 2 just premiered, and Sweeney returns for three episodes.

She did an episode of “Brooklyn Nine Nine” and plays a version of herself on Showtime’s “Work in Progress.” She’s currently filming Season 3 of the drama “American Gods,” the Starz series based on the novel by Neil Gaiman.

The successful reboot of her acting career is the reason she’s putting her comedy shows on hold. “I want to be open for acting,” she said. “And I really love doing drama. I’m wondering why I wasn’t doing drama from the very beginning. … I really love the acting, so I want to concentrate on that.”

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