Chelsea Peretti may not yet be a household name, but she's one hell of a prolific comedian and writer; she wrote for and appeared on The Sarah Silverman Program, was a regular on Tru TV's The Smoking Gun Presents, wrote and starred in the fantastic web series All My Exes. (Ohh, the Jonathan Winters one -- explosive laughter.) She's a founding member of NYC's fab comedy troupe Variety Shac and has written for various magazines, as well as the Huffington Post. All that and to boot, she's a killer stand-up with an immensely likable combo of cool, dry wit and heartfelt, no-bullshit observation; she's like that friend you can't wait to see again so you can both have a good laugh unloading everything that's been driving you batshit since the last time you hung out.
L.A. WEEKLY : Who were some of the funny ladies who influence you, either from yesterday or today? (Or male comics, for that matter.)
PERETTI : I'm inspired by so many people: Sarah Silverman, Tig Notaro, Morgan Murphy, Amy Schumer, Rachel Feinstein, Marina Franklin, Joan Rivers, Margaret Cho, my Variety Shac cohorts Heather Lawless and Andrea Rosen, and also people like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Parker Posey, Catherine O'Hara, Roseanne and Jackie Beat. Going further back: Gilda Radner, Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball. Inspired by tons of guys, too -- hate to break it down into guys and girls separately, so let's all think of a bunch of guys in our heads. So many greats!
I loved writing for Sarah. It was so creatively satisfying to get to work on a unique show built around the singular voice of someone I admire and love. Playing opposite Louis CK in some scenes for his new TV show was similarly a complete fantasy job. To get to be anywhere near people that funny, whom I respect to the extent that I do, is a dream. As is often the case those jobs came after a period of total despair -- right before moving to L.A. to write for Sarah I'd been crying on my couch in New York thinking about quitting comedy and relocating to a remote mountaintop or becoming a florist. Anyway, writing and acting jobs can cut into stand-up but there are also examples of stand-ups with TV jobs, who tour when they have time off and get sets in whenever they can during the regular grind of creating a season of television (thinking of people like Louis CK, Aziz Ansari, Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Judah Friedlander, etc.). There's no single mold of how to make it all work. I think it's possible to find balance. I also look to people like Larry David, Christopher Guest, Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais for inspiration on how to integrate writing and performing into a complete project.
The material in your act about your mother really hit home with me. (Seriously, I think your mother and mine should get together for cosmos.) Has your mom seen that part of your act, and what does she think of it?
My mom has seen me do material about her, but I'm not sure what she makes of it. We have a nonverbal agreement to be nonverbal about it. I love her deeply and appreciate her bravery in allowing me to explore family themes in my act without protest. Seems like a fair exchange for my childhood.