@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Since comedians have been heavily in the limelight since “the slap” and there’s been ongoing debates on who was right or who was wrong (Will Smith was wrong, it isn’t even a debate, fools), as a person in the heart of comedy in New York, I wanted to share some moments that I’ve had with comedians that prove despite underneath our jokes (whether or not you perceive them as mean or inappropriate) many of us are as much humanitarians as we are jesters.
Let’s start with two of my favorite, and more famous friends, Colin Quinn and Gary Gulman.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with both on a number of occasions and consider them both friends and mentors. You’d be hard pressed to find a comedian who doesn’t hero worship these two. Both of these guys are familiar with the grind. As a newer comic, when I was opening for them and flat broke (and mean broke broke, like I’d only eat two meals a day and one of those meals would be peanut butter because that’s what I could afford) both those guys so generously tipped me that I had to excuse myself and go to the bathroom and cry from gratitude because I didn’t want to cry in front of them (or anyone, I consider crying a dirty act). It was already such a pleasure and honor to work with them. These aren’t the only headliners that have tipped me (or anyone who opens for them). They just happen to be ones in a place in their career where they can and do help out other comics a lot.
Of course, there are few people in the comedy world I adore more than my podcast partner, Nick Griffin, whom I’ve written and pitched screenplays with. Not only did working with Nick sharpen my skills as a writer, but if not for him, I wouldn’t have my manager and wouldn’t be currently shopping my first feature script. Whatever success I find as a writer, it will at least be a little bit thanks to him. If ever I’m in a position to hire a writer, he’s #1 (sorry all my other talented friends, I see you too, but as long as Griffin is around you’re always going to be second best).
I am careful not to complain about how hard it is for women in the comedy industry, mostly, because it’s fucking hard for everyone. Period. However, one thing that is really hurting female comics is the fact that a lot of clubs (on the road) are axing hotel rooms for features. This is detrimental to female comics. Because most comedians (by a lot) are men. And if headliners have to share rooms with their openers, they are probably going to pick their bros, especially if they are married or have girlfriends. And who could blame them? I actually have shared hotel rooms with male comics I’m platonic friends with and fully trust. But that’s a short list. Michael Somerville is one of my best buds in the business, and also one of my favorite drinking buddies (blessed be those who befriend a drunken Palminteri and Somerville). We used to do a gig together where I did get my own hotel room as the opener. Then, they got rid of room for features. Somerville went as far as booking a room for me out of his own pay, something not expected but appreciated. Maybe we’re all just hedging our bets on our friends becoming famous so we can all take care of each other when we’re old and none of us have health insurance and we’re dying. Hopefully someday, I’ll be able to return the favor. Until then, remember Somerville is the best of the best.
The New York City comedy scene can be clicky and make you feel like you’re in high school again. Believe it or not, I am not one of the “cool kids” of the NYC comedy scene (whatever the fuck that means). One time, some years ago, I was hanging out at a NYC comedy club. I didn’t really know any of the comics hanging out there, so I just very awkwardly hung out by myself, pretending to be doing something on my phone. At the time, I wouldn’t say Caitlyn Peluffo (a rising star on the New York scene) and I were even friends, just friendly acquaintances. It’s not like me to be outgoing still, I am an introvert through and through. However, Caitlyn went out of her way to say hello to me and include me with the group of comics hanging out. It was a very small gesture that had a very big impact on me. That’s just being a decent human, right there. So, as I see her succeeding and getting more and more work, it makes me smile knowing she’s one of the good ones.
Lenny Marcus might not remember that he did a guest set on a show I did in my first few months of comedy. He was nice to me back then, and I thought it was so cool a comic that funny was even talking to me. Fast forward some years. Lenny invited me to his NY Giant game parties (usually resulting in us being disappointed in our team) and I even babysat his daughter. On more than one occasion when I was wildly depressed and wrote about it on this here blog, he would call and check in on me. Lenny also helped me get a writing job for radio. Currently, Lenny writes for Leslie Jones. She loves him and it’s no secret why. He’s an amazing joke writer and equally good person.
I actually started comedy in the city, not Long Island. I did, however, get my chops in the Long Island comedy scene even though I’m now a Queens resident for eight years (that blows my mind). My Long Island comedy family includes Dennis Rooney, Mike Toohey, Katrina Reese, Tim Gage, Tim Krompier, Chris Roach, Dan Barry, Bryan McKenna, Mick Thomas, John Zeigler, Anthony DiDomenico, Matt Burke, Joey Kola. Kunal Arora, and I would even include Adam Ferrara in this group. Because all of these people, and I mean all of them, have called just to check in, ask for my advice about jokes, read my screenplays, bought me dinners. Most of us haven’t had the means to be generous with our money, so they were generous with their time, and to me, that’s worth a lot more (Zeigler might disagree with me re: time being worth more than money– haha, I kid).
Let’s throw in a booker for good measure. Joel Richardson runs “Soul Joel’s” a club in the suburbs of Philedelphia. Joel rose to some fame during the pandemic for running outside shows under a dome outside of his club. He kept a lot of comics working and put money in our pockets when we were hurting the most. I wish every club owner/booker were like Joel. He loves comedy at least as much as I do, and pays people what they are worth and treats comics like people he idolizes. If you are anywhere near the Philly area, I could not encourage you to go to his club more. He is a champion of comedy.
There are more people I could praise, but let’s wrap it up here. Kat Timpf (my physical and personality doppelganger) is best known for being Greg Gutfeld’s right hand gal on the now most watched late night show on television. Kat and I first met years ago on during an all-female comedy festival back when she was doing stand-up reps before her fame. We became fast friends. Little did I know at the time how fatalistic this friendship would be. Now, I get to write for a show she’s on and write insulting jokes about her in the process (haha). Where would I be now without Kat!? Probably questioning why I got myself into this life instead of enjoying it as much as I am now.