LA-based comedienne Petey Gibson has had three completely sold-out Boston shows with comedic partner-in-crime, Julee Antonellis. Coming back for the fourth time, one-half of the genius that is the Gibson/Antonellis Comedy Hour
talked to the Dig about England, chemistry, and who should run the free world.
Oh, it’s ridiculous.
That must be hard in your line of work.
Yeah. We started in person, I moved here from Boston, and we always wanted to do a show together. And once I decided to move to LA it was now or never, so we put together a few shows and they were a huge hit, so when I moved to LA it became an excuse to kind of go back home and pay for my plane ticket back if I could sell tickets, so I could do a show while I’m visiting friends and family. And it just, like, exploded. It was such a big hit and we were getting such a good reaction, so we decided to move it to Oberon …We started on the phone and then Skype, FaceTime has been best for not having a delay.
I can imagine a delay being a very bad thing for someone in your line of business.
Oh my god, it was ruining every punch line. We had no comic timing.
So, it’s the fourth time you’ve done this show, and there’s a holiday theme?
It will talk about the holidays, but we’re also not killing ourselves talking about Christmas for two hours. That would be a nightmare.
That would be a nightmare. Can you give me an anecdote to illustrate what got you into comedy? Was there ever a moment like that?
Are you familiar with All The Kings Men At All? [It's] is a drag comedy troupe–gonna be 11 years old in April–I had come to Boston to go to Emerson College, and I hated it. I was there to be a children’s book writer, and I was having to do thirty-page papers. I had a complete meltdown and I was like, This is not for me. And I had this terrible breakup, and I was depressed on the couch and my friend said, “You need to see this group, All the Kings Men. I’m going to take you to a show.”
And I went, and it was as though I saw my brain on the stage. It was just so interesting and funny and great, and I found out six months later that they were having auditions. And one of the people who auditioned me was Julee Antonellis. So eight years ago, I joined All the Kings Men, and that was like, it for me.
It was super thrilling. Everything that I do now grew out of what I started doing eight years ago. I was just so fertile.
I would imagine any time you get to see your brain on stage and then join that operation, that’s the thrill of a lifetime.
It was so ridiculous. It’s like, now I’m in LA and I go to Groundlings Main Stage shows, and I see those people when I turn on the TV and they’re on commercials. And all of a sudden you see Melissa McCarthy doing Bridesmaids and making all these things, and the world is like, “Oh, Melissa McCarthy! She’s so up-and-coming!” And you’re like, “No I’ve seen that.”
And it’s amazing to think I’m on that path, too, because you start to recognize yourself in the people that you love. And the goal is to one day get to where they are and make those things together, because you see such an exciting likeness. Hopefully. That’s the goal anyway.
Your character Mary Dolan. I’m sure you get asked a lot, but is there a walking, breathing inspiration for that character? Or was it just a total brainchild?
I feel like anybody who’s a character actor does not make something out of nothing. We pull at everything.
I had the craziest grandmother growing up. She was so fat and happy and crazy, and she used to do Vaudeville revival shows, sing Sophie Tucker numbers, who was this great turn of the century singer and comedian who I am obsessed with now. I just assumed that everyone knew who Sophie Tucker was when I was growing up because it’s so much of my childhood. My grandmother’s name was Mary, and she was this performer and she was so wild, so when I started performing, I started slowly building this character. And then my grandmother passed away, and it was all around the same time.
I created Mary Dolan as this sort of homage to being a performer. I was constantly performing for my grandmother in my living room and she would come to all my dance shows and all my drama club shows. She was a huge supporter. And now I realize that my other grandmother, who is so funny, in like a senile-but-is-able-to-laugh-at-it way, was Mary Dolan as much as my other grandmother was. I would say it’s a complete blending of those two with a little Phillis Diller and myself thrown in.
Well, it works.
Hey thanks! Mary has way more Facebook friends than I could ever have.
Do you ever find yourself struggling to get out of character? You’re ordering a coffee in the morning and all of a sudden–BOOM–Mary Dolan?
It does pop up sometimes. Mary Dolan is much more bold and crass than I am. When you put on the mask of a character you’re kind of able to say whatever. “Oh Mary, she’s so old, so this, so that,” but I could never get away with being such an asshole.
Sometimes I’ll say something super sexual or rude and people will laugh at it, and if I use that voice its almost become my own safety, where I do it without thinking. [In Mary Dolan voice] “Fuck you, you piece of shit!” People just laugh, even though I’d really love to say to my friend, “Hey, you’re being a real fucking idiot.” But I just can’t. But I can use a voice and it becomes something else entirely.
That must feel good.
Hey it’s fantastic! Gets me where I need to go.
Do you think that when you’re on a stage performing for a crowd that that’s the most fun you’ll ever have? Or is it the professional life and then your hobbies? Is it, “This is it?”
This is it.
On stage, I am just wildly, wildly passionate about being a live performer, and I think there’s nothing like it, ever. Or I haven’t found it yet.
Let me know if you think the following questions suck.
I absolutely will.
You’re in a bar and you get one joke to tell a surly frowning stranger. What joke?
I don’t have a go-to. I tend to feel people out and go with what I think will get to them, will make them laugh. I wait tables. And sometimes I’ll walk up to a table and someone will seem a little surly, and I’ll do a little dance at the very end, right up to the table, and it’ll weird them out enough that they’ll relax.
I think the dance thing is great though. You get them to crack the smile.
You know? It’s actually what I love about performing with Julee. We have a very similar thing that we do … It’s very welcoming. We have people that have come to every show. They say, “We can’t wait to come to the show again.” It’s a very warm atmosphere we create. I think we’re both like that. “Hey, let’s make your day a little better.”
I guess I’ll ask you another dumb question. Sorry if that’s awkward. I usually interview more uptight people.
Am I too funny? Should I switch to Mary Dolan? These questions suck, you stupid shit!
I’ve been seeing on TV this woman in Britain who’s a princess and is pregnant.
YES. OH MY GOD KATE MIDDLETON. I AM OBSESSED WITH HER.
So I asked the right question?
Anything about her is the right question.
So whats the deal? Is there scandal?
No, finally! It’s pure, married sex between consenting adults. And they’re going to have a Prince Eric with a receding hairline, and I couldn’t be happier.
Eric? They’re going to name him Eric?
I want them to name it Eric. You know, Prince Eric? From The Little Mermaid? The most famous Disney prince of all? Come on, Jason!
I should have known that.
Goddamn it! You obviously didn’t grow up as a little girl in the ’80s watching Prince Eric and wanting to marry him and then growing up gay, did you?
Not exactly my background, no. If you were a banned substance, what banned substance would you be?
Cocaine. The amount of pure, rushing energy that I tend to have.
I’ve been accused of being on cocaine before, but I’ve never done it because I’m afraid all of my organs will explode. See how I’m a fast talker? I tend to talk fast, have a lot of nervous energy. So, no. I’m not mixing myself with my metaphorical self.
…I suspect you voted for Obama. Just a guess. If you could give control of the free world to anyone, who would it be?
Tina Fey … [she] runs on fucking ball-busting logic and she is just brilliant. I love her.
THE GIBSON/ANTONELLIS COMEDY HOUR: HOLIDAY EDITION!
2 ARROW ST.
8PM/ALL AGES/$20 RABLE SET, $15 SRO