Zenobia Del Mar has put significant effort and muscle into the Mass comedy scene, standing tall, exploring city life and her surroundings, and setting records straight the whole time. While many local comics have run for the hills or other cities after getting in her way, others have embraced Del Mar and helped introduce her to larger audiences. In a time when top comedians are increasingly self-proclaimed with a lack of experience, she cuts through the bullshit like a box cutter. I spoke with Del Mar about her new album, Reckless With The Truth, which she’ll celebrate with a show in Somerville this week.
How deep into comedy are you?
I’m in year eight now. I started in New York. About six weeks later, I was back in Boston, did shows here, then moved to LA and hated it and moved back. It’s been a steady stream; you look up, and you’re like, Damn, eight years.
Was putting a comedy album out a thing you’ve been aiming to do?
There’s lots of different roads when it comes to comedy and what you should be doing. I just do my job, so that’s what I was doing—growing my time, doing longer sets, sets out of town, etc., then this producer Alan Richardson comes along and says, “We like what you do. Album?” And I’m like, “Yeah!”
Material-wise, how did you choose what was going to make your album?
You got to choose the stuff like the hits, but [I] also chose the jokes that I like. Some of those jokes were from like year one [laughs]. The whole breadth, from A to Z. There’s a lot going on, man.
It’s a calamity show all the time. We’re right across the street from the bar where they throw the axes, by the way.
Yeah, what’s up with that? That’s one bad idea.
All I can say is that the same people that can’t dress themselves are throwing axes. Jesus. Talk about cart before the fucking horse.
As a writer and a working comic, do you find yourself suspicious of other comics jacking material?
There are certain times that you have to name names. I was at a show recently and I heard some shit come from someone—something very similar to something that I say. I text my producer, “I’m at a show right now, I can’t rewind the video, but did I refer to New Hampshire as Northern Alabama?” And he was like, “Yep.”
The Deep South of New England. You also called Revere “White Roxbury.”
Yeah, it is. When I was growing up, Dorchester and Roxbury were the black and white versions of each other. Revere and Roxbury have always been disenfranchised. They’re on equal footing.
You’re critical when it comes to comedy. Who are the Boston comics you enjoy the sets of?
I’m not so critical of comics, more of the representation of bullshit.
Anytime I see Chris Pennie on a bill, I will fucking go. He’ll be there at my album release. Orlando Baxter, whenever you can catch him—go, he’s like a unicorn, ’cause he’s always on the road. All the others I see regularly working with them. Steve McConnor I love—he’s the best storyteller in Boston comedy. He’s a slim guy with glasses and got that villain moustache. He’s fantastic.
Your label, Dead and Mellow, seems like a much-needed element in Boston’s comedy scene?
Yeah, Dead and Mellow, they’re now somewhat the boss of me. I’m signed to them, along with a couple of other comics here in Boston. Alan Richardson came to me and said, “We’re starting a label, we want to do a comedy album, and we want to do yours.” We did the contract, then boom, we got an album. Alan Richardson and Matt Minigell come from music backgrounds, so they know how to produce and make things sound good. That crossed over and they decided they want to produce comedy albums. It’s a gift, man.