Erin Foley is ‘lucky she’s funny’

Erin Foley is a seasoned comedians and has her own Comedy Central Presents, appeared on Conan O’Brien, @Midnight and Chelsea Lately. She has performed at the Montreal Comedy Festival, San Francisco Sketch Fest and Moontower Comedy Festival. Her successful comedic podcast Sports Without Balls, provides a platform for women in sports. As a writer, Foley has contributed to NPR’s Live From Here, NBC’s One Big Happy & Pop TV’s One Day at a Time.

Describe your worst gig.

This is an easy one. I did a “stand-up” show at noon in a college cafeteria in Peoria, Illinois. I put stand-up in quotes because it was basically me speaking into a mic while everyone was eating. About thirty minutes in, someone threw an onion ring at me. It bounced off my shoulder and hit the floor. I was scheduled to do an hour but after getting hit with an onion ring, I stopped the show, grabbed my paycheck and ran out the door. There may have been a lot of F bombs dropped.

Favorite response to a heckler or troll? 

That really depends on what the heckler is saying. The good thing is that after twenty years of shows, there’s nothing I can’t handle or haven’t heard before. Unfortunately it’s just part of the job. More often than not, the comment (and heckler) is usually dumb. That helps!

What were you like as a teen? (Did you have comedy #goals? Were you already funny, or not so much?)

I was a crazy athlete as a teen. I definitely didn’t have any comedy goals or theater background. I played every sport imaginable but at the same time I was always funny. It came naturally.

What’s your first impulse when someone says “women aren’t funny”?

My first impulse is to slap them across the face, but I hate conflict so that’s never going to happen. It makes my blood boil. Women are hilarious – since day one.

When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?

I have two wonderful sisters. They came to all my shows when I started out in New York City. They’ve been so supportive and encouraged me to keep going. Also, I loved it!

Best comedy advice you ever got?

I know it sounds corny, but here it is…when you’re having fun, they’re having fun. I still think about that all the time. The shows I have enjoyed the most are my most successful ones. It’s a simple piece of advice but it’s very hard to do. It takes a long time to let go of the nerves and anxiety and have a good time on stage.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

A very well known comic told me not to talk about being gay on stage because it would prevent me from getting corporate work. He was coming from a good place but wow did he miss the mark. My goal wasn’t to be a closeted gay comic doing sets for Walmart, Inc.

How has being funny helped you in your offstage life, either recently or when you were younger?

I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve heard the phrase “you’re lucky you’re funny” or “thank god you’re funny” after massively screwing up. It continues to this day. My sense of humor saves me every day. And, of course, being able to laugh at yourself and the world around you is the key to survival.

Was there one person who inspired you to go into comedy? If so: Who, why, how?

I don’t think there was a single person or moment that made me want to go into comedy. It was a lot of small moments that inspired me to try stand-up. That being said, my father was the funniest person I’ve ever met and even though he didn’t quite understand my career, he passed down the funny gene. I’m forever grateful.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

If it’s coming from someone outside the comedy world then I give them a free pass. Overall, just call me a comic. Not a lady comic, not a comedienne, not a gay comic, just a comic.

Favorite response to “What’s it like to be a woman in comedy”?

It’s so EASY!

On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young (female/non-binary) comedian?

It would be the same advice I give to every young comic when I’m asked – don’t drink before your set and have the world’s best personal life.

What single word always cracks you up?

The name Carol. She’s been my fake assistant for over a decade.

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