We have big time love for one of our favorites Liz Miele, but some of you might not be as familiar. So, here’s a little run-down. Liz is a stand-up comic with a strong personality and fabulous stage presence. Hailing from New Jersey, she has been active in the comedy world since the tender age of 16, utilizing anecdotes from her life as an avid runner, sweets enthusiast, and big, loving family. She keeps us laughing far longer than necessary, with her infectious attitude and ability to think on her toes. Fair warning: She has a thing for cats. So, if you don’t like cats you might hate Liz. JK! Even if you are some weird cat racist it’s all good because Liz Miele is worth the read. (Also, it’s not all good if you’re a cat racist, bro.) So sit back, relax, and enjoy a cupcake while you read about your new best friend.
Serial Optimist: You talk about what sparked your interest in comedy in your article “Too Immature” in the April 2005 Issue of The Comical and you started doing stand-up at the age of 16. How did you get into the comedy scene so early?
Liz Miele: I was obsessed with stand-up. I always knew I liked being funny. I wanted to be Sandra Bullock when I was a kid. I just wanted to do funny movies but then at 13 I discovered stand-up and everything changed. I was obsessed. I watched, recorded and quoted it everyday. That’s what I wanted to do! “You mean everyone has to listen to me? YES!” I started writing my own jokes at 14 and did my first show at 16 in NYC.
SO: So you’re the second oldest of five children. How does your family react to your stand-up?
Liz: It’s changed over time. I’ve always been obsessed with animals especially cats and both my parents are vets who own two animal hospitals. So my parents just believed I would become a vet and take over so I think they were a little shocked. But they have been super supportive since day one. Even when I was punished and not allowed to hang with friends or leave the house I was still allowed to go to the city and do my shows. They got it was not just a hobby. Now it’s a little different. I’m brutally honest and curse a lot and I don’t think [my dad] likes it so he doesn’t go to shows. And I get my sense of humor and my sailor mouth from my mom so she loves it. She comes to any big show or show in NJ she can. And my siblings, Theresa, Emily, Sam and Greg are all supportive and have come to countless shows!
SO: Love that family love! Now let’s jump to a random question. If you could describe yourself in 5 words, which words would you choose?
Liz: Loud, Logical, Thoughtful, Crazy, Funny.
SO: Those seem pretty accurate! Before walking on stage, what are your thoughts? Do you have a routine? Butterflies? Just doing a bunch of cocaine?
Liz: Depends on the show. Regular shows I don’t think much. I just review my set and make sure I remember to do the new jokes I’ve been working on. Important shows and auditions I have to talk myself down and calm my mind. I’m not very nice to myself and often feel like a fuck up. So it’s me saying, “It doesn’t matter. This means nothing. You are a professional. You’ve done this a thousand times. If it doesn’t go well or you don’t get this it wasn’t meant to be. Just be you. People like you.” Lots of lies and very self-helpy!
Liz: Carmen was at the second show I ever did when I was 16. I remember seeing her onstage at Rose’s Turn. SO TALL! She doesn’t remember me. Many years later we just did a lot of shows together and I remember one week we did a few shows together and we were talking as we walked to the subway together and having a good time and I kinda asked her out. I was like, “Do you wanna be friends? Like hang out for real?” And Carmen was like, “Yeah for sure.” So we started hanging out. She’s just so funny and thoughtful. We became close fast.
“Apt C3” came from her moving in with me and my other roommate, Chris, about a year ago. Chris is a fashion photographer and videographer and he wanted to make funny videos with us and during Hurricane Irene we were all trapped together and Chris and Carmen came up with the “Hurricane Irene” sketch. That weekend we filmed three sketches and thus began our weekly web series of super short funny videos about us being roomies. We wrote, acted, and edited them all together and also took a weekly picture. It was a lot of fun.
SO: Being a comedy nerd, who are some of your favorite up and coming comics?
Liz: This is gonna come out selfish but it’s really a lot of my friends and dudes I came up with. The coolest thing about being a comic in NY is you are friends with some of the funniest people in the country. So Carmen Lynch (duh!), Adrienne Iapalucci, Justy Dodge, Maria Shehata, Hari Kondabolu, Gina Brillon, Nick Cobb, Leah Bonnema, Nate Bargatze, Dan Soder, Rory Scovel, Ryan Conner, Mike Vecchione, Jordan Carlos, Baron Vaughn, Jermaine Fowler, Kelly MacFarland, Myq Kaplan, Joe List…dude this list could go on forever. I work with brilliant people daily!!
SO: It did kind of go on forever there towards the end, you’re a lucky cat (sorry had to) to be surrounded by a great group of people! You recently posted a video to your blog (people seriously follow it, it’s greatness) with your reaction to an audience member touching you mid-joke. Also recently, there was a video circulating with a heckler. How do you bounce back from that and get back into the mindset of your comedy?
Liz: Well during the set where the dude touched my thigh mid joke it looks like I was calm and joking but I was like, “What the fuck?” and even in a room full of people a little scared. I think that’s why my reaction was so funny because they were honest thoughts. That table had heckled me in the middle of my act and I had shut them up dismissing them as drunk cause what they were saying didn’t make sense but when I go touched I had the light and had to wrap up. I was just honest. “I don’t know what to end on cause I just got molested” and it was funny cause everyone saw it and I just told a quick one liner and got out of there.
As for the guy heckling me and hitting on me, I was legit angry. Fuck you dude for thinking you are so awesome that you can interrupt me and not even apologize. So I let him know he was being a douche and I have a job to do. So it was easy to go, I’m doing something. You are a loser and then show him that my jokes are worthy of listening to. And cause I’m angry and can’t let things go I kept bringing it up to prove a point and be a little bit of a dick back!
SO: Some comedians say hecklers can help a set, as long as they aren’t the drunk and ridiculous kind, but it can help take the set to a more improv level. What are your thoughts?
Liz: My thoughts are I don’t need your help! It becomes a train wreck more often then not. Those dudes in my videos were slightly drunk and surrounded by non-drunks to keep them in check. But there are so many different kinds of hecklers that you have to be careful and read the heckler to know the best way to respond because you can turn the audience against you if you are too mean, or lose the audience by giving this one person too much power and attention, or you can be too serious and lose the funny in the set and break that wall.
I always try to ignore them first cause that can stop them just from not giving them what they want which is attention. I only deal with it if its so loud and obvious it has to be dealt with cause its hurting my concentration and the show. But they can ruin a show for hundreds of people. I don’t need you to improv. I can do that on my own when I want to. I planned my act and decide what I wanna do in the moment. I don’t need help from the audience. I’ve been doing this every night for 10 years. I think someone that embraces it doesn’t have a strong act and needs a distraction from that fact. This is an art form about jokes and story telling, not about dealing with the drunk and the emotionally immature. That’s not why I became a comic. It’s not my job to babysit you cause you don’t have an outlet to speak your mind in your own life.
SO: Well said. Your official bio boasts that you love cats and that yours is named Pasta. Please, tell us more about Pasta?
Liz: Yes, I’m a cat lover since as long as I can remember. Like I said my parents are vets and I grew up next to my mom’s practice which was an all cat clinic called, Carnegie Cat Clinic. Pasta, is 7 years old. I got her as a kitten on my friend Ashley’s farm in NJ. She is an all black domestic short hair with a few white hairs near her tail. She is much nicer now but the first 3-4 year of her life she was a real asshole. And it was a running joke among my friends. Bite everyone, never cuddled. Wanted nothing to do with anyone and was real mean. Then she started to calm and be nicer at 3 and then I was homeless for a few months during a bad break up and didn’t see her for 3 months and I must have messed her up cause she has crazy abandonment issues now. She sleeps next to me or crawls into my arms in the middle of the night. Sits on my lap as I work at my computer. Follows me from room to room and cries outside my door if I lock her out. She has done a full 180 from unaffectionate dick to over eager friend.
SO: What would be your most creative argument to get people who dislike cats to change their mind?
Liz: Just give them one. You can’t convince anybody of anything with words if they have already made up their mind. If someone hates spinach they wont change their mind until you make some amazing spinach and prove them wrong. Cats are easy to take care of, usually aren’t needy and if you love them they love you back. Most people I know are accidental cat owners and lovers. The fell into cat ownership and love their cat but thought they sucked before. Cats get a bad wrap cause they do their own thing but we are busy people. You’d be surprised how nice it is to have someone around when you want them and gone when u don’t.
SO: You like all things sweet. What’s your favorite sweet treat?
Liz: Donuts and chocolate chip cookies are a tie. The Donut Pub is my fav donut place in NYC and Insomnia Cookies is my fav cookie place. Both open late so I can eat them in between gigs.
SO: Your first stand-up album is set to record on Oct 2 in Boston. What can fans look forward to from the album? This is a huge deal!
Liz: More stories. I’ve really gotten into fleshing out some crazy experiences I’ve had in the last two years. Also just a lot of new material. I was surprised myself when I was putting together my set how much was written in the last 4-6 months.
SO: The Cha Cha Slide or The Macarena?
Liz: What is this question? I don’t know what the Cha Cha Slide is and I remember The Macarena from elementary school but honestly it was dumb and embarrassing. Boo this question!! I like car dancing while driving with my brothers and sisters trying to embarrass them while other cars are near!
SO: Asking that question made me smile, as did your answer. What makes you smile on a daily basis?
Liz: Cat pictures, my friends ridiculous Facebook comments and texts, quoting movies and jokes with my little sister, Emily, my cat doing something cute, Carmen walking past my bedroom door saying something ridiculous and funny.
SO: Hugs Liz, thanks for making us laugh!