McGinnis: Laughing Lisa Landry to appear at Fat Fish BlueWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Louisiana native Lisa Landry took her first steps in front of an audience, it wasn’t as the confident and hilarious comedian she is nowadays. She began her road in entertainment hoping to be an actress. She first came to New York City over a decade and a half ago to train — and it was there that the stand-up bug first bit her.
“I realized I like comedy better, because you get to speak your mind, you get to travel, you get to experience these things all the time, you don’t have to be under the constraints of an ensemble — which is oftentimes fantastic,” Landry said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star. “There’s something freeing about comedy.”
So Landry began to hone and refine her act, which has led to extensive touring around the country, including several stops in the Toledo area — the latest of which will begin Thursday, September 1 at Fat Fish Blue in Perrysburg. “I love hearing people laugh. It makes me feel like I’m doing something good, if that makes any sense,” she said.
“I have a lot of love for my audience, you know? I’m glad they came, I want them to have fun. If an audience member is not laughing and clapping, and banging their fist on the table, I feel like I’m not doing my job.”
Landry’s performance style has been cultivated over fifteen years of work, fine-tuning her onstage persona through regular touring. She describes her approach as conversational, though not self-indulgently so.
“I talk about things I think people can relate to. So it’s not as if I’m trying to effect a certain response based on trying to be too experimental,” Landry said. “I’ve got this way of writing that’s extremely honest about what I’m going through, or who I’m dealing with, or reactions to what’s happening.”
So, does she use her humor as a form of counseling, venting her life’s frustrations onstage? Landry seemed to wrinkle her nose at the idea. “I try to stay away from [comedy] as a therapeutical experience, only because I’ve seen in the past other people go up and use the stage as a therapy session, and I think it’s really unfair to the audience,” she said.
“Some people take it too far. They just have this…I don’t want to say lack of respect for the audience, but I guess that’s basically what it is, huh? It’s a self-importance where it’s about more what they want to talk about. I think comedy should try to do both. I think it should be entertaining, kinda thought-provoking, relatable. That’s my own take on it.”
Her point-of-view has led to Landry’s unique rapport with her audience, further developed through appearances on talk shows such as “The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and “The Bonnie Hunt Show.” She noted how different and how confining performing on such shows can be.
“They approve your set, you have a very strict time limit, you can’t go over, you can’t go under. There’s so much more control when you’re doing something for television,” she said.
She noted, though, that an excitable and engaging television audience is more reliable for great reactions, whereas a traditional club audience can be harder to win over.
“When you’re doing live comedy, there’s cocktails being dropped, and there’s checks going down, and there’s usually an MC — it’s such a different vibe, there’s nothing like it. And every audience is totally different. There’s always gonna be stuff you’re always gonna do in your act, but there’s always gonna be someone new in the audience,” Landry said.
So how does a comedian learn to deal with such factors, night after night? “You gotta get up and do it yourself, man. There’s always people who are gonna give you, like, a word of encouragement here, or like, you know, ‘You really suck,’ a word of discouragement if you’re doing something wrong. But for the most part, you just gotta get up and keep figuring it out for yourself.”
Landry has also had to figure out how to balance family with her comedic career, as she is also the mother of a young son. “I’m very lucky. Because I may not see my kid for, like, a week, but then I see him for, like five days straight. I probably get to spend a lot more time with him than mothers who have traditional jobs,” she stated.
“It was hard at first, it was really hard at first. But now it’s getting better. I’m actually spending more time with him, because now he’s getting older, and now he kinda needs me more.”
As for the future, Landry noted that her goals as a performer are straightforward. “I think sitcom, that’s always every comedian’s goal — or maybe every other comedian’s at this point, because sitcoms have such a difficult time these days. I just always want to be happy with what I’m doing. That’s always my ultimate goal, just to be happy with what I’m doing.”