This entire industry is being run by very lucky fools. Make your own rules. Off of that, remember that just because someone wears a suit and tie to work, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re smarter than you. In fact, a lot of the time it means that they’re a sucker and couldn’t figure out a way to work for themselves and so they make money for someone else.
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lisa Curry.
Lisa Curry is an internationally touring comedian and TV writer based between New York and Los Angeles. She began her career as part of Second City Hollywood’s house improv ensemble, where she performed with some of the most well-respected names in comedy. Her quick mind and sharp wit have landed her jobs as a correspondent for both Alpha Networks in Los Angeles and State of Mind Media in New York. In 2017, PBS chose Lisa to represent comedians in L.A. for their docu-series, ‘Angeleno’.
Lisa regularly tours as a standup and in 2019, she toured Europe for eight weeks, performing 51 shows in 9 countries. On that same tour, she headlined two festivals, performing two separate hours of standup. She also recorded her debut album, “Alive for a While” and performed for the troops in Jordan. Lisa has worked as a creative on ad campaigns for both Amazon and Comedy Central. She has also written for NBC, TruTV, and Comedy Central, where she was a staff writer on The Jim Jefferies Show. Lisa is also a regular guest on “You Up?” with Nikki Glaser on Comedy Central’s Sirius XM channel. Her debut comedy album, “Alive for a While” will be available on iTunes September 2nd. Her work is smart, dark and deeply personal.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a small town in Indiana with three brothers and a big family of mostly boys. When I was a kid, my parents owned a bar that’s been in my family for decades. They sold their share of it when I was seven and bought a marina, which is where I spent most of my formative years. Because of the marina, I learned to drive speed boats at nine years old. My younger brother and I also worked at the marina year-round while we had it, collecting docking fees, selling bait, and cleaning up around the ten-acre property. It was a lot of work, but didn’t feel like it most of the time, since it afforded me the privilege of being on the lake all summer and going out on customers’ boats.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I moved to Los Angeles with only a dream and absolutely no idea how to execute it. After years of floating around the city aimlessly, I enrolled in Second City’s conservatory program, where I finally began to understand how to build a career in comedy. Once I was about a year into improv training, I tried standup for the first time and immediately fell in love.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The most interesting story? It’s impossible to choose one! It’s been such an incredible decade of ups and downs. Last year was one with an absurd number of highs. I toured Europe for two months straight, performing nearly every night. During the tour, I performed at a few festivals, performed for the U.S. troops, and recorded my debut stand-up album. Of course, this took months of prep, so it’s hardly something that just happened to me.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A big mistake I made when I was starting out was spending too much time focusing on the business side of things. I was so worried about making my career fail-proof, whatever that might mean, that I wasted a good amount of time learning which reps were where and what deals were being made, rather than hanging out with other comics and enjoying having no one to answer to throughout my twenties.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m grateful to so many people for guidance and recommendations that have moved me forward throughout my career. Two people who stand out at the moment are Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer. Nearly all of the money I’ve made in the past year has been directly because of one of their recommendations.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
My advice would be to not dwell on your failures. Over the course of a career, you’re going to have many, many failures, but you’ll also have many, many successes. Leave your failures behind and let your successes grow into more success. Remember that it’s a very long and unpredictable road. The things you succeed at will shape your career and pull you toward more of what you’re meant to excel at.
What drives you to get up everyday and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
I love what I do so much, I no longer consider it a venture separate of my daily life. For better or worse, I’ve always been bad at predicting the future. The only aspect of the business I feel I might have any reasonable insight on how artists seem to be gaining more control over their own careers. I imagine that’ll continue on, as technology has given us the ability to grow and shape our own careers without first being granted permission from someone else.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
Thank you! My debut comedy album, ‘Alive for a While’ is out now. An animated show I created with my best friend is currently out to producers and I have reason to feel very optimistic about it. Seeing that live stand-up is mostly nonexistent for the foreseeable future, I’m focusing mostly on writing and getting my ideas published and produced.
We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
There’s far more than three reasons that diversity is important. Too many people spend their lives in only their own communities. This gives them a warped sense of the world outside of their own. I don’t say this to place blame on the individual who lacks the desire to travel, learn about, and experience other cultures. I believe the issue is much bigger than that. The philosophy of American Exceptionalism has lead many people to believe that what’s right in front of them is the best that life has to offer. Because of this, they stay home, basing their opinions of the outside world on what they see on television and in movies. Of course I’m generalizing here, but I think the entertainment industry is responsible for a lot of the racism and xenophobia that’s prevalent in American society. If someone never leaves their small town in the Bible Belt and their only exposure to Muslims is when they’re cast as terrorists in a drama, what views do you think they’ll form? Having increased diversity in entertainment gives more people the chance to showcase their own, unique stories. As those stories reach the general public, more disparate groups become humanized to the whole. More diversity in entertainment is crucial to driving out hatred and ignorance in society and so we must fight for it in all areas of the business.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Here’s five things I wish someone had told me when I first started: First, there are no rules. And I mean none. This entire industry is being run by very lucky fools. Make your own rules. Off of that, remember that just because someone wears a suit and tie to work, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re smarter than you. In fact, a lot of the time it means that they’re a sucker and couldn’t figure out a way to work for themselves and so they make money for someone else. This is all to say, don’t apply bad advice to your life and career simply because someone with an office gave it to you. Most of the time, they haven’t a clue what they’re talking about. Third, but perhaps most importantly, be nice to everyone, and not in case they’re someone who can help your career. I hear this all the time, people saying you should be nice to everyone because you don’t know who they are. If you’re only being kind to help your career, kindly fuck off. Instead, be nice to people because this is a tough, but fun business. It’s only what you make of it, so why be a jerk? You can be a jerk accountant and make six figures right out of college. The whole point of working in entertainment is to have fun ’til you die. Do that. The fourth thing I’ll say is believe in yourself. If you don’t, then what the hell are you doing? I wasted a lot of time in my first few years of comedy only half believing in myself and so I didn’t go after things that were within my reach and I didn’t work on my career very diligently. What a waste. Last, but certainly not least, always be true to yourself. Not everyone will like you and that’s okay. Not everyone likes avocados and they avocados are incredible. Do what makes you happy. The more true to yourself you are, the more you’ll enjoy the fans you pick up along the way.
Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.
Self care is key to success. I know firsthand how easy it is to skip out on self care to squeeze in more time to work and I’ll be the first to tell you that’s not going to help you succeed any faster. I’m glad to be back in therapy after a decade without health insurance. I do morning pages almost every day and yoga helps a ton as well. If you’re feeling angry, anxious and sad, it’s probably time to step away from social media for a bit. While it’s an important tool for getting your work out and building a fan base, being online too much will make you crazy.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My all-time favorite quote is “Il faut aller voir.” It’s clumsily translates to, “We must go see for ourselves.” It was Jacques Cousteau’s life credo. He believed everyone has a responsibility to go and explore the world and it’s a belief I fervently subscribe to myself. It’s so very important to travel and see the world for yourself. There’s no way to learn from a book what traveling teaches you. It cannot be replicated. If you haven’t left the country, pack your bags and go now*. *As soon as it’s safe to travel
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I wish everyone would consider people and life outside of themselves. Realize your insignificance on this planet. And I mean that in a positive way. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your compassion. Be patient. Be kind. Be generous. Love freely. Don’t trash the planet. Make a positive impact as often as you can. Life is long and fun and weird and painful. Enjoy it and try to be the reason others enjoy it as well.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
It depends. Who’s paying? I’d kill to chat with Carol Burnett. She’s such an overlooked force in comedy. She’s one of comedy’s best and the story of how she made her way is incredibly inspiring. I read her memoir on an overseas flight a handful of years back — I’m a very slow reader — and I openly sobbed on the plane for the entire trip. If you’re game, Carol, I’ll gladly pick up the check.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
I am! You can find me on twitter @lisa_curry and on Instagram @olympianlisacurry. My website is lisacurry.net, if you’re itching for that extra bit of Lisa Curry content.
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you so much!