Sarah Terez Rosenblum (@SarahTerez) is an MFA-holding writer, teacher and Spinning instructor. She's also the Theater Listings Editor for Centerstage Chicago. Look for her posts twice a week.
What will the gay daughter of an ordained Southern Baptist Minister and a deaf mother say onstage at Gorilla Tango Theater? Not a politically incorrect joke, but a legitimate question. Find the answer at comedian Lianna Carrera’s solo show, “Father, Son and The Holy Gay! or Where in the World is Jennifer Knapp?” From her debut at age four in The Deaf Choir for Jesus to her mom’s secret to dodging a speeding ticket; she’ll tell all on July 18th and 25th at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, here’s a sneak peak into Carrera’s irreverent mind.
Our Town: Did you always want a comedy career?
Lianna Carrera: Never crossed my mind until college [when] a buddy saw me hosting an event. She said, “You are a stand-up comedian! You have to try this!” Someone ended up videotaping me and putting me online, [and] from there people started calling from other organizations. The local paper got wind and referred to me as “professional stand-up comedian, Lianna Carrera,” [but] it wasn’t until I was accepted into The Second City’s Comedy Studies Program in 2007 that I figured I could actually be a professional.
OT: How was coming out to your father?
LC: Luckily, my father has always emphasized the importance of living your faith rather than talking about it. No fire and brimstone sermon from him; rather, he took a few Sundays off from church and brought me to worship with GLBT affirming congregations. He wanted me to see GLBT people who were comfortable in their skin and even more so in their faith. He wanted to show me I wasn’t expelled from the church because I’d chosen to be honest.
OT: Some of your comedy deals with your mom's deafness. Any reservations?
LC: Comics approach all kinds of issues deemed “sensitive” in everyday life. It’s our job to find the funny. The jokes about my Mom are personal, true-to-life. People might feel sorry for my mother because she’s deaf; I never for a moment let them. My mother doesn’t see it as a disadvantage but as a gift. There might be many reasons to feel bad for my mother; for instance she’s got a pain-in-the-ass kid using her parenting as stand-up, but her deafness is not of those reasons.
OT: How do you hone materiel?
LC: I keep a journal, more of a haphazard stack of napkins I’ve jotted ideas on. The other day I looked at a napkin and it said “Vagina Fruit,” that … confused me. Next, I watch footage of previous shows, almost always the most painful part of the process. I decide what to keep and what goes. When I have something that resembles a running order, I record myself delivering the set.
OT: You joke that you only date straight women. Why?
LC: Not like I have a rule where I only date straight women. This past year has brought a lot of soul-searching. In previous relationships I described the girl as “right for me because she has x,y,z qualities!” I am starting to suspect that true love sounds more like, “[She’s] right! And I have to deal with x,y,z qualities?!” [But] if you’ve figured out how to love someone, and they you, then you’ve figured out something far greater than sexual orientation.
OT: Describe your favorite Chicago activity.
LC: Attending the Classical Music series at Millennium Park. There is nothing like lying on the grass with friends, drinking wine and listening to a concerto. After the concert ends, I am far less classy. My friends and I pack our bags with beers and walk on down to the lake. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had 10 bucks to my name, Chucks on my feet, a 40 in my hand and felt like king of the world.