By Megan Wadding, March 26, 2015. | Read more in “The Dinah Turns 25.”
Echo: This is your first time performing at The Dinah, are you excited?
Goldberg: I’m stoked. I’ve been there a couple times as a guest. It’s going to be an incredible 25th anniversary; I can’t wait to get out there.
Echo: How do you write material for an all-lesbian crowd?
Goldberg: I think with an all-lesbian audience, you’re basically playing to your community. In order to get people to laugh, they have to be able to relate to your material, so it’s the perfect breeding ground for lesbian material. You feel out your audience and if they’re reacting to the material, you keep it. If not, you change it on the spot and give them what they want.
Echo: How would you describe your comedic style?
Goldberg: Smart and edgy. I can definitely get a little dirty, but I’m not a crass comedienne. My comedy is the kind that will make you laugh when the joke comes out and then repeat it later.
Echo: What’s your background? How did you get started?
Goldberg: When I was 17, I decided to do a 10-minute standup routine for the high school talent show and I won. Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I was growing up, I said a stand-up comedienne, which was very weird as a child.
Echo: Were you funny as a child?
Goldberg: My kindergarten teacher told my mother I was the funniest five-year-old she had ever met. I was bored and got trouble in class a lot. I think I had a really good sense of humor since I was young.
Echo: What comedians inspire you?
Goldberg: Growing up, I watched a lot of the old comic relief. I still cry whenever I see Robin Williams’ videos or pictures. He was brilliant. And Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg. I kind of studied them not knowing I was studying them. Now it’s my colleagues, like Suzanne Westenhoefer, Gloria Bigelow and Erin Foley and all the brilliant women and men who I learn from, look up to and share a stage with.
Echo: What are your jokes about? What do you like to talk about?
Goldberg: The Dinah is a party weekend, but I’ll definitely hit on politics because of everything that is happening nationally. I’m good at making people laugh at the most serious topics. My family is a very funny Jewish family. My ex-girlfriend and my present girlfriend both come up in my show.
Echo: What other projects are you currently involved with?
Goldberg: I’ve been touring nationally. I do a ton of work with the Human Rights Campaign and I’ll be doing several of their dinners. I’m working on a sitcom pilot that hopefully we’ll be able to take to network at some point.
Echo: Are you going to stay the weekend? What are you looking forward to most?
Goldberg: I’m definitely staying Thursday and Friday. I want to be there for the Meghan Trainor concert.
Echo: This will be your second time performing at The Dinah. What is it like?
Bigelow: I think the thing about The Dinah is that everyone is there to have a good time so everyone wants to laugh and have fun. Sometimes, you’ll get in front of an audience and you know you’ll have to work hard to make the people laugh. But The Dinah feels like entertaining in your home. You want to have a good time, I want to have a good time, let’s have fun.
Echo: Are your jokes different when it’s all lesbians?
Bigelow: For this kind of audience, [my set] is probably going to be pretty gay. Normally, I kind of tend to be like, topical, social and political, and I’m usually commenting on some part of my identity, whether it’s the black part, the gay part or the woman part. I don’t think that will change, but I think I’m definitely going to dust off my fun, lesbian material and find some inspiration while I’m there too.
Echo: Did you always have an interest in comedy?
Bigelow: I grew up watching a lot of comedy and my parents were really into comedy. I watched a lot of comedy that was not appropriate for me to be watching as a kid. Growing up, you didn’t really see a lot of black, female comics that I could personally relate to. But I had no idea that [stand-up comedy] was a profession, or something that I could do.
Echo: How did you get started in comedy?
Bigelow: I got a master’s degree in acting, but I just didn’t like the whole acting thing. I didn’t like the auditioning; I didn’t like the trying to be small and not eating anything. But then I met a woman one night at a party right after I had just moved to New York City, and at the end of the conversation she was like, “Wow, you should try stand-up.” She told me to write about stuff that makes me angry. I started writing and writing. I still tell some of those jokes that I wrote back then.
Echo: What and who inspire you?
Bigelow: I’m inspired by comedy in general. I used to live in New York City and on a Friday night I used to love to just go from club to club and just watch people do their thing. I like comedy that says something. I’ve always liked George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Wanda Sykes and people who have something to say about the world, but do it in a funny way.
Echo: What other projects are you currently working on?
Bigelow: I’m working on a book about my misadventures in New York City and I’m working on putting out a comedy story album, which will be released later this spring.
Echo: Will you be staying for the whole Dinah weekend?
Bigelow: I stay the whole time, whether I’m performing or not. Me and a couple of friends get a house and stay for the whole thing. We’ve probably gone to about six of them.
Echo: Are you excited to perform at The Dinah?
Leffert: I’ve never performed there before, but I’ve been there before. I’m super excited.
Echo: Is your preparation for an all-lesbian show different than a regular show?
Leffert: I think lesbians are smarter, so the jokes need to be smarter. I’ve performed for mainly a mainstream club and to survive in clubs, you have to appease men. But I think this is going to be great. I have a lot of respect for the audience. I’m pulling out my best A game.
Echo: What were you like as a child? Was your family funny?
Leffert: It’s something I grew up doing. Being funny was valued pretty highly in my household. My brother was the funny one and I was younger and I think I was trying to steal some of his spotlight.
Echo: How did you first get involved in comedy?
Leffert: My background is in theater. I grew up with a desire to be an actress. I’ve been in more than 20 plays. Comedy was my calling and I didn’t realize it. My two best friends, who don’t know each other, pushed me. One of my friends told me she was jumping into a comedy class and it sort of incited this jealous feeling inside of me. It created a healthy competition.
Echo: What is your comedic style? Who’s style do you admire?
Leffert: I’m always looking for some sort of social commentary that I can make funny. I really have been watching Margaret Cho. She has this San Francisco vibe that I know very well and she is so hilarious. I was watching her talk about real things and have a real message and then make it extremely hilarious, and I thought, that’s what I want to do.
Echo: Who are your favorite comedians?
Leffert: My number one will always be Richard Pryor. I just feel deep about him. He just makes me love him, care about him, I want to cry for him, but laughing all the time. That’s what I grew up with. Also Eddie Murphy. I guess I don’t think of him as an influence, but I guess he is.
Echo: What other projects are you currently working on?
Leffert: One of my friends had me host the premiere of the movie Crazy Bitches. It just got released on iTunes. It’s a really hilarious comedy. Now we’re working on the tour. The storyline is campy and fun. I’m also a documentary filmmaker and I have a film under review for distribution at a pretty major network right now. It’s a youth soccer documentary about a team that I followed around to the national championships twice. It’s about the stories of who they are. I’m just crossing my fingers. I’m writing a script with somebody too. I have my hands in a lot of pots.
Echo: Do you plan to stay for the other Dinah events?
Leffert: I would be remiss not to hang out and be there. It’s like Burning Man for ladies.