What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they're comedians? No, that's not it. It is a fact, though, that America's biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a new recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York's vibrant comedy scene. It's called Meet Me In New York.
Now take a look at Giulia Rozzi. Two 'i's, one 'g', all good. You may have seen Giulia Rozzi performing with her friend Margot Leitman in their monthly sexy funny comedy showcase, Stripped Stories, or as a nominee last year for ECNY's best female stand-up comedian. She also has something in common with me. And you'll probably never guess what it is. Ha! Either way, get to know a little bit more about her, right here, right now.
Name: Giulia Rozzi
Arrival date: January 2004, then I tried to escape in 2006 but came crawling back in 2008.
Arrived from: Los Angeles the first time, Boston the second time.
When and where did you start performing comedy? Hmmmm first time ever was at a high school talent show in my hometown of Belmont, MA, followed by two open mics at Nick's Conedy Stop on Boston and a few student shows in Ithaca, NY, where I went to college. But I really started at The Comedy Store in L.A.
What was your best credit before moving here? I had a small part in a sketch on The Jimmy Kimmel Show with wrestler Mick Foley
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? I first picked LA 🙂 But it was too far from home and I didn't feel like I was moving forward there. I was young without any work ethic so much of my time was spent tanning, smoking pot, and hoping I'd get discovered. I came to get my ass kicked and it did in fact get kicked.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? I think I made $25 doing a guest spot on someone's show at Carolines my first year here. I'm not sure, whatever it was, it wasn't much.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? I remember when I did my solo show my first year in NYC and there were other comics in the audience. I assumed they were there early for their own shows and were passing time by watching mine, but then I learned they specifically came to see me and "support me." Support? That's when I realized NYC has a really amazing community of comedians that respect, support and are actually friends with one another. Not to say you can't find that in L.A., you can, I just think it's stronger in NYC probably cause we're all in this gritty struggle not just career-wise but city life wise, so we cling together whereas in L.A., the career pressure is of course hard, but you can shake it off by hiking a gorgeous mountain in the sunshine or by lying on a beautiful beach. Here it's a harder life, which for me, forced me to work harder. NYC also has more shows, more venues, more self-produced opportunities, I like that. However L.A. has more casting opportunities which now (after my NYC training as a comic and actor) I feel ready for but I'm on the wrong coast! My other gripes about NY are mostly about stereotypical city things like the small apartment sizes, high rents, it's overcrowded, dirty, blah blah. And I miss the L.A. sunshine. I miss that a lot.
Do you already have an "only in New York City" moment yet? Um countless moments! Let's see, there's riding in a cab with a crazy driver who stopped traffic to scream racial slurs at an innocent couple. Eating in a pizza place on 2nd Ave where a rat the size of a dog fell out of a loose tile in the ceiling and landed a few feet away from my slice, I jumped on the table and screamed and the counter guys ignored it as though this happened often. Oh, and there was the morning where I woke up to the sound of cops screaming "drop the knife!" at a mugger who was holding a woman hostage across the street from my friend's apartment. I then watched the cops shoot and kill the mugger as I fearfully wimpered in the window curtains. Yeah I've had a few "only in New York" moments.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? Go to lots of shows, introduce yourself to people, talk to other comics, get to know the scene and figure out where you feel like you fit then start to ask for stage time. There are lots of venues and shows here, get to know what's what. You don't want to send a stand-up booking request to someone producing a sketch show. And don't just email random bookers expecting stage time. I did that. I emailed people expecting spots, they'd reply "who the hell are you?" I'd answer "Giulia Rozzi, you know from LA? (as if that was a credit) and they'd reply "Like I said, who the hell are you?" Again, go and check things out, people like putting faces with names and seeing that you made the effort to get out there. Also don't expect anyone to do the work for you. I sometimes get emails from new comedians I barely (if at all) know asking me for favors. A few months ago I had a person who I have never met email me and ask me if I could: introduce her to my agent, get her some paid gigs, recommend her for a writing job, and get her on MTV! Um, I'm having a hard enough time getting my own career to where I want it to be, no I can't, as she so manipulatively put it, "hook up a fellow female artist, you know we got to stick together." No, no we do not. Just buy a Time Out, go to shows, do your best, and try not to become a depressed alcoholic. Work hard and be yourself, it'll all be okay (I hope!)
Where do you see yourself five years from now? Living with my beau, puppy, and maybe (maybe!) a baby in homes I own in both NYC and L.A. where I play a regular character on a fantastic sitcom or amazing HBO or Showtime series (ideally one I also co-produce and write for). Acting in films. Writing another book. Helping other comedians, actors and writers get their own projects off the ground. Finally giving my parents that trip to Hawaii I always promised I'd give them if they help support me as I followed my dreams. Knowing that all the struggle was well worth it.
You can see Giulia Rozzi in her monthly Stripped Stories showcase with Margot Leitman tonight at the UCB Theatre in NYC (other Stripped Stories dates here), as well as a new Monday-nighter called Laughs at Luca Lounge, Dec. 21 and every Monday starting in January 2010 in Alphabet City (or is it just called the East Village now?). Either way, here's a video of Rozzi doing her stand-up thing recently at Comix. Roll it!
Which NYC comedian would you like to see me style and profile next for Meet Me In New York? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com