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 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.
Gina Brillon identifies as a native New Yorker, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Don’t worry about any sort of Gina from the block motif going on here, though. Besides, if you want a local go-to celebrity endorsement, just check your Twitters. Brillon received a shout-out just yesterday on Twitter from Rosie Perez, who wrote to her: “Like your work 🙂 Funny stuff.” Brillon has appeared on Comedy Central and Si TV, and snagged a full-page in the New York Daily News “Viva New York” section. In 2004 and 2005, Brillon performed in the NYC Underground Comedy Festival. If you’re lucky, someday you’ll see her in a sitcom based on her stand-up. So why don’t you get to know her now?
Name: Angelina Brillon (Gina for short)
Arrival date: I was born in NYC so I don’t really know how to answer this one
Arrived from: Well, I guess from my mom’s womb….
When and where did you start performing comedy? I started in New York when I was 17 years old. I really got into the scene when I was in college. I started doing a club called HA! I’m sure everyone has heard of it. I did two shows a night every night of the week and I was a full-time student with two, sometimes three waitressing jobs. Some of the guys would see me in the back of clubs writing papers and doing homework. I have a lot of comedy brothers who have watched me grow up in the biz.
What was your first credit? The first credit I ever got was for Comedy Central. It was a commercial where I did a 30-second bit from my act, it was called “Fresh Faces of Comedy,” but even if you saw it now you wouldn’t recognize me because I was BLEACH BLONDE!! LOL it looked awful and it’s documented on television.
How did growing up in NYC shape your desire to be in show business? NYC has this energy, it pushes you. At least it did for me. I had (and still have) a desire to conquer this city. I would walk around in Times Square and see all the ads for Broadway plays, one man/woman shows, stand-up comedy shows, and I would practically be drooling at the mouth. It was stand-up that finally won my heart.
Did growing up in NYC make it any easier to launch your comedy career here? Growing up in NYC made it so much easier for me to launch my comedy career because of all the opportunities to network and get on stage. I always tell newer comics that starting in NYC is like going to comedy boot camp. You have so many opportunities to get on stage and grow as a performer. The crowds here are not easy at all so you have to put in work when you hit that stage. It is such a great place to get your stage legs.
Have you ever considered moving to L.A. or elsewhere to further your career? IF they will pay me every day for the rest of my life, I will think about moving to LA but I would never go there without a game plan. LA is not a place you up and relocate to without having the right connections to get work. The clubs are very limited and pay is very low for a comic. If you go out there with no game plan (in my experience) it will be a struggle. Eventually we all go out there for work, but that is usually set up before you get there and when it’s done you come right back. LA has a life of its own and the ambiance is so different to NY, I will admit that the mentality out there is all business and the weather really motivates you to get out there and get stuff done. I’m a die-hard New Yorker, so unless I absolutely have to I don’t see a permanent move there.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? To any newcomer just moving to NYC or just starting out in NYC, I would always say make the right connections. Look at the people who are where you want to be and try to link up with them. Don’t just work hard, work smart. Sadly, the business in my opinion is about 45% talent and the rest connections. I wish it was the other way around, but I know how the game works and I think anyone who’s been in it for a while would agree. That’s not to say don’t work on your craft — by all means, take pride in your work. Just know that networking with the right crowd is just as important.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? Five years from now I’m hoping to have done my first film. Maybe two or three, if possible and to still be doing stand-up but not in clubs. I love theaters and I want to be able to sell them out. Go big or go home.
Brillon performs at clubs around NYC and colleges across the country. This Thursday, she’ll be at Gotham Comedy Club. For updates, check out the Gina Brillon Facebook fan page or her home page.
Here’s a clip from this summer when she headlined Levity Live, just outside the city. 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