Alicia Coppola is heading back to her native East Coast to perform at Carolines on Broadway on Tuesday, June 14 at 7:00 PM. The talented actress is adding “stand-up comedian” to her lengthy resume, which already boasts roles in The Young and the Restless, Teen Wolf, Jericho, and more. A writer, actress, comedian, and mother of three, Alicia discusses her inspiration, experience, the road ahead, and how to “find the funny.” She shares great stories, and many, many laughs.
Carolines on Broadway: Thanks to your extensive acting credits in a variety of shows and movies, you’re practically poised to set off on character work or a one-woman show. Have any roles in particular sparked comedic inspiration?
Alicia Coppola: Well, first of all, I love what you said about a one-woman show, because that’s kind of my goal. It’s been a goal of mine for a few years now, and I think doing the stand-up—which I just started in August last year on a lark, I took a class just for fun [and] it’s kind of turned into something—but that has been a goal of mine, to do a one-woman show. You know, I started out my career on MTV on Remote Control with Adam Sandler, and Denis Leary, and Colin Quinn, and Mario Joyner, and Ken Ober, so I learned from the best people in the business. There’s really only two people who think I’m funny—that’s Chuck Lorre and Jon Turteltaub—because that just wasn’t what I was hired for initially. But I think I really loved being, kind of, the funny girl in Jericho, and I loved working with Charlie Sheen. I did two shows with him. And I think he’s very funny. He’s very dry, so I learned from him.
COB: You just joined the cast of Cowgirl’s Story, and play Dr. Meredith Gates and Agent Lisa Rand in The Young and the Restless and NCIS: Los Angeles, respectively. How do you balance all of this with a budding comedy career?
AC: Nothing is a regular gig. I did the movie; I wrapped that. And NCIS: Los Angeles is down right now, so they’ll probably start up in July, and hopefully they’ll call me back. It’s never all at the same time.
COB: Soap operas tend to employ more drama than comedy. Did you find yourself exploring humor on the set of Another World at all?
AC: On Another World, not so much. I was able to use some of who I am. I’m a funny person, I have a biting wit. I was able to use some of that, but I was also incredibly young at the time, and my father had just died. So [...] I wasn’t really in a fun mood for those years, which is I think why I got the role, and why the role was so very popular at the time, because I was just acting out. I was able to just be who I am, and not be a happy 22-year-old girl. There’s that. But I definitely use it on The Young and the Restless. I definitely try to review some of the writing with my humor. And they’ve been very gracious about letting me do that.
COB: Your very first acting credit on record is an uncredited role as “Dukakis’ Party Guest” in 1988 on Saturday Night Live. So, has comedy always been a genre you’ve looked to pursue?
AC: You know that’s so funny because somebody tweeted that. Somebody tweeted that they were in a meeting, and that was discussed. And I tweeted back, like, “What in the hell kind of meeting were you in that this was a topic of conversation?” And then I got Matthew Modine involved because he was hosting [The SNL episode]. That was a modeling gig. I was modeling at the time. I think I was 20 [or] 19. I think I had just come off of MTV, and I think that was a gig that was sent out through my modeling agency at the time. But I didn’t say anything, I don’t think. I think I just stood there and looked pretty—which is pretty much what I still do. I just try to shut up and look pretty.
COB: Your book, Gracefully Gone, deals with grief and the journey of coping with devastating news. Have any of your previous, more somber creative endeavors influenced your standup material?
AC: Yeah. [In] my set for Carolines, I talk about cancer, I talk about my father’s death, I talk about my father-in-law who just died a month ago, I talk about [when] I went through a year of post-partum depression after I had my third daughter who was a surprise, so yeah. I find, for me, even in my book, much of my humor is in there. Dying is…you have to find the humor. I find that in my darkest times, in the darkest, darkest times in my life, I have always tried to find the funny. Because if you can’t find the funny, you’re in deep shit. It’ll just be way too much. You have to laugh, you know? You just have to laugh.
COB: As you head to Carolines for your New York comedy debut, do you think growing up in Long Island influenced your style of humor?
AC: Oh my god. I don’t know if it’s exciting, or, I don’t even know the word. Ridiculous? I don’t know. I’m terrified, but I’m excited. Well, first of all I come from a really big Italian-American family. That right there is funny, because everybody just fucking yells at each other. And just the way I raise my kids is funny, because my husband is also from upstate New York. It’s funny raising kids out here in L.A. versus the way we were raised in Long Island. You know, I always say today that back in the day when I was younger, our parents had no idea where we were. No idea. If we were not in the house, they had no idea where we were. Nowadays, we know exactly where our children are because we have GPS up their butts with these cell phones and everything, but we have no idea what they’re doing in the next room, with all their devices. We don’t know [whom] they could be talking to. I have no idea. […] So, I would say growing up in Long Island, yeah, Italians are funny people. And it was also a simpler time. It was a simpler time back then. It’s so complicated now. Life is just more complicated.
COB: As a mother of three, are you conscious of whether or not you’re a “clean” comic? Do you rehearse material with your kids or husband?
AC: I write my material. I will show it to my husband, but I get nervous doing that. So, I pretty much keep it to myself, and I have a mentor, a woman named Jodi Miller, who I was introduced to through my friend Chelsea Alexis. Both very, very funny women, but Jodi is a professional comic. In fact, she’s headlining in August at Carolines. So, she’s my mentor, and I go to her house or she comes over, and I run stuff with her. It wouldn’t be appropriate for my little girls – I mean some of it would be, [but] most of it wouldn’t be—not because of the language, just the content. We all have mouths like soldiers over here. Again, I’m from New York, so you know like my little one, she’s six years old, [and] ever since she was five, I would say to her, “How was school,” and she’d go, “It was total bullshit. It was bullshit. I learned nothing.” That’s my kid. Or, I remember my big one would just say, “Goddammit, when are we eating?” or “God’s sake.” Yeah, they’re all pretty funny.
COB: Will your voiceover talent make an appearance in your standup routines?
AC: Well, I’m not an impressionist. I don’t do—I do cars. I do, like, sexy tequila. I do hotels. I don’t do [impressions]. I don’t have that kind of talent. That is a gift, and one that I don’t have. I don’t possess that one. So, no—unless you’d like me to recite the tags for Acura.
COB: You call yourself a “funny Dame” in your twitter bio (@alicia_coppola). What does this mean to you? How do you use social media to share your humor?
AC: That’s a good question. Funny dame. Well, I think I am a bit of a throwback to a broad. I’m a broad. I mean, I’m a lady, but I’m a broad. I’m very sensitive, but I have a very bawdy sense of humor. I’m wry, and I can hang with the guys. I’m not easily offended, and I try not to take things so seriously. So, while I am a lady, I still can throw a couple back with the boys. You know what I mean? And also I think actually, even more important, I think today there’s version of a broad, which is a strong woman. I’m a wife. I’m a mother of three. I do more by noon than most people do by 6 pm. I think women today are badasses. And a different way of saying “badass” is to say “broad.” So, that’s what I think, broad and dame. And, I actually do sometimes work out a little bit of material unbeknownst to my followers, but there are just some funny things that my kids say. They say some really funny things. I wish I remembered some of them, but I remember there was this one, something about God. And my littlest told me, “Well, yes, she…she told me something before I came here,” something like that. But I do sometimes put into 140 characters something of a joke that my kids have said. Basically that is my comedy. My comedy, my voice—or what I’m hoping my voice is going to be—is to say the things that other moms think, but won’t say. And also, really, just having a pad and pencil ready at the red light for the things that come out of my kids’ mouths during carpool, because if we pay attention to what our little ones say, I mean, they come up with some beauts. They really do. Kids do say the darndest things. And I try, on social media, to just point out things that I find are funny, or that I find are poignant. I don’t know if that makes sense. I’m not very proficient at it. I try, but it’s like a full time job, having a Twitter, or Facebook, and all that. There are people out there who actually make money doing that.
COB: But you have a lot of followers.
AC: Yeah, but not as many. I’m trying to get more, but again, it is a day’s work to do that. Let me see. What else can I say about that? […] God, I wish I knew some of the funny things my kids have said. Hold on, let me look.
COB: It’s okay, I’m putting you on the spot.
AC: I know, you are. You’re putting me on the spot. I have some of them written down, let me think. And then I can give you an example. Hold on. Oh, okay. So, one time I tweeted Esmé. Esmé said once—she goes, “Mom, I figured out something. You can’t marry a cat, but you can ride a cow.” I was like, “Is that so?” She goes, “Yeah. Apparently people aren’t allowed to marry cats, but you can ride the cows.” I thought that was very, very funny. And then, Esmé and Greta were talking about friendship words. You know, like, “What is a friendship word? What is a nice word?” And then they started to fight. And Greta called Esmé an asshole. She’s like, “Stop being an asshole!” And Esmé was just like, “But Greta, that’s not a friendship word.” So, like, those kinds of things. I have tweeted those kinds of things. But again, I don’t even know what I’m doing. I just fell into this. But what I’m hoping to accomplish or to do is just, again, be the voice for the moms who think it, but won’t say it. So, I’ll say it. And maybe that also just comes with age, because when I was younger I was so nervous and I was such a people pleaser. I wanted everybody to like me, I didn’t want to offend anybody. I didn’t want people to not like me. You know what I mean? I needed to be liked. And now I don’t care. No, I really don’t care. My husband loves me, and my children love me, my family and my close friends love me, but that’s enough. That’s enough love. I’m good. I’m good. But I’m really excited to come, I really am. I mean, it’s just so surreal for me that I’m going to be standing on a stage in New York City at Carolines, where I used to go, like, when Greg and I were at NYU together. It’s just really, really full circle. I’m very excited about it. And my daughter is singing at Carnegie Hall the day before, with her school choir. It’s pretty cool, right?
COB: Pretty good couple of days for the family.
AC: I know, it’s a really exciting couple of days. We’re very excited about it. We truly are. So, that’s what I have to say. Do you have anything else?
COB: I think that’s everything I had to cover. You’ve given some great answers, especially that last little nugget about Carolines. I think that’s very special that you get to come back.
AC: Yeah, I mean it’s just, I remember—I want to say it was Carolines—seeing Caroline Rhea. I think was it. And probably Colin Quinn, those guys. You know, when I worked with them. To me, when I watch Colin—I mean Colin is one of the most brilliant men I have ever met. When I watched his one-man shows on HBO, like that last one about world history, I’m just in awe. I’m just in awe of him. These guys are just so—Adam [Sandler], Denis Leary—they’re just so talented. I feel very fortunate, and I really do think that whatever innate comic talent I had, I learned maybe [a sense of] timing from them. And also don’t forget, a lot of the most dramatic actors that I have worked with are very funny people. They’re super, super funny so I’ve been exposed to a lot, and I’ve been able to learn from the best. So, if I fail, it’s their fault, and I’m going to blame them.
COB: I’ll make a note of that.
AC: Yes, just make note of it. Just put a note up: if Alicia Coppola fails, it’s all their fault. And, if I succeed, it’s all their fault. Then, we applaud them. But, I’ve been really, really lucky. I mean, how many people can say that they started out with those guys? I mean, look where they are. They’re all so enormously, enormously talented. I can only hope to be, like, one smithereen of what they are. [What] I would like to say is that being a wife and a mom, a mother of three, has really given me not only the material, obviously, but the courage. If I can raise three kids in L.A., and have a successful marriage for as long as I have, then I can do this. You know what I mean? So, I’m just putting it all out there, and I’ll see what happens. Basically, I’m like one big bowl of spaghetti: I’m just going to see what sticks.
COB: Well, maybe we’ll be watching your one-woman show. That would be nice.
AC: Wouldn’t that be awesome? Yeah, I really have been thinking about it and thinking about it […]. And this standup is helping me to. Well it certainly will be at Carolines since it’s the first time that I will be up for that amount of time, which I’m really looking forward to, because I’m actually comfortable. I’m comfortable up there. Now, I just need to think about what I want to talk about it. But, I think definitely. Thank you for your support. So, when that happens I’m going to say that it’s your fault. So, there you go.
Alicia Coppola headlines on Tuesday, June 14 at 7:00 PM. Purchase tickets here or call our Box Office at 212.757.4100 for reservations.