Tammy takes comedy very seriously
Tammy Pescatelli got pregnant and her manager assumed her career was over.
There weren’t many expectant stand-up comedians performing in 2007.
For six months, she kept the news quiet and hid her belly, but once her son was born, she hit the ground running.
“I have so much going on, I’m just trying to keep my sanity right now,” laughed Ms Pescatelli, who has been called “the hardest-working woman in comedy”.
She will perform tomorrow and Saturday as part of Just for Laughs Bermuda. Her show, Way After School Special, appears on Amazon Prime this month, and in April the 50-year-old is part of a Showtime special, Women of a Certain Age.
She’s “excited” about her first visit here. The comedian grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, in an Italian-American family. Her two brothers were stronger and faster, but she “was a smart mouth”.
Ms Pescatelli remembers smuggling one of Eddie Murphy’s concert videos into the house, watching it over and over again in a closet until the tape wore out.
“I could recite it verbatim,” she said.
She lasted a year working as a waitress while hosting a morning radio show before deciding to pursue comedy full time.
“I did a million different things to make money to make sure the bills got paid,” she said.
Her big break came in 2001 when she was accepted on the Just for Laughs series New Faces.
“From there, I got an agent and manager,” she said.
It also got her on The Tonight Show and, in 2004, the reality series Last Comic Standing, where she made it to the final five.
Fame isn’t her goal.
“Whatever attention I needed when I first got on stage has been satiated,” she said, explaining that her pride comes from being able to maintain her career and support her son.
She has faced an uphill battle against sexism during her 25 years in the industry. When she first started, each show’s line-up usually had a one-woman limit and females weren’t comfortable making fun of themselves.
“We went out of the way to tell jokes as comedians, not as women,” she said.
Things have improved, but mainly for younger women, Ms Pescatelli believes.
“There is still a stigma on being an old lady on stage, but you don’t need help when you have talent,” she said. “[Meanwhile] the stigma of women not being funny has never gone away.
“We get these backhanded comments like, ‘I don’t usually enjoy women comedians, but you’re funny.’”
Her advice to other females who want to get into the business is “be true to yourself” and “get on stage as much as you can”.
• Just for Laughs Bermuda runs at the Earl Cameron Theatre tonight and the Fairmont Southampton tomorrow, Friday and Saturday. Tammy Pescatelli, Alonzo Bodden, Ronny Chieng, Jonathan Young, Adam Christie and Donnell Rawlings will perform. For details and tickets, visit www.bdatix.bm
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