Comic | Parent | Author
I’m the youngest of six kids from a strict Irish-Catholic family. The only way to tell the truth in my house and not get killed for it was to make my parents laugh. So I did. But at school I was the shy, asthmatic kid. Then in 4th grade things changed. I’d just gotten back from another two-week stint in the hospital skinnier and weirder than I was before, which is really saying something. I was sitting there eating my lunch. To my left was the girl that wet her pants. To my right was the girl that brought calves’ brains for lunch. I said to myself, “I gotta find a way to turn this shizz around or we are going DOWN.” Kids were always asking me why I was in the hospital or why I was so skinny, so I made up a song about having asthma to the tune of “Locomotion” called “Suffocation.” It killed.
I used to sneak downstairs to watch Carson and Letterman after my parents had gone to bed. I had to keep the volume very low so I’d sit on the carpet right next to the tv with my knees pulled up into my nightgown watching Steven Wright, Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr. I was falling asleep in math class but my late night education was far more valuable to my everyday life.
I figured the logical path for a wannabe comedian who was the first of her family to go away to college was to become a lawyer, but I took a few law classes and realized it was not nearly as fun as “Night Court” had led me to believe. I graduated, got a job I hated and spent my downtime searching for ways not to kill myself. I saw an ad for a stand-up comedy class at the New School. The first night the instructor invited people to volunteer to go to the front of the class and try out some jokes. A woman got up wearing a hat made of aluminum foil, holding a Barbie dressed in aluminum foil. She put on a really high-pitched voice as “Barbie from Mars.”
“Hi, I’m Barbie from Mars,” she said, moving the doll up and down on each word. “These are some of the ways that Mars is different from Earth…”
and proceeded with a list that included “atmosphere” and “soil” with a lot of long thought breaks in between. Next up, an older guy who looked really down and out. He had holes in his shoes, holes in his too-big clothes, and was in desperate need of a shave and a shower. When you were standing in the front of the classroom, stage left was the door to get out, stage right was a broom closet. He went on a tirade about the government, then told us that he was was taking this class, “Because I need to tell people! You need to know! I need to tell people because they need to know about what’s going on! You’re all so stupid! You’re STUPID! You have no idea what’s going on!” He went on like this, getting louder and more agitated until he finally stormed off stage right, into the the broom closet.
And then he just stayed there. For the whole rest of the class.
He’d made a dramatic exit and, by God, he was seeing it through. One by one people got up and did their five minutes with the teacher giving notes after each one, and the guy was still in the broom closet. I couldn’t figure out if this was Andy Kauffman meta comedy genius or just a lot of mentally ill people in one place, but I found open mics less scary than telling jokes while waiting for the guy to pop out of the broom closet.
I was once paid in Riccola cough drops. I performed at a charity event and they wanted to pay me but I said no and they said yes and I said no and then they walked away and came back and said, “Well at least take these. We insist!” and handed me two giant-sized Ziploc bags bursting with Riccola cough drops. “Um…OK.” No one ever offered any explanation of why Riccola cough drops. Or why they weren’t in any sort of commercial packaging. Like maybe, “My last name is Riccola and we had these lying around our house so I collected them in these Ziploc bags.” Just hundreds and hundreds of individually wrapped lemon-honey cough drops. If the entire Metropolitan Opera had a cold, they could not use all of these cough drops. I just keep moving them. The cough drops have lived in an apartment and two houses.
“Eileen Kelly is a comedic writer/performer to see. She has a unique and extremely funny take on her life and family.”Kirsten Ames
“Hilarious!”New York Post
“Eileen Kelly brought the house down at the Andes Hotel. We can’t wait for her return!”Joanne Genelle
“You were truly fantastic on Saturday! You are the talk of the town!”Sarah Killick
“Hysterically funny!” Karen Burns, Talent Coordinator for CASA fundraiserKaren Burns
“Kelly had her audience’s full attention. When she began her routine, a noisy crowd of patrons yacked at the bar. When she finished, however, you could hear a pin drop between intermittent outbursts of laughter.”Glen Ridge Voice