TAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine has the chance to introduce to all our readers Roxy Rich, who is not only a stand-up comic, but also an actress and author. Roxy, we rarely have had the chance to interview someone of your caliber who has worked in all the fields that we introduce to our readership so this is a great opportunity for us. You began your entertainment career as a stand-up comic. How did this come about ?
RR- I was always on stage as a kid. And I was constantly singing or dancing or telling jokes on the playground, on a neighbor’s trampoline, wherever any one would listen. I loved entertaining people. I also wrote. My first poem was published in the school newspaper in the third grade. I’ve had several published since in other local papers, such as The Typhoon Lagoon Lifeguard Lament, which was published in Walt Disney World’s Monthly news when I worked there.
I was voted Funniest Person in Class in the tenth grade at Douglass Anderson School of Arts. I didn’t even know there was a category for that. Somehow, I just wound up in the year book with a picture of me in a Santa Costume!
I was always a writer and actor, and stand up came later.
RR- My first time on stage was in the first grade where I was a Russian Dancer in the Nutcracker. I loved it! After that, I auditioned every year for the Christmas play and landed the lead each time. Actually, I was supporting my senior year in The Marriage Bit. I played Imogene. I got a theatre scholarship to La Grange College in Georgia and got the part of Ouiser in Steel Magnolias.
It was also in college where I did my first stand-up. After seeing me in the play, a fellow student, Bobbi Oliver, asked me to perform a stand-up routine in her show, Lost Comedy. It was an SNL type show with stand-up and sketches. I was terrified! I told her, “I don’t write stuff! I’m an actor!” She told me to do those jokes I was telling at some party. Moi? Tell a joke at a party? I reluctantly agreed and fretted for two weeks trying to remember what on earth I had said and I wrote a few jokes. I also did my comic monologue that had won me the scholarship.
My emotions were mostly anxiety! I was excited, but very nervous. I’d always only been an actor. The first night, the jokes went well, and although people enjoyed the monologue, it really didn’t fit with the material I wrote, so I dropped it the second night and expanded the routine instead. At lunch after that weekend of shows, my peers were re-telling my jokes in the cafeteria. They also congratulated me and told me I was funny. I remember it was a bit surreal. Like, really?
I was hooked.
I began doing open-mics around town. When I went back to Florida, I performed at Bonkers Comedy Club in Orlando, The Comedy Zones, Groucho’s and other Clubs. In 1991, I won Funniest New Female Comic in a competition at Hilarities. I knew I would move to LA after that. I wanted to act and to do comedy and frankly, New York is COLD. So LA it was!
TAEM- You are a regular at The World Famous Comedy Store. How did you gain a spot with them, and who are some of the other comics that you worked with there ?
RR- Becoming a “Paid Regular” at the World Famous Comedy Store was quite a task. That title only means something to comedians. It means Mitzi Shore auditioned and passed you and she is known only to pass people she thinks have the potential to become stars.
I performed there for my first time in the summer of 1993. I was in LA six months before I had the courage to even go there. There’s a process. You have to sign up for their open-mic show and you only get three minutes. This happens once a week and names are drawn out of a hat, literally. You go up in the order your name came out. I did this for several years. Eventually, I asked for an audition. You can’t just get one, a comedian has to refer you. I finally found someone willing to recommend me and got an audition. I did not pass the first one, or many after that.
The audition process is three-fold. You get scheduled and you do three minutes. If Mitzi likes you, she asks you to come back the next week to do six minutes. If you make it through that, you are asked back to do twelve the following week.
I auditioned there for twelve years. It took that long before I was passed as a “NON-paid Regular.” This meant I could work out there and be booked upstairs, but not downstairs and for no pay. There are three rooms at the Comedy Store. Upstairs is the Belly Room. It’s small and intimate. This is where the non paids get booked. When you make paid regular, you are allowed to call in your availability and you get booked in the Original Room which is much larger and spread out differently. If you can work that room and do well, you can work anywhere. It’s full of walk by traffic which includes a lot of tourists so the crowd is eclectic. Your jokes have to appeal to all of them or you’re going to bomb.
Even once you make paid regular, competition is keen for spots. The best spots are in the middle, say around ten to midnight. The newbies get the 9:00 spot or the 1:00am spot. And you can hang around for hours and sometimes not even get on because a celebrity comic pops in and bumps everyone and does an hour which eats up all the time and the other comics get pushed back.
Once you are working regularly in the Original Room, Mitzi starts giving you the opening or closing spot in the Main Room. This is a gigantic room with an enormous stage and the house seats five hundred people. You get better and better spots as time goes on. It’s a long process, but she actually really has the comic working on their act and they gradiently get funnier and funnier. It’s an intelligent process, really.
I worked as a non-paid regular for three years. I auditioned some five or six times to become a paid regular and didn’t get it. One day, I get a call that Mitzi wants to see me. I schedule for that Sunday. At the time I had a job and was earning four to six hundred dollars a day on Sunday. I had to leave the job to get to the audition. Four times, I showed up only to find that Mitzi had cancelled due to illness or incident. But when I got rescheduled, man, I went.
When I got off stage that night, I knew I had killed it. The other comics told me so, too, which is saying something. Comics are honest. If you aren’t funny, they say nothing. I heard a lot of silence in my early years! I didn’t get invited back to do six minutes but I kept showing up to do my other sets and each time, the talent coordinator told me that Mitzi kept talking about me and how well I did. One day, three weeks later, he calls me and said, “Are you sitting down?” I sat down. “Mitzi says you’re a paid regular.”
So I actually did not have to go back for the next two auditions.
I think I was so stunned I just went quiet. He said, “Roxy?” I am not sure if I jumped up and down or whooped but whatever I did, it ended in my crying tears of joy and relief and of pride. This was hard. It took persistence and it took me really working on my show to become a funny comic. I had done it, finally. And she worked me, too. About two nights a week paid and two in the non-paid room. I took them all. This was September of 2004. I had moved to LA in December of 1992. Twelve years.
My name is on the wall facing Sunset Boulevard. Doesn’t mean much to anyone else, but to me, it’s a huge personal win.
Working there is a win, too. I have seen amazing talent there. I’ve been on the same show with Dat Phan, Alonzo Bodden, Bobby Lee, Wheels Parise, Vinnie Coppola, Mike Ricca, Eddie Griffin, Vicki Barbolak, Jeff Richards of SNL and a slew of other hilarious comics. I came off stage one night in the Belly Room only to walk downstairs and see George Carlin on the Main Room stage. Bloody Hell! That was cool. And I saw Richard Pryor every week for a few months before he died, and Damon Wayans, so incredibly funny. I met Byron Alan, too. What a nice guy. He was talking about show business and how Jay Leno called NBC and asked for that job on the Tonight Show. It never ends. No matter how big you get, you still have to press people to give you work! Too many comics to mention, but it’s really cool to work there and meet these people.
TAEM- Please tell our readers about some of the other well known clubs that you appeared in.
RR- I’ve worked at most of the LA Clubs. The Laugh Factory, The Improv, The Jon Lovitz Comedy Club in Universal City. I featured at the Edgewater Casino in Laughlin and am scheduled back there September 21st-23.
RR- I was headlining Wolf’s Comedy Den which is actually the old Debbie Reynolds Theatre. It is in the Clarion Casino which is just off the main strip. While there, I also did a guest spot over in the King’s Room at The Rio. That was awesome!
TAEM- Please describe your act and the type of audiences that have become your fans.
RR- My act is diverse. Most of it is about being single and dating, what it is really like for a girl to be on a date and I also have material on working in retail. Lately, I’ve been working on other material as well, my age, living alone, these types of things. My fans are women and men, surprisingly. I don’t insult men in my act. The way I’ve worded my material is funny to both. Interestingly to me, older crowds really like my style and material, which I think is cool.
TAEM- You also have acting experience in your repertoire. Tell us about this aspect of your career.
RR- Most of my acting experience is from before I moved to LA. A lot of stage. I audition a lot here, but competition is very stiff. I’m just another blonde. Apparently, my casting is “Trashy woman!” which is hilarious. I come off the road as a celebrity from some tour and wind up at an audition that is two syllables. That’s just the way it is. I’ve been to producers twice for a couple of shows, one was My name is Earl. In the end, the role was scrapped so I didn’t work it. Welcome to show business!
TAEM- Your latest foray is your book Roxy does Retail. We heard a lot that goes into it stems from your own personal experiences. Please explain this to our readers and tell us something about the book.
RR- Roxy does Retail is really a rule book for shoppers. It’s not your average etiquette book. It’s not, “Please dear customer, mind your manners.” It’s “Listen Bitch, stop it!” The book has some very funny stories from my experience in customer service, primarily in boutiques. It explains why certain behavior is rude and says what a person should do under the circumstances at hand. It is funny, but it’s also not funny in some places. It’s straight talk from a salesperson to a customer. It’s a peek into the salesgirl’s head, like what you would hear if you were a fly on the wall after a rude person left. It isn’t for the faint hearted! As I upbraid bad behavior throughout the book, I end it with a chapter on what “The Perfect Customer” is and how they behave and show why if one applies the tenants of the book, she will get excellent service and a slew of perks.
TAEM- When will our readers be able to see your book ?
RR-It isn’t in stores yet. I just had an exclusive book signing party in Burbank across from Warner Brother’s Studio. The guests were able to purchase a book right there and I signed them. It was very exciting for me! Your readers can purchase the book online from several venues: createspace ( an Amazon affiliate) and on Amazon.com. It is available in paperback and digital format. My website has all of the links to get the book. It is: www.roxyrich.com
TAEM- Do you plan on a second book and where can our readers see some of your upcoming performances ?
RR- I am working on my next book, Boutique Girl, which will redeem me for this last one! This one is about the salesperson, not the customer. It’s basis is on truly helping the customer and will have all of my tips and tricks for styling, how to close sales and also how to behave toward your customers so you give excellent service.
My show schedule is on my website. It is easily negotiated. There’s links on the left side of the page where readers can click to see the schedule page, pictures of me, pictures of my shows and other comics I have worked with and tons of other fun stuff including my interviews on the Press Page.
TAEM- Roxy, you are surely a well-rounded entertainer, and adding a book to your resume is a great idea. We want to thank you for your time in this interview with us and sincerely wish you luck in all that you do.
RR: The pleasure is mine. I am so grateful to you for having me for an interview. Thank you so much!