Creatively Speaking: Jackie Hoffman
You may know Jackie Hoffman from her roles in the Broadway musicals Xanadu and Hairspray, for which she won the 2003 Theatre World Award, or her TV appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm or Conan O'Brien, or perhaps her film roles in Kissing Jessica Stein or Garden State. She was also the voice of Dilmom on Dilbert. But if you missed her in all of the above, you can get to know her now in the next of our ongoing interview series, Creatively Speaking.
And be sure to tune back in tomorrow for a chance to win an advance copy of Jackie's new comedy CD: Live at Joe's Pub. The album contains her best original savage songs and stand-up. The New York Times calls her "Endearingly bitter, explosively funny"¦ Hoffman is fearless when it comes to her material." Time Out New York simply calls her "the funniest woman in America!"
DI: You got your start with Chicago's legendary Second City improv troupe. Who were some of your mentors there?
JH: You probably want me to mention famous people, but really, my teachers, Martin Demott, Mick Napier, I loved watching Dan Castalenetta, Joe Liss, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello.
DI: Was comedy something you always knew you wanted to do from a young age? In other words: What did you want to be when you grew up?
JH: Exactly who I am now.
DI: What's the biggest difference between a Second City education, and, say, an Upright Citizen's Brigade background?
JH: Good Question. I think that UCB is a very successful offshoot of Second City. Second City is steeped in tradition that goes back to 1959. When you perform at Second City, you perform for every type of person there is, for a more general audience. UCB tends to get one age group in there. But the teachers are amazing improvisers. They do great stuff in that place.
DI: What was your first big break?
JH: I would call Hairspray the first big job. That came about when one part was cut down for an actress who could do 3 smaller roles. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (composer and lyricist) saw me perform in an Amy and David Sedaris play called; Book of Liz, and knew I could do it.
DI: You've been on Conan's show a number of times. Do you still get nervous before coming out and facing a live, national TV audience?
JH: I always get nervous when I face an audience as myself. When I play a character, I'm still nervous, though not as nervous.
DI: Who writes your material?
JH: I write myself. I sometimes co-write with the person who directs my solo shows, Michael Schiralli.
DI: What's the story with the CD? How did it come about?
JH: I have written lyrics that are super funny and nasty for a long time. I have gotten amazing composers, Broadway and cabaret people, to write incredible tunes for them. I would perform them at my solo shows at Joe's Pub and all over town. I finally decided to get them all on CD with some stand up. It's long overdue.
DI: Of all the work you've done, is there a role you're most proud of?
JH: "The Book of Liz," which I mentioned earlier, I won an Obie for that one. I was playing multiple characters who were comic and dramatic as well. I also performed in Wendy Wasserstein's play "The sisters Rosensweig". I portrayed the role originated by Madeline Kahn. That was a delicious monster of a part.
DI: What advice do you have for aspiring comedians/comic actors?
JH: I don't.
DI: No but seriously...
JH: Go with the truth.
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