Whitney Cummings: I'm Your GirlfriendWhitney Cummings: I'm Your Girlfriend

Whitney Cummings Dives Into the Socially Unacceptable

  • How would you describe your comedic persona?

  • It evolved. Every special has gone deeper, and gotten more raw and authentic. I almost feel that even though this is my third hour-stand-up special, in a way, it?s my first. My first two specials, I was 26 and 28 or something. Who knows who they are at 26? I thought I was so smart and had it all figured out. Then life kicked my ass and I got my heart broken. That?s when I got humble and figured out who I was.

    As a comedian, you?re kind of a porcupine. You?re soft on the inside and really hard on the outside. This was the first special where I took the protective armor off and got really vulnerable -- with myself and my audience. I?m trying to be honest and not pretend to be stronger or smarter than I am. While I was writing and performing, I fought the inclination to be false or go for the joke. As a result the special is almost like a giant private journal entry. I say stuff in this special that I wouldn?t tell my dearest, closest friends? so I hope they don?t watch this!

  • Did you craft this special differently than your first two?

  • For my other specials it was like, ?Is this getting laughs? Are people laughing?? They were, but not all laughs are created equal. My last two specials were, for a lack of a better word, a little more superficial -- because I was a little superficial and na�ve. This is much deeper. I talk about freezing my eggs, being diagnosed as a love addict, and getting cheated on. It?s the kind of stuff you would only talk about with your therapist or a trained professional. I was like, ?I?m not going to talk about airplane food in this special.?

  • Is anything off-limits or too personal to talk about on stage?

  • There is no such thing as too personal; there is such a thing as not funny enough. The main goal is to make people laugh. But I think that my definition of what?s funny now is, ?Is it true?? Most people like to relate.

    The culture and the zeitgeist also decide what I put in the special. There?s 20 minutes on squirting, because it?s happening. People are watching it in porn, so I knew this was something I had to talk about. I?m very democratic that way. If it?s something that?s in the ether, I have to address it. I don?t even feel like I craft it -- it?s decided for me by the conversations I have and investigations I do.

  • How do you balance serious social issues, like gender roles, with humor?

  • I try to keep it personal. One of my favorite quotes is, ?The more specific you are; the more universal you are.? I try to stay as specific as possible. I don?t sit down and say, ?I?m going to talk about social issues.? I do sit down and go, ?This has to matter to me.? If this doesn?t matter to me, why would anyone else give a shit? What keeps me up at night? What frustrates me? Usually if I want to make someone laugh, I?ll ask, ?What makes me cry?? That?s a weird way to go, but that means it?s something worth talking about. Airplane food doesn?t make me cry. I don?t care. Boys, relationships, getting cheated on -- those things make me cry. Let?s get into that.

    My heroes, Jon Stewart and Michael Moore, tackle heavy subjects and figure out a way to make you laugh about them. Those are the subjects that need levity and humor, otherwise we?d never think about them -- or want to think about them. I think the most healing thing we can all do is sit around and laugh about something that causes us all pain.

  • What advice do you have for women trying to make it in comedy right now?

  • Find the balance between pleasing people and pleasing yourself. I used to write jokes for other people: ?I wonder if guys will think this is funny? I feel like Democrats will think this is funny.? I was obsessed with other people?s perceptions of me with no concept of what I thought. Then I realized, why don?t I write what I think is funny? If people don?t get it, fine, but I?ll still have a blast, and feel connected to the material. As soon as I started pleasing myself, that?s when things started clicking -- because I ended up being authentic. Oddly, when you stop caring what people think, that?s when they start thinking positively. It?s a paradox.

  • What comics are you into right now?

  • Sebastian Maniscalco and John Mulaney are amazing. Daniel Tosh and Dave Attell never get old. Kevin Christy is really funny. I take him on the road with me.

  • What?s next for you?

  • I?m developing a series for HBO. It?s kind of the narrative version of this special: How being successful -- whatever that means -- ostensibly backfired for me in personal relationships. I?m directing a movie this year. It?s called The Female Brain, which is a movie I wrote with Neal Brennan based on the book. I?m working on a book.

    This isn?t the sexy answer, but I?m also working on balance and my health. I?m in recovery for codependence so that takes a lot of my time. I?m trying to get hobbies and not be a workaholic.

  • What can people expect from the special?

  • They can expect to learn a lot about anatomy. I talk about freezing my eggs. You?ll learn a lot about that process: Why I did it and how it works, because I feel like there?s a lot of shame around reproductive issues for women especially as women are having children later and later. All the stuff that?s socially unacceptable to discuss, I dive into. I want to take some of the shame out of these conversations.

    I?m terrified to for this special to air, but if I?m doing stand-up right, I should be a bit terrified of people knowing all this stuff. I think it?s the right feeling.