Thursday, March 11, 2004

"I was also heavily influenced by Sinbad."
The Cutting Room Floor, Vol. 1 No. 4: This time the charming Nellie McKay, who is profiled fully in tomorrow's Post.

On her brief foray into stand-up comedy:
"It was my second - and final - year of college. And it wasn't going very well there. And I had had a very good experience over the summer at school of film and television. So I thought, 'Screw this music stuff, I'll be like Brett Butler,' because she's one of my heroes. The first time I went out and did my routine I got a great response and this guy approached me about managing me. I really do like observational humour. I guess there's a bit of Brett Butler in there, but I'm probably closer to Ellen DeGeneres or Paula Poundstone. I mean, I was also heavily influenced by Sinbad, but I don't think it shows. There's something about comedians that I've always really identified with. But it's much harder now though because the comedy boom during the 80s provided a lot of venues for one to practice one's craft every night, you could just venue hop. And now there's no such thing. Eventually I did get a manager and I was beginning to get gigs MCing and hosting, but it was right about that time that I was getting gigs on my own for music at piano bars. And the pressure is much less intense there. And also I just always felt it was easier to prepare music than comedy... The material was ok, but my delivery SUCKED! Oh my god, it was awful. Just terrible."

On her introduction to politics:
My mother is very political. And I can remember as a little toddler having Dukakis pins on my parka. I remember the Clinton/Bush election was the first one I was really aware of and we could really root for someone and we'd be in elementary school talking about it. I remember I really wanted Clinton to win. And, you know, I can still remember jokes at Ross Perot's expense. That's when my political consciousness came alive. And I was in New York City at that point so everybody in my class - it was practically all black and Hispanic - they were all for Clinton. There was one white kid who was for Perot. So all the jokes were at his expense because he was kind of a little snot anyway. And also to have the first election that you are aware of, to have your guy win, I think that does something to you also. Because we weren't accustomed to defeat like our parents were. So it was pretty swell."

On high school student government:
"I also was fascinated student you run for student government in high school, how easy it is to win really. Because the popular kids, the only reason they get votes is because of name recognition. It's really a good
lesson in how you win. So as long as you have better posters than them you can win. Student government is nothing anyway. You basically run and don't do anything. Only when I didn't show up for meetings, I was the big bad one. But they were just going to meetings to talk about jewelry anyway."

On being called an oddball:
"There's Carrot Top oddball, and then, you know, The Beatles were considered quite freakish when they came out. I think there are different types of oddball."

On her old apartment building:
"It was always my dream to buy back that building. I think it still is. Gosh, I have so much I wanna do with my money. I want to make the rent really cheap and let everyone live there cheap."

On dealing with snarky journalists:
"My dog Joey used to run up to the pitbulls and wag his tail and try to be friends. And sometimes that really backfired. You gotta not always be so waggy tailed."

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