L.A. Comedians: Diana Darling

With The Comedy Store, Laugh Factory and many other comedy clubs, Los Angeles is the place to be for stand-ups. The Bacon Post regularly interviews up and coming talent. This time Diana Darling is in the hot seat.

When did you decide to become a stand-up?
DD: “To tell you the truth, my friends and family had been telling me for years that I should do stand-up and I would always respond, “I would NEVER do stand-up!” I had grown up performing in musicals and in plays and I was always in love with the stage. Performing brought me so much joy and I especially connected with improv and sketch. As a child I would dream of becoming a comedic actress, instead I became a hairdresser, but somehow I always knew that would be temporary. Eventually I decided to take a comedy class not realizing that I would be performing in a real stand-up comedy show at the end of the course… and so it began.”

What do you consider your style?
DD: “People describe me as a lovable, high energy, animated, clean comic.”

What is your favorite subject in your bits?
DD: “My favorite subject by far is my mom. She is hours of endless entertainment. She doesn’t mean to be funny, she just IS funny, hilarious actually! My mom is like a living cartoon character, I mean the material pretty much just writes itself when it comes to my mom, the things that come out her mouth, I die! She’s amazing (laughs).”

What is your best experience on stage?
DD: “My best experience on stage would have to be my first show. The reason why is because I was so riddled with fear of failure that I had to pull my car over on the way to the show because I was crying so much I couldn’t see and I was practically hyperventilating. I’ve never had stage fright, but that night I was shaking when I got on stage.. I went up dead last, the audience was tired and the energy had been sucked out of the room. I though to myself, “This cant be good.” I took the mic and as soon as I said my first punchline and everyone busted out laughing, I knew everything was gonna be OK. I have never felt more comfortable on stage as I did that night after that first joke. Every punchline hit, it was magical, It was absolutely surreal and I was having the time of my life up there. That night I did a 40 minute set and I got a standing ovation. It was the best and most fun night of my life.”

What is your worst experience on stage?
DD: “The worst experience I’ve had on stage actually turned out to be a really good thing. My father recently passed away and I was really struggling with grief. I started experiencing terrible symptoms of anxiety and ADD. I took time off, but 3 weeks after he died I got back on stage at the Hollywood Improv… not a good idea for me… I could see that I was rattle-brained and foggy before the show and I was doing mostly new material so I decided to write my set list on my hand. I went to the bathroom, the ADD set in and I washed my hands not giving it a second thought… until I got on stage. About 30 seconds in I drew a complete blank. No problem, I thought, I’ll take a quick glance at my hand… that had chunks of words washed off! I was more than obvious to say the least, luckily the audience was confused and thought it was part of my act so I just started making jokes about it and that became my act for that night. It was stressful for a moment, but it showed me what I was capable and I decided then that moving forward I wouldn’t be so married to my material, just have fun with whatever situation I’m in. I felt like I grew a lot that night.”

What is your worst joke?
DD: “My worst joke… God, I’m sure I’ve had plenty, but the thing about this business is you know right away if something is working or not. I remember early on I had a joke about a bank robber that said inspirational sayings such as “Dance like no one’s watching, sing like no one’s listening, steal like you won’t get caught.” There was more to the bit also. When I went to see my teacher I did the bit for him, he was like, “That’s absolute crap, don’t ever say it again!” Hahahaha. I still actually like the joke, but I’ve never said it on stage!”

Do you have any advice for beginning stand-up comedians?
DD: “My advice to anyone who wants to get into comedy is this, don’t be a comics comic, be a public comic. Meaning, when you first start out it can be very daunting to go to open mics especially in Los Angeles. They are filled with comics who have seen it all, done it all basically. What comics find funny is very different from what the public finds funny so keep your heart set on that and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get laughs at open mics, those are just for practice. Also, I would recommend taking classes. Classes do not make you funny, they simply give you a structure. Funny with your friends and stage funny are two very different things. It is important to learn how to write for stage. There are a lot of bad classes out there too. I would recommend The Greg Wilson at the Comedy Institute because he is a working headliner, he’s insanely funny, he knows what he’s doing, and his writing and teaching methods are second to none. It will shave years off the learning curve.”

Jo Luijten
Dutch-born editor and video maker.

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