Whitney Cummings is an stand-up comedian, actor, writer, consultant, adviser, and producer in film and TV. She has worked on such productions as Chelsea Lately, The Tony Rock Project, House, and Punk'd. In 2011 Two of her pilots were picked up for television, Whitney (NBC), which she is…more
At the 12th Annual Young Hollywood Awards, Whitney received the YH Comedian of the Year award from Ben Stiller.
In three years, Whitney graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania.
Whitney is the first female comedian to perform in Beirut and Dubai.
Whitney Cummings: (releasing anger on stage) Comedy is a very combative job. People always say comedians are fucked up. I don't think comedians always start out fucked up. I think doing comedy fucks them up. I think they start out perfectly normal and then after 10 years of doing stand-up, then you're a nightmare and you're on drugs. I think the terms we use onstage proves that: I killed, I slaughtered. It's always such a violent terms. Going onstage can be war sometimes.
But I think there's a lot of anger in comedy because it could be a very frustrating job. No matter how big or how great a comedian is, the last three shows they did, I'm sure one of them was bad. You're always being challenged. If you're doing great, and you tape your hour special, then you have to write a whole new hour and get back in the trenches again and get rejected again. You're putting yourself out there every night to be either rejected or accepted.
Comedy attracts very aggressive people because it takes a lot of balls. I consider the Comedy Store to be my home club in LA. A lot of people stay away from it because they think it's dark and toxic, but it really is the best place to get better at comedy. That place has been a gift for me. The lighting is set up so that you can't see the audience so you're defenseless against hecklers. So you get really strong with hecklers; I don't fear them anymore because I feel like I've been in the trenches there. They don't serve food, so the audience is not distracted. They're just staring in your eyes. They say a giggle at the Comedy Store is like an applause break anywhere else. You just have to eat shit. Chris Rock was in there a couple months ago and he was like. 'Ah, back at the Comedy Store' because he was just doing ok. It's a lot of people that don't speak English, a lot of tourists. So no matter how good you think you are, you can always eat shit there twice a week.
Whitney Cummings: (on holding back material) About a year ago, I was all about what people would say to me after a show. It used to be that people would come up to me and say, 'Oh my god, those are such good jokes, you're so funny.' And that used to be what was validating to me. But now, I've changed what I'm doing a little bit. So now the goal is to have people come up to me after a show and say, 'Oh my god, that's so true.' Because now I'm trying to write stuff that's more personal and stuff that's less elitist. I'm trying to connect more with people. I don't judge my audiences. I don't believe in audiences showing up and you telling them how stupid they are. I don't believe in someone paying $20 to get in, $40 for food, a two-drink drink minimum, not to mention parking. They could be paying $100 to come see you. I don't believe in, 'You guys are idiots.'
A non-comedian said this to me the other day: 'So doing stand-up is basically asking someone to pay you $20 to listen to you talk for an hour.' And I was like,' Yeah, I guess that sounds pretty fucking arrogant.' To go watch Meryl Streep or the biggest blockbuster movie that costs $200 million to make, they're only asking to pay $12. We're asking $20, plus everything else you have to pay for. Meryl Streep is only asking $12 at the theater. It's a big responsibility and I take it seriously. I never want anyone at any show I'm performing at to not get it, to not relate to it, or to feel stupid. It's really important to me that people don't come out of shows thinking, 'She thinks she's better than me.' I want to connect and respect that people made an effort to come out.
Whitney Cummings: (on being called alternative by mainstream comics) Sometimes it's a compliment to be called alternative. When people say you're alternative, I say, 'What does that mean?' And a lot of times the answer is that 'Your jokes are smart and you're very clever.' But I don't want to accept that definition because I don't want to imply that mainstream comics aren't smart and clever. I think it just means that your jokes are maybe more cerebral. I hope it doesn't mean that I have a smaller appeal, because that's not a goal of mine.
Maybe it has something to do with clever construction of jokes, which I used to do more of. Now I'm just breaking open onstage more than I'm telling well-crafted jokes. Dan Mintz is a great example of someone who does brilliant jokes with no emphasis on presentation. He's considered an alternative comedian but his material is funny to everyone. I don't think anyone would walk in and not think his material was hilarious.
Whitney Cummings: (on alternative and mainstream audiences) Some more mainstream comedians say I'm alternative. And some alternative comics think I'm mainstream. I hope that I'm just funny instead of just indie or mainstream or alternative or commercial or whatever. I don't know what the definition of alternative is as opposed to mainstream. If you were to ask anyone at the UCB or the Laugh Factory what the difference between alternative and commercial I don't know that anyone would know what the answer is. To me funny is funny. I'm not sure where I stand. I guess it's more the venues you play but I'm able to do UCB and the Laugh Factory.
Whitney Cummings: (on why she thinks she will be a big and successful comic) If I don't, I'm gonna make a sex tape with Aziz [Ansari]. There are no shortcuts, so I tend to be a workaholic. My hobby is my job. I'd be doing it for free. Which I think a lot of us do anyway.
Whitney Cummings: They say it takes 10 years to make a good comedian.
Whitney Cummings: (on Ellen DeGeneres) She's just so funny about the stupidest things... ...If you can make something funny out of something mundane, it's borderline divine.
Whitney Cummings: (on the effects of a roast on a persons self-esteem) That's why we have Xanax. I don't understand people who sign up for it and are offended. You know what you're signing up for. You go through months and months of contract negotiations. This year Pam Anderson really was sensitive about people making fun of her. It's not like we're coming up to you at two in the afternoon on a random Wednesday and saying, 'You're a whore.' By the way, this is how comedians show love to one other.
Whitney Cummings: (on the roast being an opportunity to tell cruel and offensive jokes) It's the one hour a year where nothing is off limits and nobody's feelings are involved and no one is allowed to be sensitive or take things personally and nothing is offensive. It's a celebration of the first amendment, I guess. I would never say the things I said in the roast. I wouldn't just go up to Pam Anderson and say, 'Hey, you have AIDS.' And I wouldn't do it in my act. My act is not mean towards people at all. The roast is self contained.
Whitney Cummings: (on topics that are off limits during a roast) Every year something is off limits. For Bob Saget, his sister who had died was off limits, which is kind of fair. For the William Shatner roast, what was off limits was his wife who drowned. This year, it was David Hasselhoff's daughters. He said, 'Just don't talk about my daughters,' and I called them whores. I can see why that didn't air. And then Pam Anderson was very sensitive this year, so a lot of the ones about her didn't air.
Whitney Cummings: (on jokes that get edited out from airing on TV) There's a lot of reasons a joke might not air. Like last year Greg Giraldo and I both had an AIDS quilt joke. You can only have one AIDS quilt in a roast. All the stuff that people think is too dirty or whatever, I did on Stern this morning. I think it's going to be the tradition that I go on Stern after the roast and do all the jokes that didn't air.
Whitney Cummings: (on her performance at the David Hasselhoff Comedy Central Roast) I'm so shocked at the response to this roast. I didn't realize I was so edgy. Someone said to me recently that I have a surgical approach. I really make it tight and scientific. I cut the fat. I end up writing hundreds and hundreds of jokes, and in the week before the roast I'll go out to comedy clubs and run them in the clubs to get a feel of them.
Whitney: I don't take things personally. I'm dead inside.