Felicia Madison may be one of the most ambitious and driven female comedians we've seen in awhile. She's changing the game and taking names! Literally, at one of several of her monthly shows and weekly open mics. Surpassing her drive? Only her comedy, and this powerhouse has a lot to say! We got a chance to catch up with this busy lady and got some amazing insight into what she's got going on!
When did you know you wanted to do stand up and what were the first steps you took to get your "in" in the business?
I had been thinking of doing comedy for a few years before I actually took a class. A good friend of mine, David Moore, had been doing standup for a long time and I always told him one day I was going to try it. When my kids were either out of the house or not really caring that I was gone, so when they were teenagers, I asked him how to get started and he hooked me up with Andy Engel. I took one of Andy Engel's Classes at the Manhattan Comedy School with Karen Bergreen. After performing at my graduation show, I was officially hooked. I haven’t stopped since my first performance.
What initially intimidated you about performing stand up as someone without much stage experience?
I wasn’t really intimidated about performing. I think in the beginning I had an overall feeling of nervousness... mainly about if I would forget my lines. I think the benefit of being older is that you really just don’t care as much as the younger folk do about what others are thinking.
How did you push through to become a talent director at West Side Comedy Club?
At first West Side Comedy Club wasn’t interested in working with me. I was a bit disappointed but it was such an amazing club that I just produced events there on a one off basis. I developed a great working relationship with Gina Savage and the club owners, Eugene and Nina Ashe... They saw that I consistently put together a great group of talented comedians and did so in a highly organized, effective manner. It was my persistence and hard work that paid off when they were in need of someone to run their new talent shows, they turned to me. I am forever grateful for their trust and for believing in me. It is also a pleasure to work with a club that is owned and operated by women.
So, what is F Comedy Club?
I started a Friday noon feedback mic with another comedian in the bottom of a restaurant on the Upper West Side about 2 1/2 years ago. It turned into a great group of comedians that met once a week and worked together supporting one another. Coincidentally the restaurant was closing right around the time I was starting to talk to WSCC. This is when I thought, lets make these mics into a program for mid level comedians and put on shows that represent the rising talent in NYC. We couldn’t come up with a name and as a default we chose F Comedy Club... we liked that F could stand for many things, Female... I try to make my shows 50/50, Funny, Felicia or Fuck... which ironically most people think of first... and we all thought FCC was funny. I am currently brainstorming new ideas for a name so if anyone has any suggestions….
What makes you want to support young comedians and how do you guide them with F Comedy Club at West Side Comedy?
I would like to call them mid level comedians and not young as we are all ages and not always new. There is a great market already for bringer shows for the beginner comedian. Once you “outgrow" those bringers, there is what i like to call the Sahara Desert of bar shows, free shows and self produced shows, that you need to perform in until you reach the land of being passed, TV Spot or Netflix 15 minutes of fame. I wanted to provide water in the desert for these comedians, a packed club show, where you can be seen by the booker, get feedback and a tape. Four comedians from F Comedy have already been passed at West Side Comedy Club and I am truly proud of them and what they area accomplishing. I like to think of myself as their Momager and like I am proud of my own children, I am immensely proud of these comedians. My shows are starting to get a reputation as a high quality show. They are currently “bringer” shows but I like to call them promoter shows… if you have a good following you should not have a problem getting people to these shows. I like to scatter in guest comedians who have television credits, which is also a thrill for many comedians to perform with the likes of Joe Matarese, Mark Norman, Darrell Hammond and Judy Gold to name a few.
What is your overall goal for F Comedy Club?
I would love to start a school for comedians and make this show so popular we don’t have to worry about an audience—build it and they will come. I have already put together many seminars, panel discussions, and workshops for comedians. Ultimately, I would love to put together a comprehensive program for comedians like a UCB or 2nd City for stand up. It is a vision that is a bit daunting but I keep chipping away one step at a time and try not to get discouraged by setbacks or naysayers.
Who are your comedy guides and idols?
I of course loved Joan Rivers, she is my idol... my goal was to one day be on Fashion Police… had to adjust my dreams of course. I love strong female comedians like Whitney Cummings, Ali Wong, and Ellen Degeneres. As for Male comedians of course Jerry Seinfeld, and Norm McDonald and more recently Joe Koy. Basically like clean comedy. My favorite read for comedy was an article by Jerry Corley 13 Major Comedy Structures, Sandi C. Shores Secrets to Standup Success and Joe Toplyn’s Comedy writing for Late-night TV.
Can you talk a little about the upcoming sitcom you're writing?
I had been working on a sitcom called Mother Felicia which is about an upper east side mother by day stand up comic by night… sound familiar? Basically the premier of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel destroyed my prospects for this show. I wrote and produced instead a one woman show that was featured at The Fringe Festival called The Miserable Mrs. Madison. It was originally a one woman show version of my current situation but morphed into a story about my father with the moral of never stop looking for your marvelous… you never know when you will find it. This production was a first stab at this and am working on further developing it and reintroducing it with more bells and whistles in the Spring.
How does drawing from your personal life in such an intimate way impact your role as a mother?
Stand up is all about drawing from your personal life. I find if you veer too far from the truth then your comedy will ultimately fail as it will come off as insincere. My kids are mostly grown up and not really impacted by my comedy. With that said, my children are for the most part proud of my accomplishments and support me. My teenager however is a different story… no matter what I do I am a embarrassment to her... this is just one extra item to add to that.
A lot of your comedy deals with topics around alcoholism, depression, and power struggles in your family dynamic. Are you okay?? (JOKE) What do you personally get from drawing attention to these themes in a comedic way? What do you think the audience gets?
Good question and I am glad you brought it up. I am trying to produce one show a month for charity—my Comedy for a Cause portion of my business. In November it was for Veterans and all proceeds went to Mission 22. Dave Attell made a special appearance… a real stand up guy. In January which is mental health awareness month, I am producing an event with “we are all a little bit crazy” which is helping to break the negative stigma associated with mental health issues. "We are all a little bit crazy” is founded by Eric Kussin and I hope through this charity as well as with my comedy, to let people know…it is not just you....you are not alone... but this is part of life and the normal process of life. I hope to spread the word to as many people as possible. This next event will be January 21st at Gotham Comedy Club which has been so generous in helping me produce this. In addition, Eric and I hope to produce some educational seminars targeted to
Where can we look out for your performances and what are your favorite venues to perform in around town?
I of course am partial to Gotham Comedy Club where I got my start and my new home away from home West Side Comedy Club. I hope to be performing my one woman show again soon in the spring so look out for that and my bi-monthly show at West Side Comedy Club. I am featuring at Boca Black Box December 20, 21 and 22 and am also performing at Greenwich Village Comedy Club on The Clayton Fletcher Show in January, Feb 2nd at QED and Women of A Certain Age on March 13th at the Krane Theater. All my shows can be found on my website and sign up for my four mics are also there on the F Comedy tab.
So? What are you waiting for? Go check her out: www.feliciamadison.com