“I suppose my first real job in comedy was teaching high school”
February 13, 2012 Leave a comment
Few women have inspired the editor of this blog as much as Sara Benincasa did. A unique and extremely personal character, Sara is candid, crazy, open-minded, hilarious, and genuine. Not much older than we are, Sara has already appeared in NBC’s Today Show, the CBS Early Show, CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, MTV News, and CUNY-TV’s “Brian Lehrer Live”. She’s written for Wonkette, ComedyCentral.com and “created a splash with her original Sarah Palin vlogs on Huffington Post’s humor site, 23/6, a series for which she won an ECNY Award and was nominated for a Webby for best performance, alongside Isabella Rosellini.” There is no telling how funny Sara is; it is in the way she impersonates Michelle Bachmann, her delirious writing style, and her honest and warm-hearted way she addresses her listeners / readers / viewers. Part of our series on young, inspiring people finding a way to express themselves in a world that is certainly not entirely ready to receive them, Sara Benincasa agreed to answer a few questions, and did so with enthusiasm and loveliness. We could not be any happier. Her book, Agorafabulous!, is released tomorrow. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy.
You attended Columbia’s Teacher College. When and how did you realise you were meant to perform?
Well, teaching teenagers is a kind of performance, I think. You’ve got an audience that may or may not be violent and drunk, and you’ve got to captivate them to the point where they are rendered temporarily immobile by laughter, fascination, or at the very least, fear. So I suppose my first real job in comedy was teaching high school.
“Sex and other human activities” is a very open-minded, funny and candid sex and health podcast. What were your favorite moments on the show so far?
In Episode 19, I break down and cry while talking about the depression I was experiencing at the time. It’s very honest and open and it’s the episode that we get the most feedback on. There’s another episode where I cry about “Doctor Who” and Marcus, my co-host and co-producer, cries about “Battlestar Galactica.” We’re kind of geeky.
Something that stuck with me is describing your experience as a Planned Parenthood escort in NYC. Can you tell us more about what prompted you to volunteer and what PP means to you, especially in the wake of the Kormen story?
I‘ve actually never worked as an escort for Planned Parenthood. I certainly benefited from the help of Planned Parenthood escorts when I was confronted by an angry protester one morning. And I’m very glad that Susan G. Komen for the Cure restored their funding for mammograms to Planned Parenthood.
The first time I heard you was on Citizen Radio, impersonating Sarah Palin. You’ve been extremely spot-on with every female politician your portrayed, especially with Michele Bachmann. Is there a candidate you’d never make fun of and why?
Oh, I’d feel fine making fun of each and every one of them. I wouldn’t feel fine doing impressions of each one. I’m not going to don blackface and a wig and be Obama…that would be, you know, MILDLY offensive. I’m going to do impressions of candidates I vaguely resemble. Sarah Palin and, to a lesser extent, Michele Bachmann fit the bill.
Amidst all your podcast and live performance work, how did the idea of writing “Agorafabulous” come to you?
Well, I actually started doing the one-woman show “Agorafabulous!” in order to brainstorm ideas for my book proposal. After about a year of that, we got a book proposal together that we liked enough to sell. And it sold! Hooray!
You’ve been very candid about your experiences on air and in your book. How hard was it to be so public about things some of us can be shy or ashamed about?
So long as I felt confident I was only holding myself up for potential ridicule/praise, it was easy to be public with this information. I didn’t really consider it ahead of time, or else I might have hesitated. I just did it. And I’m glad I did.
Is there one more element to your active and constantly evolving career that you have not yet dived into?
I’d like to act more! It’s a great deal of fun, especially comedic acting.