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Caroline Rhea on female comedians who inspire her

Caroline Rhea has been acting and performing stand-up since 1989, when she left her native Montreal for New York. She launched a career that’s included a steady stream of movie and TV work (you may recall her role as Aunt Hilda on “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch”) and comedy gigs.

Rhea, 50, is bringing her stand-up to Jamestown on Thursday when she headlines the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival’s Stand-Up Showcase.

Q: So many entertainers point to Lucille Ball’s influence on their career. How did her work impact you?

Rhea: Lucille Ball completely inspired me. I LOVED all of her television shows, and she taught a master class in timing and comedy every time you watched her. Nothing was accidental. She was a very precise comedienne.

Q: Who are some contemporary comedians who you feel will be pointed to by comics two or three generations from now as having set a new standard or broken ground?

Rhea: I love Rachel Feinstein, Judy Gold, Kathleen Madigan, and I think Mindy Kaling is fantastic. There are so many hilarious strong female comedians. They’re all groundbreakers.

Q: Who else inspires you?

Rhea: I have been to the Edinburgh Festival twice and performed for a month each time and was completely inspired by how creative everyone is.

Q: What’s your greatest source of joy in performing comedy?

Rhea: I find being on stage completely calming. I always consider it a dinner party: I am bringing some ingredients and the audience brings the other part. When it’s organically funny, it is very joy-inducing.

Q: What’s your biggest challenge?

Rhea: The only challenge I find is actually getting to a venue. If I had some residual Sabrina powers I would just zap myself everywhere.

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