Ever since her brother dared her to go on stage for $50 two decades ago, Tammy Pescatelli has been making audiences laugh around the country.
Her career has continued to evolve through two seasons on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” her reality show “A Standup Mother” on WE tv, an appearance on Jenny McCarthy’s “Dirty Sexy Funny” showcase and a comedy special, “Finding the Funny” on Netflix.
Pescatelli talked about her career as she prepped for a four-show stand at Helium Comedy Club on Friday and Saturday.
Question: Is this your first time in Buffalo?
Answer: Oh gosh no. I’m from Cleveland originally, so I used to go to the Funny Bone in Amherst, when it was one of the safest cities in the country. I’ve been coming to Buffalo in various ways, whether it’s a comedy club, casino or a theater, for 20 years.
Q: You were on the first few seasons of “Last Comic Standing.” What was it like being in an environment where you’re competing against other comics in a profession that is pretty subjective?
A: That show was one of the first reality shows, so we weren’t familiar with what exactly was going on. We were all friends, for the most part. For me, it really wasn’t as much about the competition as it was the exposure. That’s also one of the biggest downfalls of that show, because it’s led to a lot of chaos in comedy because it should really never be a competition. As you said, it’s subjective and everybody has a different sense of humor, so although you may not like me, you may like my best friend. There’s something for everyone.
Q: A few years ago, you starred and produced your own reality show, “A Standup Mother,” where you moved your family to rural Pennsylvania. Are you still there?
A: We’re still here. I go back and forth to New York a lot because I have to continue to grow my business, but that was the whole catalyst of it. My husband is from Brooklyn, and we met in Los Angeles. When I got pregnant, we didn’t have family (there), but we thought it was going to be fine until I saw a man in a three-piece suit, briefcase and a Superman cape walking down the street. I was like, “We have to get out of here.”
We had this house in Pennsylvania. I’m not even from there, but I had relatives that lived here, so I said, “Let’s give it a shot and figure it out.” We were only supposed to live here six months, but my husband fell in love with this little “Back to the Future” town and here we are, eight years later. My son has this normal life, while I just got home from Vegas last night shooting a thing with Kathleen Madigan, Louis Black and Ron White. I try to balance it out because I am a working mother.
Q: What did you learn from doing the show?
A: The show that we sold in the room was the show we aired, but I couldn’t control what the network was doing and how it was spending its money. We came on the air at the exact same time as the Joan Rivers show, and that ran over budget. (WE tv) was $13 million in the hole on Tuesday nights to start with, so we didn’t have any promotion for our show.
All the promotion obviously went to the show that they spent the most money on. That’s something you can’t control. There are so many people involved in decisions outside of the show, that to see a show become a success is practically a miracle.
Who: Tammy Pescatelli
Where: Helium Comedy Club, 30 Mississippi St.
When: 7:30 and 10 p.m. Nov. 27 and 28.