Los Angeles-based Comedian Amy Anderson will be in the Twin Cities to perform at The Joke Joint, in the old Thunderbird Hotel at 2300 E American Blvd in Bloomington the weekend of April 22-24. Anderson is a Minnesota native and a Korean adoptee. (Photo by Bill Devlin)
By TOM LAVENTURE
AAP staff writer
Amy Anderson waited until after college to following a calling to stand up comedy – something she said was central to her life all along – but did not consider it as a vocation until her ‘now or never’ moment came after college. Now, 14 years later Anderson is at the top of her game and her act has changed to reflect her life as an Asian American woman, a Los Angeles based entertainer with roots as an adult Korean adoptee from Minnesota, and as a mother to a beautiful 3-year-old daughter.Anderson will be performing April 22-24 at The Joke Joint in the Ramada Hotel (former Thunderbird) next to the Mall of America at 2300 E American Blvd in Bloomington. Show times are 8:00 p.m. April 22, 8:00 and 10:30 p.m. on April 23, 7:30 and 10:00 p.m. on April 24.
“I’m especially excited to be heading to Minnesota for 10 days of performing and visiting with family and friends,” said Anderson. “It’s my first time headlining this club.”
Her Scandinavian name is often her first joke as she walks on stage and says, “Ya, I was adopted.” She said her career is in part related to the very issues of transnational adoption and identity crisis.
Anderson said she doesn’t have many labels but is often described as a “clean” comedian. She appreciates that, but adds she does perform adult material for a suitable audience.
She is at home with conservative comedy, but likes to reach for a wider audience with material on everyday life issues of bad relationships, opinions on religion or having babies. Right now her comedy is ripe with material based on her experiences a new mother – a biological attachment that she had not known before.
“Being a mom is just so foreign to me and its just really crazy,” she added. “The things that a toddler says you just cant make up.”
Anderson’s motherhood – and all of its joys and pains – presented an opportunity to join two other comedian-mothers for a Showtime special called Kiki Melendez’ Presents Hot Tamales Live!
Anderson said they present different angles on motherhood. She is a new mother, while Wendy Liebman is a stepmother to two boys, and Jennifer Rawlings has five kids. She described the tour as a summer camp with excited mothers on break from the kids.
Back home Anderson works with her ex to take care of their daughter when she’s on the road. She said the nanny has been gracious with short notice and little time off.
The comedy club circuit is the heart and soul of the comedy world and that is where she said comedians thrives with the intimacy of small crowds. She is moving away from that now, as a mom, to do commercial comedy, corporate appearances, videos, commercials, television and film and college tours.
These stops pay more for one appearance that a week in a comedy club, she said.
“As a single mom my time at home with my daughter is precious to me,” she said.
Her goal is to do more television and film work. She has worked on situation comedy pilots and said if just one of them takes off that her life change overnight. In the meantime, performing on stage and in any bit acting spot she can get keeps her visible and current in the industry.
“It is pretty competitive and I go to quite a few auditions and bookings,” she added. “I am always on the cusp of a breakthrough,” she said.
Anderson had national exposure with a Southwest Airlines commercial as the “Elevator Lady” who keeps shifting her place to prevent another person from pushing the button for his floor.
Her film appearances include the Rocky Morton film “On Pico”, the Julian Higgins film “The Wrath”, the Joseph Pineda film, “Hold the Rice”, and the Douglas Kennett film “Creatures of Hollywood.” Her television work includes Hannah Montana, The Tom Joyner Show and National Lampoon’s Funny Money.
Anderson has also appeared on most every major comedy stage, from HBO’s Comedy Festival, to Dudley Riggs Brave New Workshop, the Laugh Factory and The Comedy Store. She had as an album, “I Failed Math”, that is available on iTunes.
“This is a nonstop business and people hustle 24/7, and if you don’t, then you don’t keep up,” she added.
Getting on the college circuit is no easy task, Anderson said, and it involves a financial risk as well. She pays to present a 20 minute act at various regional conventions hosted by the National Association for Collegiate Activities. Student representatives from schools attend and book the performers they want for the coming school year.
Anderson has done well in the Midwest and New England regions and is why she will be in Minnesota, where she booked the Joke Joint shows to bridge appearances at Waverly College, Iowa and the NACA Northern Plains Conference in St Paul. She enjoys the college appearances as a way to stay in touch with the young generation, which helps keep her comedy contemporary and edgy.
“It is fun, but its weird,” she said. “Every year I get a year older and they stay the same age.”
Anderson was born in Korea and adopted to a Minnesota family, where she said it was “normal” to be an adoptee. Her mother was raised in an orphanage and a domestic adoption. Two of three brothers are also adopted.
She recalls hours of listening and memorizing the comedy albums and her family had in at home and was a big fan of comedy films. This became the material for a class clown since grade school and she developed a keen sense of humor.
Comedians fascinated her and she appreciated how these different personalities and could produce laughter whether it was silly or serious, observational or political. The comics taught her how to be funny and how to make an audience laugh.
Growing up a Korean girl in the southwestern suburbs during the 1970s and 1980s had its challenges and is the source of a lot of her material.
“I had a friend two doors down in my neighborhood who was also a Korean and also had the same name, Anderson,” she added. “How can you not talk about that in a funny way.”
Anderson went on to graduate from Minnetonka Senior High, and then from Westminster Choir College in 1994.
“I loved music and all aspects but I could not imagine it as career by my junior year,” she said. “I finished my degree and did not know what to do.
She worked temp jobs, worked as a coffee house barista and waited tables while trying to figure out what she wanted to do. She began acting with Illusion Theater, Theater in the Round, Mixed Blood, and then did some improvisational comedy with Stevie Ray’s Improv Company and Brave New Workshop – before making the break into standup at ACME and other local clubs around 1997.
“I knew right away that comedy was way to go and I never looked back,” said Anderson. “I fell in love with it 13 years ago and it has been my fulltime job for six years.”
She credits her improvisational training and years of performing small clubs for her ability to respond to audiences and deviate from prepared material. This comes in handy when playing different communities around the country, she added.
The comedic process is part self discovery and Anderson explores her life experience as a woman, a mother, an adoptee and an Asian person. She said this is her life and that she knows others share her experience but that she does not subscribe to representing a group onstage.
“I feel like the great thing about America is that can you can be the individual that you want to be, and I feel we all deserve that respect,” she said.
She is proud to be among the generation of international adoptions that are now the first to become vocal about the “weird cultural dichotomy” they have lived through poetry, books, film and the arts as adults.
“I am honored to be part of that movement as I see it,” she added.
She describes the adoptee experience as straddling two worlds and not belonging to either one. Today, she said immigrants live within their first language and culture in large communities. As people make assumptions about her based on appearance it helps her comedy when she reveals a Midwestern accents and sensibilities.
“As an Asian adoptee I have the unique ability to be in both world whether I like it or not,” she said. “I can shape-shift and be what I want to be at any given time.”
For more information and tickets cal 612-327-0185 or online at jokejointcomedyclub.com/JJCC/Amy_Anderson.html.
Watch Amy Anderson clips and read more about her online at amyanderson.net, twitter.com/amysfunny, funnyyellowmom.blogspot.com, and facebook.com/ComedianAmyAnderson.