A seldom-discussed pastime of many standup comedians is sitting, as in those offstage moments they can take a seat and be alone with their thoughts. But don't expect to find Erin Foley kicking back on a La-Z-Boy before her standup sets. It seems like she's been living on a treadmill since entering the comedy circuit nearly a decade ago.
Foley sharpened her sarcastic wit at comedy clubs in New York City, where she started using her humor to fight homophobia and other societal ills. Then television came calling. Since her breakout role as Alison the Fact Checker in the Oscar-winning 2000 film Almost Famous, she has appeared on screens big and small, in commercials, on her own Comedy Central special and earlier this year on Conan. Recently, she relocated to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
The Daily Page: Could you briefly tell me about your road to comedy? Was it a natural fit for you starting out, or did you encounter a lot of hurdles and moments of doubt?
Foley: I started out doing improv comedy in New York City. My shows were at 6:30 p.m. at the New York Comedy Club, a small standup comedy club on the east side. After my show, I would stay and watch standup for hours. I had never seen or even heard of standup comedy before moving to NYC. I loved it instantly, quit improv and started writing jokes nonstop. From my first show to my last show, there will be hurdles and moments of self-doubt. That's why I love wine.
Comedy and acting seem to compliment each other, but which one do you love the most?
For me, it's all about standup comedy. I love acting, but standup comedy will always be my first pursuit. The acting roles are the icing on the cake.
As an actress, what do you think about this year's Academy and Golden Globe Award nominations?
I just watched the Golden Globes. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were fantastic. It's amazing to see women get more and more opportunities in comedy. I'm excited for the Oscars as well, although it's probably going to be another five-hour snooze fest. I'm really pulling for Silver Linings Playbook
What is your dream role as an actor?
I think my dream acting scenario would be to do a comedic play on Broadway. I'm obsessed with live performance.
You've also done commercials. What was the first commercial you ever did, and have you ever had funny experiences while filming one?
I honestly can't remember which commercial I did first, but a lot of people have enjoyed the Philly Cream Cheese spots where I play a super-sarcastic angel. Wearing all-white, 20-pound angel wings on your back makes you question all your life choices until the check comes in the mail.
At one point in your life you considered being a teacher. What subject would you have taught?
I would have loved to have gone back to school and furthered my degree in American Studies. Basically, you're studying American culture from every angle: religion, history, pop culture, literature, sports, etc.
I was reading Steve Martin's autobiography, Born Standing Up, recently, and he wrote that he rarely enjoyed the moment when he was on stage performing. He was always too busy thinking about what came next. Do you enjoy yourself in the moment of performing, or is it a situation similar to Martin's?
I should read his autobiography ASAP. He's one of my idols. It's really hard to enjoy yourself in the moment, something I've been working on since I started. The more you perform and the older and more experienced you become, the better chance you have at soaking it all in, minute to minute.
Have you ever been to Madison before?
I've never been to Madison before, and I couldn't be more excited.
What is your perception of Madison and Wisconsin?
Insane weather, great football team, horrible governor, Democratic, Midwest friendly, lovers of cheese. Can't wait.