Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Comedian Bobbie Oliver

Born Barbara “Bobbie” Evans in Covington, GA, the city where The Dukes of Hazzard was filmed, she grew up dirt poor in the Dirty South. The economy was depressed and so were the people. Bobbie found escape in staying up late with her father to watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Carson and the comedians who performed on his show, including Roseanne, Brett Butler, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Lily Tomlin and Garry Shandling, became an inspiration to her.

Studying theatre in high school, Bobbie discovered that she had a gift for comedy and went on to receive a BA in theatre from LaGrange College, where she founded a standup comedy group with her future husband Chris Oliver. After graduating Bobbie and Chris moved to the cultural hub of Athens, GA. From that base, Bobbie began working the grueling comedy circuit of the East Coast. Comedy clubs, colleges, one-nighters, military bases, corporate gigs, frat parties…you name it, Bobbie did it, for seven years. This experience, the comedy school of hard knocks, has provided her with a rock-solid foundation that cannot be acquired through any other means.

In 1998, tired of the road, Bobbie and Chris made the move to Los Angeles, where she founded the renowned comedy school StandUp Academy at The Ice House Comedy Club. Ready to make a new start, Bobbie completely scrapped over an hour of material and started fresh. Bobbie has appeared on ABC, TNN, The Style Network, Entertainers with Byron Allen, at The Riviera in Las Vegas, The Ice House Comedy Club, Flappers, The Improv, The Jon Lovitz Comedy Club, The Comedy Store and many clubs, colleges and corporate events, including NASA, USC and congressional fundraisers. She has won many comedy contests, including the Hollywood Ha-Ha Festival and the L.A. Soup-or-Bowl of Comedy, and was featured on the cover of Pasadena Weekly. Bobbie is the author of The Tao of Comedy: Embrace the Pause, to be published in 2012. Bobbie Oliver is smarter, sexier and funnier than ever, and her Southern charm wins over audiences wherever she performs.

What is the current project you are working on?

I am finishing my book The Tao of Comedy: Embrace the Pause. The book is about approaching standup comedy from a Taoist or Zen perspective. It is what I teach in my comedy workshops and is the culmination of my life's work as a comic and comedy teacher.

How do you define success?

As long as I am brave on stage, as long as I use my microphone to address the things I care about in the world, as long as I am proud of my body of work, I am successful. But, some cash would be nice.

How do you handle rejection?

Lots of drugs

What and/or who influences you?

I have been influenced by lots of great comedians including Richard Pryor, Roseanne, George Carlin, Janeane Garafalo, Johnny Carson, Lily Tomlin, Brett Butler, Mae West, Sally, Mullins, Tom Simmons, John Fontaine, my husband comedian Chris Oliver... the list goes on. I've also been influenced heavily by Taoism and Zen Buddhism.

What's your favorite type of marsupial?

Anyone who does not respond "Koala Bear" to this question is dead to me.

What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?

God, who knows. I have been doing comedy 24 years. I'm gonna say a zillion.

Do you have any interesting talents?

Aside from comedy? I am a mean roller skater.

What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in your business?

I would tell them to redefine "make it". You do comedy to do comedy, to express yourself, to find the truth about yourself and the world around you...not to be rich and famous. Also, make your own opportunities. Make your own projects. Don't wait for someone to come along and hand you anything. Create. Also, I recommend meditation for everyone no matter what their field. Quieting the voice in your head and bringing yourself into the Now is the best tool you can have for your career and your life. I also recommend the book The Tao of Pooh for everyone. Life-changing book that can teach you how to not take everything so seriously.

How would you describe your education?

Formally, I have an AA in Psychology, BA in Speech Communications and Theatre and an MPA. But my real education has been doing comedy for 24 years all over the country in every type of situation you can imagine. I have also learned a lot about comedy and myself by working with other comics in my workshops.

What is it like working with your spouse?

Well... it can be a fun and it can be a challenge. We have been together for over 20 years. Sometimes we get sick of each other (ok a lot) but I love and respect him so much and I get so much out of working with him both in our comedy office and in our new comedy double act.

What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?

My favorite tv show was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now I watch a lot of the HBO original shows like Game of Thrones, Girls, Newsroom, etc. I love Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction. My fave movie ever is Flash Gordon. I never thought of myself as a geek until I answered this question.

How would you describe the comedy "scene" where you live?

Cut throat. But, I have tried to create my own comedy community that is supportive of each other, not back-stabbing.

Why do you think some people consider your work controversial ?

I am controversial because I don't shy away from any topics. I talk about politics and feminism. I try to be brave on stage and in my writing. I talk about what I care about; I don't spoon feed the audience.

What's your favorite quote and why?

"You must do the thing you think you can not do." Eleanor Roosevelt.

I love this quote because I have seen the power of facing your fears. Facing fears sets you free. Running from them makes you a slave.

Are you a morning or a night person?

I'm a comic, so obviously I am a night person. I sleep 3-10am usually.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Everyone please check out my website atwww.bobbieoliver.net for more info on me, upcoming shows, my podcast, my cd, and for tons of video and audio. Also, follow me on twitter @thebobbieoliver


Thank for for doing the interview Bobbie. I wish you all the best with your book "The Tao of Comedy: Embrace the Pause".  Let me know if you are ever visit Massachusetts. I'd love to see your show live.