15 years of laughs

Debra DiGiovanni brings stand-up fun to Rumor’s

In making fun of Usher videos and joking about being a single, awkward female, Debra DiGiovanni became one of Canada’s most recognizable comedians.

The award-winning comic got her start telling jokes 15 years ago when she enrolled in a comedy writing and performance course at Humber College
in Toronto.

“You never think you’re going to last,” DiGiovanni tells The Uniter over the phone from Los Angeles, her home of two years. “Staying in comedy for that long, especially as a woman, is an accomplishment in itself.

“I would say my comedy has become more honest, confident and comfortable over the years. When you’re just starting out you’re still finding your voice and I think that’s something that’s happened with time. I don’t censor myself as much as I used to, now I make an effort to say what I want and what makes other people laugh.”

DiGiovanni spent her early years onstage performing as much as she possibly could. She credits a lot of her current success to that early experience.

“Doing comedy once a month isn’t going to make you a comedian,” she says. “You can’t be scared of a crowd and you can’t learn unless you’re doing it all of the time.”

Over the years she’s appeared at countless comedy festivals, was a finalist in the fifth season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing and can be heard on a CBC Radio’s The Debaters.

It was her role on Video On Trial, Much’s hilarious series that finds comedians picking apart music videos, that really grabbed people’s attention. 

“We only got paid $20 an episode to do that show at first, but then it got popular. I really think it gave me a lot of my career and helped push me to another level,” DiGiovanni explains.

Last year, her first Canadian solo tour took her through the Pantages Playhouse Theatre. She joked about her juvenile, late bloomer life as a comedian in stark contrast to her twin sister, who is married with two kids and a day job.

While she enjoyed filling the bigger venues DiGiovanni says she’s looking forward to telling jokes in a more intimate setting this time around.

“A smaller club like Rumor’s will make it a little more personal and there will be more of a connection. The material will be similar, I just sort of add to it as life continues. What’s honest in your life is what you joke about,” she says.

In 2015 she wants to focus on getting into writing sitcoms and screenplays, which is the main reason she moved to LA from Toronto.

“I might not be here forever, I might only be here for another year,” the comedian says. “I just felt like I have to try out these different mediums and see what happens.”

Published in Volume 69, Number 18 of The Uniter (January 28, 2015)

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