Interview: Comedian Jo Firestone

The Tonight Show writer performs two shows at Good Good on Saturday.

Jo Firestone started a pun-based comedy show with her dad called Punderdome.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Jo Firestone had to cancel her appearance in Philly this Saturday due to health reasons. She’ll be replaced on the bill by Emmy Blotnick.

Jo Firestone’s got an impressive resume: She does standup all over NYC, hosts several shows, co-created a pun-based card game with her dad, DJ’d on WFMU, did a freaking hilarious TEDx Talk (see below), created an amazing web video series with Aparna Nancherla and has worked on a bunch of funny TV shows including The Chris Gethard Show and (currently) The Tonight Show. This Saturday she’s performing back to back shows at Good Good Comedy Theatre at 8 and 10 p.m. Because she’s so busy we did this interview over email…

I’ve heard you’re a fan of puns. Lately I’ve been saying the name “Bette Middle Earth” to myself. Is that a good one? Can you think of a use for it?

I like puns a lot. I am not as good at them as other people are, and that’s why my dad and I started this show called Punderdome, which is a monthly pun competition that showcases other people doing puns. I think Bette Middle Earth is a great pun, especially if you contextualize it with a, “Who is J.R.R. Tolkien’s favorite diva?”

I enjoyed your portrayal of Betsy DeVos (see below). What celebrity would you most like to portray, and in what medium?

In terms of celebrities, I love the big bold ladies the most, you know, the Elaine Stritches, the Cher’s, the Liza’s, the Bridget Everett’s, the Bette Middle Earths. It would be a dream to just wake up one day with that kind of bravado. I’m not like that at all, so it’d be sorta fun to play someone like that on a show.

What’s it like working on the Tonight Show? Do you get to hang out with the Roots?

Working on the Tonight Show is fun! And the Roots are really great. Sometimes I think, “What the hell am I doing, The Roots are musical geniuses and I just asked them to play a ‘doink’ sound for my dumb dumb comedy skit.” But they are also very kind, so it makes it easy to ask for a doink sound.

According to your TED talk, everyone is terrible, and mostly this seems to be because of the little things we do. Are there any habits you’d like to kick to cut down on your own terribleness?

Hmm, this last question is a toughy. I think I’d like to kick the habit of making eye contact when I tip baristas. I used to be a barista for a long time and hated when people didn’t tip, so now I make a big fuss of it, and it’s obnoxious. I’d also love to kick the habit of looking at my phone every 15 seconds. I think I could get a lot done if I didn’t stop four times a minute to check that, still, no one has texted or called. And if I had a third wish (most genies grant three) I’d want to kick the habit of getting angry when I’m hungry. I just wanna be plain hungry, and not unintentionally alienate all my friends and family on the ride to Applebee’s.

Jo Firestone performs Saturday, July 15, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., $12, with Charles Gould, Good Good Comedy Theatre, 215 N. 11th St.