Lesbian Comedian Erin Foley: The Autostraddle Interview

Erin Foley

Erin Foley at the 2009 NewNowNext Awards

It’s 10:15 on our last day aboard the Sweet Lez-Boat Cruise and we’re asleep when they call us to say we’ve got Erin Foley at 10:20 and so we hop out of bed like spring chickens because Erin Foley is just that funny. Get-out-of-bed funny! We met Erin for the first time in June at the NewNowNext Awards, where she was nominated for a “Brink of Fame” Award. She’s having the best year of her career so basically she’s way past the Brink of Fame now into Galaxies of Stars.

In addition to making us all pee in our pants at her Stand-Up show, Erin Foley has inspired LOLs on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and in her own Comedy Central special and has performed worldwide at clubs like Caroline’s and The Laugh Factory. When not standing up and making people laugh, she’s worked steadily in TV, movies and commercials. Perhaps she has convinced you to try Sonic Salads or warned you of A Gaythering Storm. She’s dating Nicol Paone from The Big Gay Sketch Show, as hoards of drunk lesbians noted after spotting them together at Dinah Shore. Nicol fessed up: “I am a bisexual lady, and indeed that was me making out with Erin Foley at Dinah Shore, but she told me that she was Anthony Kiedis.” So you see, simple twists of fate lead to love every day.

We begin our interview with Erin sharing her “story of last night” with us, as we have just arrived in our pajamas with coffee and no shoes and would like to hear of similarly distressing situations leading to our collectively lackadaisical state:

Erin Foley: … then I was like let’s get out of here, ’cause I really was thinking, “Let’s go to the ATM, I’ll get out another hundred, and we’re gonna COVER IT.”

Riese: That’s where the trouble begins.

Erin Foley: I started thinking that I already have such an addictive personality, this just can’t be good. You can see how it gets so ugly.

Riese: I never gambled ’cause I always worried I wouldn’t have enough for whatever the minimum bid is.

Alex: If I put in a 20 then as soon as I win back the 20 I’m like, Let’s get the hell out of here!

Riese: Yeah I’d be like “Oh, I won 50 bucks, let’s go before it all disappears.”

Erin Foley: I had the reverse notion, I was like, “I just won a hundred, let’s blow this out!” And then “let’s blow this out” turned into “Nicol and I came home horribly depressed at quarter of one being like [makes sound of despair] we were on such a high! She won 50 at craps and I was like “KEEP GOING!” like an a-hole —

Riese: Did she wanna stop?

Erin Foley: She actually did, but I was like, KEEP GOING! and she was like, “I dunno, I’m really nervous,” and I was like, “It’s fifty bucks, no problem.”

Screenshots from our interview with Erin Foley

Riese: You could have cashed out right then and gotten some duty-free cigarettes or a beer cozy.

Erin Foley: It was fun for like ten minutes.

Riese: Cocaine is fun for 20 minutes, so that would’ve been another way to spend $100.

Erin Foley: I just won a hundred dollars is there any cocaine anywhere?

Riese: Turn the boat back around!
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Official Erin Foley Interview starts here:

Riese: So what are you working on?

Erin Foley: Besides my gambling addiction? Well …  you know what’s exciting is I’ve got nothing on the books for a month. This year was so crazy and busy with stand-up gigs, shooting two pilots for E!, and last month I was just all over. I’ve done so much traveling, and it’s been really fun. Definitely the best year.

Riese: For your career?

Erin Foley: Career-wise, yeah. I would say maybe personal-wise, too, because of my [announcer voice] totally outed relationship [back to regular voice] with Nicol! Like, once someone sent us a link online where all these people were discussing if we were dating? And I was like, “people have a lot of time on their hands.”

Someone sent it and I thought it was the funniest thing ever, but also was like, Ew, that’s so gross, I’m going to pretend it is not happening. But first, I just had to go on there and correct something. ‘Cause they were saying, “Oh, Erin dumped Monica to date a celebrity [Nicol Paone],” And I was like, Okay um ew, cause actually the relationship ended mutually and she was just so unbelievably lovely and actually [the relationship was] not really that long.

Riese: Yeah, something like that randomly happened to us which is extra dumb ’cause we’re like, not important, and I had the bright idea to go on and be like, “Say what you want about my chin or that I’m not funny, but my best friend did not give anyone a blowjob in 2002 to get a job!” I got a lot of animated gifs in return, which was lovely.

Erin: Oh totally, I went on there, my username was like “Horseface” or something, I don’t know what I came up with. I didn’t want to be like “Errrriiinnn Foley says ‘Hey guys uhhh listen up! …'”

Riese: [Sigh] Oh, the internet.

Erin Foley: It’s a beast.

Riese: But you love Facebook, you said?

I feel like I have a really good sensibility in that my first and only career goal was “don’t work during the day.”

Erin Foley: You know what it was? I never really got into the MySpace, because I’m horrible with computers and it felt so inaccessible. Because I’d have to pay my friend to do it and she’d constantly trick it out, and then she couldn’t do it but it was all screwed up and I couldn’t fix it and I felt powerless. I was like, “I just wanna put shows up. I don’t need to interact with anyone. Just — YES — and here’s my show schedule, and that’s it.’

And so Facebook is just so easy – the only bad part is that  I just say yes to everyone – but just to post the shows and a business card. So I didn’t expect to have such FUN interactions with high school peeps and whatever. It’s been fun. And if I had a day job, this would be like really fun. You know? Now, all these things kind of feel like jobs. So, meh.

Riese: It would be fun if you were sitting in an office getting paid an hourly wage and you could be like “Ha, I’m on Facebook!” But now it’s like “I’m home playing on Facebook, for free!”

Erin Foley: It’s incredible. I think of the office jobs years ago in New York in my twenties, and I’m like “Christ, that would have been awesome” [if we’d had internet then].

Riese: You should look at Autostraddle when you’re home!

Erin Foley: Absolutely! I had no idea it was you two lunatics behind that site.

erin foley stand up 2Riese: So you’re not working office jobs anymore. You’re doing all stand-up?

Erin Foley: Yeah, since like 2004. ‘Cause everyone’s got their career goals, and they’re to “star in this” and whatever… I feel like I have a really good sensibility in that my first and only career goal was “don’t work during the day.” .

Because if you lower your bar, everything is so much better! So when I hit that almost six years ago, I was like “This is great. That’s all I need. Everything else is icing on the cake.”

You just go through phases with careers, where it’s commercial stuff that gets you by, and then it was stand-up that really took off and that was getting me by, and then the pilot stuff. You know, LA is great for TV and film, that’s why I left New York, and my L.A. goal is to buy a brownstone in Brooklyn or the West Village, and until that happens, I’m in L.A.

Riese: So what are the two pilots about?

Erin Foley: I don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t even know if I can talk about it – if that’s their “policy” or what have you.  One was sort of a Weekend Update, and one was sort of a remake of an existing show. But you can do ten a year and maybe get one every five. You just sort of do it and you move on. They have a lot of potential, I just have no idea what’s going to happen.

Alex: So when do you find out?

Erin Foley: I feel like pretty soon. One was semi dead in the water cause it was an entire new show that they had to sell to the network, and then the latest one was a remake. Convincing network executives to do new things with new people I would think would be a no-brainer [laughs], but I guess it’s not.

Riese: I know it’s really hard.

Erin Foley: But it’s all mostly super positive, and getting better and better and better. Cause it takes years in LA! I was like “Ha, I can make it there!” after eight years in Manhattan, But no.

Riese: So it’s easy now but it was hard at first?

erin foley noH8Erin Foley: It’s definitely not easy now, but it’s doable. I’m well-represented in standup; it feels like a well-oiled machine. It’s not like “Oh, I have to do this and do that,” I get up, I just write, audition, just stuff that you want to do. It feels healthy. It’s really nice. It feels like you’re in the middle of your career, not just trying to kick off your career.

Riese: So next year you might win the “Brink of Fame.”

Erin Foley: Oh yeah. Yeah, that was actually an excuse to go to Manhattan. Nicol was already there, and so it was a no-brainer. My sister was moving… it was actually really fun. It’s just… “Brink of Fame” after like ten years? It just made me laugh so hard! I was like, “Emerging Comic? I don’t think I’m really in that category.”

Riese: They should have “It’s About Time.” Or the “Way To Be Really Good For A Long Time” award. “The Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Erin Foley: Ten years… Maybe after thirty I can get the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jess: I actually caught Almost Famous on cable like a month ago, and I was like “Is that Erin Foley?”

Erin Foley: That was like year one. I did not know what I was doing. I moved to Manhattan, I was gonna go to grad school, started doing some comedy, like improv, and all the sudden I started doing stand-up, had a manager, and she was like “You have an audition.” I was like, “I should start taking acting classes.”

And then I got it! And people were like “You need to move to LA!” And I was like, “I’m twelve. I need to live in New York!” and then I was like, “Am I gay?”…

I mean, it feels like another life. Because now you see how the machine works in L.A., and you’re like “Oh, that could have gotten me that…” and I wasn’t on that path at all. I mean, now I am. But I could have never done that then. I would have just died. Manhattan was like my “growing up period.” I would never change that. So when I look back on that, I’m like “That was so random!”

Jess: So after that, did you try to get other feature roles, or just do stand-up?

Erin: No. I mean, I was in LA for like two weeks, and then I went back to Manhattan and was doing stand-up and other stuff.

Jess: In your act you say that your best friends should have told you that you’re gay to save you years of low self-esteem and horrible dates with men. Can you tell us your worst story about dates with guys?

Erin Foley: They weren’t bad really, it was just like we’d be getting along great, talking about football (and watching the game at the bar on these dates) and at the end of the night I’d think, “Ok, I guess I’ll make out with this guy now.” I’d go in for it and they’d give me a friendly punch on the shoulder instead like “Great game! See ya later, bro!”

Riese: How is your relationship with Nicol? Are you guys totally hilarious together, like because you’re both comedians?

Erin Foley: Oh absolutely, we don’t get anything done. We can’t go to the grocery store without making a big joke out of it, we can’t play basketball. It’s ridiculous and it’s really, really awesome. It’s really great.

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Here’s two clips from Erin Foley’s stand-up show on the second night of the Sweet Cruise if you want proof of how you wish she was your best friend forever:

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Check out Erin Foley’s blog here, or become one of her 6,000 facebook friends. You can also check out her MySpace but keep in mind, as aforementioned, it is not regularly updated b/c she doesn’t understand computers. She’s got a page on Comedy Central and you can check her out talking to our other favorite Julie Goldman in the Celesbian Interview Special.

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2674 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. oh man, when Erin was talking about the hurricane we survived the night before/day of during her stand-up, it was perfect. I couldn’t stand most of day let alone perform on the cruise if I had to.

  2. I really like her approach to career goals. Um, and her awkward dates with men? That sounds like every interaction I’ve ever had with guys. We discuss the DH/American League vs. National League for 10 minutes, realize we both have a crush on Angelina, and then become friends.
    I hope her pilots go somewhere. The networks could use more funny people like Erin.

  3. Love that Erin Foley! And I didn’t know that she was dating Nicol Paone from The Big Gay Sketch Show?! She is hands down my favorite cast member. They make a ridiculously cool couple. Great interview. Foley rocks.

  4. i have strong friend-shaped, love-type feelings for Erin. not ashamed to admit that i’ve had these since she yelled at William Miller back in ’00.

    also: she called you lunatics. LUNATICS! i think it should be your goal to have interviewees call you funny names. like knucklehead! no one uses knucklehead anymore.

  5. Pingback: Gays Apologize For Destroying Minnesota GOP Senate Majority Leader’s Marriage | YGA(dot)Net

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