Arts & Culture

Comic April Macie talks about dirty jokes and Michael Bolton

April Macie’s therapist and father both encouraged her to get into stand-up comedy.
April Macie’s therapist and father both encouraged her to get into stand-up comedy. COURTESY PHOTO

Because of its graphic — and gross — nature, we can’t tell you the sexual rumor April Macie’s ex-boyfriend spread about her in high school. But suffice it to say that it made for a long four years.

Still, Macie, 36, can laugh about it today. In fact, the comic, who beat out future sitcom star Whitney Cummings in Howard Stern’s 2008 “Hottest and Funniest Chick” contest, has no problem talking about sexuality in her act.

Macie, who grew up near Allentown, Pa., will appear at Cal Poly with the Bob & Tom Comedy All-Stars tour, which also features comics Pat Dixon, Henry Phillips, Greg Warren and host Kristi Lee.

Macie, who appeared on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” spoke to us by phone about that rumor, dirty jokes and her mother’s fascination with Michael Bolton.

Q: What did you dream of doing as you were growing up near Allentown?

A: I never thought I had much of a future in Allentown. I really had no idea what I wanted to do. My therapist and my dad were the two people who told me I should do stand-up. And one day I was driving home from the Comedy Store, and I was like, “Oh, this is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.”

Q: How old were you at that point?

A: I was probably around 26 years old. I was a real screw-up for quite a few years. Comedy saved me.

Q: So when you were with the therapist, were you making him laugh?

A: I was always trying to entertain. Just like with an audience, you need their approval, you need laughter. It’s basically the equivalent of them saying they like you. And I just needed him to like me. Instead of being healthy, I just needed to be liked.

Q: In your bio, you mention rumors about you in high school. What’s the sociological explanation for those types of rumors?

A: I was a cute girl in a small town — I did a lot of print work in high school. My mom would schlep me to New York, and I would be in Teen and Seventeen Magazine. So you don’t equate it at the time with jealousy. You don’t know why people don’t like you, it’s just teenage insecurity.

Q: So on the one hand, you were doing these things that would normally make you popular. On the other hand, you’re dealing with these damaging rumors.

A: I don’t think in a small town that stuff ever makes you popular. Plus, my family was really strange. So I wasn’t properly socialized as a child.

Q: I saw that your mom was really into Michael Bolton.

A: She loves him something awful.

Q: She actually paints pictures of him?

A: There are various pictures, like one of my mom and Bolton both topless on a sea horse holding a trident. It’s really crazy stuff.

Q: When you were starting out what were some of your worst experiences?

A: I was heckled by Olympic gold medalist Oksana Baiul in New York City. She shouted out, “I am so much hotter than you” about a minute into my set. And I was like, “Well, maybe that’s true. But obviously, I have a better personality, and if you don’t shut your man pleaser, I will come down there and beat you with your own ice skate and make you stand in the bread line.” I think she got it.

Q: I saw that you were voted the hottest comic on Howard Stern. You beat out Whitney Cummings, and now she has a TV show.

A: Yeah, I won the contest; she’s winning at life.

Q: Sexual humor is a big part of your act. Was it that way right off the bat or did you work your way into it?

A: I just started out dirty. What I don’t understand is how in America sexuality is demonized, yet we’re totally desensitized to violence. You turn on the TV every day of the week, and you see women being murdered and stabbed and raped. But somehow masturbation is taboo. It can’t be as damaging as violence. I don’t really understand why we’re so puritanical.

Q: You don’t shy away from your own sexuality in the humor. How much does that increase the creepy comments from radio DJs or whoever?

A: I think for any female comics, you’re going to get those weird sort of backhanded compliments. There’s still a real back-of-the-bus mentality when it comes to female comics. I feel like I embrace my sexuality — I love taking pictures in my underwear.

Q: Is the sexual humor awkward with your parents?

A: Had they done a better job as parents, I’d be a doctor, so this is what they get. They get a daughter who talks about balls for 20 minutes.

Q: Do you ever see them in the audience?

A: I try not to let them sit up front. I think any time you have anybody you know that you can make eye contact with, it makes you feel like a weirdo and takes you out of the present.

Reach Patrick S. Pemberton at 781-7903.