Comedian Alycia Cooper has enjoyed enormous success this year with back-to-back TV appearances (Gotham Live, Laff Mobb’s We Got Next, TV One’s NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, Comics Unleashed, Bounce TV’s BRKDWN and Bethenny), opening for Whitney Cummings on the Lipshtick Comedy Series in Las Vegas and winning the prestigious Ladies of Laughter (Pro Comic) competition. We caught up with Cooper to discuss her secrets to success and what she’s looking forward to in 2015.
How has winning the Ladies of Laughter competition affected your career?
Winning the LOL competition has affected my life by exposing me to people who either didn’t know I exist, or didn’t know how funny I am. I booked the show, Gotham Live because Chris Mazzilli was a judge in the finals and helped vote me in as the winner! I will also be in an upcoming movie called 12 Angry Men because the director was in the audience of my Gotham Live taping.
I started getting spots at The World Famous Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd in L.A. because Pauly Shore, the owner [and] Mitzi Shore’s son, was also in the audience of Gotham Live that night and came up to me and told me that I had to work his club. Lastly, Peggy Boyce has put me in a nice amount of theatre shows that extend to summer 2015.
What has been your experience on the Ladies of Laughter Funny and Fabulous Tour and joining the LOL family?
My experience…has been great. Each year, Jane Condon does a luncheon at The Friar’s Club in NYC, which allows us to come together and fellowship in the name of female comedy. This was, of course, my first year participating and the camaraderie and support that we gave one another is rarely seen in female comedy. It felt great.
What advice do you have for comedians who would like to compete in a comedy contest? What lessons can they learn from your experience?
My advice is to study that contest, research the past winners, ask questions of past participants and bring your A game. The lesson that can be learned from my experience was that I entered this contest three years ago and didn’t make it out of the first round. So keep working hard. Keep studying your craft. Stay focused, so that when you return you will be undeniable.
In what ways have you grown as a comedian this year?
I have grown considerably as a comic this year in the way that I attack this medium. I decided that I’d only accept headliner gigs and that I’d always bring my A game, because you never know who’s watching and people may give you a bad review. I’ve also grown in that if a joke I write doesn’t work, it doesn’t affect me the way it used to. I’m encouraged to go back, rewrite it and come again until it’s perfected.
What’s the biggest lesson you have learned as a comedian?
That some people make it unnecessarily hard for women comics. Just last week, I saw at least five flyers with only males. There were at least six males on each show. By the time you get to male number four, you’ve heard it all. Why not use a woman? The comedy audience is 85% female. This isn’t even good business. The perception that female comics aren’t funny still exist. Most male comics aren’t funny, but no one wants to discuss that. A show with variety is always good.
What skills and attitude do you attribute to your success to becoming a better comedian?
I study comedy. I read comedy books. I also read articles and watch videos about comics I admire all the time. My attitude is to go out and have a good time while on stage because it’s a blessing to make people laugh. My work ethic is I try to hit the stage at least four nights a week. I also try to write one new bit a week.
What is one thing that a comedian can do today to become better at their craft?
Just keep hitting the stage. It’s your comedy college.
How has the loss of comedy greats Robin Williams and Joan Rivers affected you? What did you learn from them?
Losing these greats so close together let you know how fleeting life really is. Robin Williams transformed comedy. Not only was he an amazing comic, but a stellar dramatic actor. He helped us comics not allow ourselves to be pigeonholed by Hollywood by reducing us to one box or one specialty.
Joan Rivers affected me more. As a woman in this game, who was able to amass a fortune and came along at a time when we were blatantly second class citizens, is phenomenal. I didn’t realize how much Joan touched my life until after she died. I must have watched 100 hours of YouTube videos of her, which I believe was my way of mourning her loss.
What would you like to achieve in 2015? Any resolutions?
In 2015, there are so many things I would like to achieve. I’m already on my way and I’m so optimistic. Finally, I’m in a healthy relationship. I have balance between work and play…(look out for a ton of new relationship jokes.) I feel good about where my life is going.
My other resolution is to do as many TV shows and films as possible. I’ve got to get and keep my name out there. I am also writing a feature-length screenplay, a sitcom (based on my life), producing a podcast and filming a talk show pilot that I created. Every morning, my motto is: “Rise and Grind!”