For Valentine’s Day, I’d like to introduce you to one of the funniest, greatest, most talented people I know.
Ms. Joanna Firestone is the brilliant comic mind behind the Brooklyn sensation Punderdome 3000 and NYC performing arts production company GoHorses. I’ve been lucky enough to know her since our Girl Scout days – and I want you to know her too. Without further ado: ladies and gentlemen, meet Jo!
So where are you now and what are you doing?
Jo Firestone: I am in Brooklyn. I hope that question was asking where I am physically. If you were asking where I am mentally or emotionally, I think I’m somewhere around a 6 or a 7. I put on live comedy shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and when I’m not doing that, I work as a cook or I’m looking at small dogs on petfinder.com.
Punderdome… it sounds dirty. Tell me more.
Punderdome is a monthly pun competition I put on with my dad. He flies in once a month from St. Louis to live out his dream as a self-proclaimed Rodney Dangerfield impersonator/game show host. We started Punderdome in the summer of 2011, and since then, it’s become surprisingly popular. It’s a show where anyone can sign up to participate in this competitive pun making game.
The audience “gets to” sit through maybe a gazillion terrible, groan-inducing puns and then they get decide who they like the best. It’s gathered this very strange loyal following. The audience gets very passionate about who they like and who they don’t like. I’ve seen them hiss, boo, yell at people, throw things. It gets vicious. They booed me. They booed my own brother off the stage. One time they screamed so loud in support of someone, my ears hurt. We started it thinking it would be a fun, carefree event. Now we know: New York City feels very strongly about their puns.
Is your New York more “Sex and the City” or “Girls?”
Oh, I really really hope neither. That’d be way too expensive. And also way too much talking about boys. Is there a show that takes place in New York where there are a lot of tired people on trains and sometimes they go into stores and ask where the bathroom is? Maybe they eat a lot of pizza standing up, too? That might be more in the right direction.
What’s your medium? What do you love about it?
I do mostly live comedy, mostly at night. I love it because you never know what to expect. Even if you have a set planned out, even if you remember all the stuff you’re supposed to remember, things can still go awry. And there’s an awe and beauty in knowing how to handle the unexpected with grace and humor. And while that kind of skill doesn’t come to you on your first day, eventually you get a sense of how to own almost everything that comes your way, whether you expect it or not.
Best experience you’ve ever had performing.
I host a weekly bingo night at this tiny bar in Brooklyn, and one time I convinced everybody playing to form a human pyramid.
Name your influences.
I love Ellen DeGeneres more than words can say. If I send her one more batch of brownies, I think I may have to re-evaluate some things.
How many times a day do you laugh?
I laugh at lot most days. It’s a crazy place here — there are a lot of things that can make you laugh.
Best advice ever received?
“You look like an idiot, but nobody cares, it’s fine.”
What’s your vice?
I get so angry at people who wake me up from naps.
What do you dream about?
I have the same dream almost every night. I’m with this big Indian family, in their house, and we have to play video games together.
Tell me a story.
Last week my co-worker walked in on me in the bathroom. Yesterday, he asked me to the movies. I don’t really know what to make of that.
Best of luck with that co-worker Jo. By the way, we’re totally with you on the eating pizza standing up thing.