First Posted: 4/8/2013
Young, beautiful, and witty, Jessimae Peluso is on her way up.
The youngest of five sisters, the Syracuse, N.Y., native was always vying for attention, and she got it when she started doing improv comedy in Boston at the age of 18. Eventually, she fell into stand-up and moved to New York City in 2005, just recently catching a big break by scoring a spot on MTV’s “Girl Code,” set to premiere Tuesday, April 23 at 10:30 p.m. EST/9:30 CST.
She’s still doing stand-up, though, and will be performing two shows locally with John Walton, Joe Bryan, and Kevin Lepka at Main Street Bistro (1315 Main St., Dickson City) on April 20 and The Gravity Inn (40 Gravity Planes Rd., Waymart) on April 27. The Weekender talked to Peluso about her recent success and her past experience in Pennsylvania.
THE WEEKENDER: How did you know that this was what you wanted to do for a living?
JESSIMAE PELUSO: I didn’t go to college. I was never very good at concentrating in school, and I just kind of knew once I was on stage that I was good at it naturally. I’m not a very disciplined person. I’m kind of rebellious and I don’t like authority and I’m slightly irresponsible and not very organized, so that combined with stand-up comedy is very hard because you need to have a work ethic, just like anybody running a business, and that’s something I’ve worked hard on developing these past few years.
W: Is it tough to be a female comedian? Do men have it easier in the business?
JP: I don’t think so at all… There are less females doing it, so if anything, if you’re good as a female, you stand out more. There’s usually like one female on each show; two is a lot… I don’t think that gender really plays that much of a role negatively. I think if you make it negative, it will be negative.
W: You have a very engaging stage presence. How do people typically react to your style of comedy?
JP: When I first started out, I was kind of all over the place, no real organization, as I mentioned before – a lot of scatological humor that was unnecessary. I’ve toned it down and I’ve made it more deliberate and more specific so that it’s not this ostentatious, obnoxious behavior. I am a ball of energy, so I’ve just been working on harnessing that energy and using it more specifically.
W: I’m sure your travels take you all over, so what was one of your best stand-up gigs and what was one of your worst?
JP: That might be one gig, actually. It was when I went to Oslo, Norway. I was there two summers ago… I was just starting to find my voice and get comfortable and I was a little cocky for my own good and I was like, ‘I’ll be fine. They’ll love me. I’ll just do my thing.’
Regardless of them being able to speak that language, English is a second or a third language (to them), so there’s a little bit of a delay, and they don’t really laugh – they clap. So after each joke, there would be like this pause, longer than I’m used to, and then clapping, so that really threw me off. I’m like, “I feel like this is a three-year-old’s dance recital. I don’t know what’s happening.’ But by the end of the week, I kind of found my pace and got into the Scandinavian groove a little bit, but it was a little tricky.
W: You were on NBC’s “Minute to Win It.” What was that like?
JP: Oh, man. That was a long process… We were “casted” and we had to make a fake story. I couldn’t say I was a stand-up comedian; they didn’t think that was interesting enough. I had to say that I was a horse wrangler… They sat me down and they were like, “OK, we need to build a story. What are you going to be?” I’m like, “Me? A comedian? I thought was enough!”
They’re like, “What else do you like?” “Horses?” And they’re like, “Perfect. Let’s go with that.” It was a very interesting look into the other side of TV and the other side of the Hollywood industry that I will probably never do again, but it was a lot of fun.
W: How did you end up on MTV’s “Girl Code”?
JP: I have been auditioning with MTV for a couple years, and I went in and auditioned and got it and it’s been one of the greatest things that’s happened to me in so long. It’s like a milestone. I’m really excited for it, and I feel like it’s one of those things like a door opens, and then a bunch of other doors open… I’ve never been so excited, honestly, about anything. Maybe besides watching “Full House” because I’m a big (John) Stamos fan. The thought of him and I maybe getting married one day is the other thing that makes me very excited.
I kind of approach “Girl Code” the way I approach my stand-up. I like to keep it real, I like to keep it funny, and I like to be honest. I’m still trying to maintain my mouth a little bit because I do have a little bit of a trucker mouth, so the editors and producers are always trying to reel me in.
W: Have you ever performed in our area before?
JP: I have been in Pennsylvania. I actually performed across the street from a firehouse once, which was a dream come true as a girl, having firemen on the corner screaming your name. It was honestly a dream come true, and I have it on video if you need proof.
The firemen had actually blown up my photo and put it on a poster board and were on the corner like a couple of (Justin) Bieber fans. I was on one corner, they were on the other corner, and we’re just cheering at each other.