“My sense of humor is a mix of 7-year-old child and 70-year-old dad,” Giulia Rozzi, a Brooklyn-based comedian who is performing Saturday at the Black Cat, tweeted the day before we spoke. That roughly translates into self-reflective and self-deprecating bits about getting married too soon (and then promptly getting divorced), the absurdity of face tattoos, frequently poking fun at her parents. With, of course, some jokes about bodily fluids tossed in.
We chatted about life, love and the pursuit of a good laugh. Here are excerpts:
How did you get into comedy?
The first time I tried it was in college, and then I just sort of kept going back to it. It’s a really hard thing to quit. My family is really funny. They’re very loud, blunt Italian immigrants, so I definitely picked it up from them.
I watched your TEDx talk on healing loneliness with laughter. It ended with the Charlie Chaplin quote, “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it.” What makes something painful funny?
Just being really honest about how it can feel, being really vulnerable when you talk about it, sharing your fears — even the thoughts you know are irrational.. . . It’s usually my head and heart that are battling. . . . They don’t always communicate properly. The way that I play with it is just by looking at [her pain], laughing at it and just knowing that it’s so silly.
You have a “Bad Bride” show about the pressure on women to get married and your experience with that. Where does that pressure come from?
Since I was kid — it seems like since the beginning of time — getting married has always been treated like the big serious finale of everyone’s lives, like it’s the thing you’re supposed to work toward.
Cameron Diaz just got married, and the headline was, “Finally, Cameron Diaz won’t die an old crow by herself,” or whatever. And I was like: “Jesus Christ! The fact that she has a successful career and is financially independent — that’s all bull----? But now that she got married, it’s like, “Finally!” . . . It’s the end of the movie, it’s the end of the book. It’s the phase everyone is supposed to strive for.
Marriage is a wonderful thing. . . . But we treat it like it is the be-all, end-all, like it will solve everything. . . . That ends up causing people to make some decisions that might not be the best decisions for them.
It certainly wasn’t the end of your story. It was sort of the beginning, right?
Yeah. My situation [getting married and divorced in her late 20s] was just a case of bad timing. I wasn’t ready to get married. I got married because I didn’t know what else to do. . . . I’d been with this guy forever; there was no reason for me not to. All those sorts of “why not?” reasons. But really, the reason you should get married is because you really want to, rather than you think you should.
Is single life funnier than marriage?
No, all stages are hilarious.
What’s the best thing about being single — and the worst thing?
I’m not single anymore, but I would say the best thing is being alone. And the worst thing is being alone.
Are there any topics that you feel like are off-limits when it comes to comedy?
I don’t think anything is off-topic, depending on what the intention is. . . . If you’re going to talk about something to educate, to fight for the greater good, to add something intelligent to the conversation, then go for it.
But if you’re just talking about something for shock value that’s going to provoke more hate and more pain, I’m just not into that. I’ve never understood the humor that kicks someone who’s already down. . . . I’ve never been someone who, the second a celebrity dies, jumps on Twitter and is bashing them. Can you bury them first? Can you wait one second?
Unfortunately, sometimes comedians think, “Well, I can say anything because I’m a comedian.” Of course you can say anything. Anyone can say anything. Just because you’re a comedian doesn’t mean we have to like it.
How does your comedy educate people?
Most of it is just really silly and stupid — and probably some of it is self-serving. It’s like: “Oh, I just want to tell this story about me.” But I try to discuss issues that affect women — in a funny way — and issues about depression and anxiety and relationships. I think that just sharing a very open, self-aware style of comedy and storytelling, I think that . . . helps other people have permission to be more honest themselves.
[But not] all comedy has to be so heavy and for the greater good.
Your parents do show up in your routines a lot. They sound hilarious. How do they react to being in your material?
At first, they were really weirded out by it. They’re pretty private. But then as time has gone on, they have moments. My mom, especially, she’ll say something and then she’ll be like — “Ah, did you do a joke about that?” Now it’s almost flattering to her. My parents are really, really silly people. They impersonate one another. They’re just really loud and funny. And so it’s their fault that I do this.