Writer and comedian, Sarah Colonna. Photo Credit: David Zaugh.

Writer/comedian Sarah Colonna. Photo: David Zaugh.

GALO: There are many instances in your book in which you tell your friends that you don’t have time to meet anyone because you’re always too busy. Establishing yourself as a solid career woman takes serious dedication, which can sometimes take time away from one’s own personal life. Since you’re a successful comedian, you constantly travel to do stand-up performances and have stated that as a result, your social life at times suffered due to your professional life. How important was it for you to establish your career and set your own goals first? 

SC: Some people do want to just get married and have a family, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I just never wanted kids. I’ve always wanted this career, and I think if you really want a certain career, there’s a way to find balance later, like I found it with Jon. I found my career, I found him, and it works perfectly. But I think, at the same time that you’re trying to achieve your goals, if you let someone distract you too much or if they’re threatened by it — that goes for both men and women, obviously — it’s only going to become a hurdle for you and a stumbling block. I mean, there were definitely times with my ex when I wanted to be really excited about something that happened, but he was so unhappy about the way his own career was going that he made me feel guilty for myself, and that is the worst feeling. You have to support each other through the ups and downs. So if there’s someone that’s not on board with what it is that you want to do, or doesn’t believe in it, or sort of rolls their eyes at what you want to do, I say walk [away] from that person because that’s not going to help you. If it’s important to you, it needs to be important to them, too.

GALO: It’s great that you feel that support with Jon. I know you stated that both of you travel around the country for work. I’m curious, how do you keep in contact with each other when you’re apart, and how do you keep the relationship strong?

SC: It’s kind of funny, because we both travel so much, we never speak with each other on the phone. We both enjoy texting. I literally spoke with him on the phone one time, and it was because I was stuck at customs and I had to call him [laughter]! It’s just how we communicate. But we text constantly, and we stay in touch when I’m on the road and when he’s on the road. We want to reach out, too — like I want to talk to him when I’m gone. I never for a second even question what he’s doing because we’re always in contact — but also, I just know. We’re both very communicative, and I think that makes a big difference when you’re both gone from each other so much. You don’t want to just go, “Oh, I’ll just talk to him in a couple days,” because you start to lose a little connection with each other. It’s fun to share what’s going on when we’re both on the road. We talk about what’s going on and people we’re meeting or, you know, what happened at work that day. So lots of texting — that’s my advice to everyone, lots of texting [laughter].

GALO: Speaking of texting, from what I read, you texted your friends a lot whenever you needed dating advice. In your new book, you write quite a bit about how your friends were always there to lend advice, or accompany you on trips to Cabo or Maui when you needed to get away. However, you decided to cut ties with someone you had been friends with for over a decade because she came off as argumentative and rude. I think you called her a “jock high school boyfriend” in the book. How do you know which friends to hold on to and which ones to let go of?

SC: You can tell by the way they treat you and by their genuine excitement for you and your excitement for them. It goes both ways, obviously. I’m constantly talking to them about their relationships — and some of them are having kids, some of them are married, some of them are going through divorce, so I have people on all levels, obviously, that go through different things. I used to be the kind of person that didn’t want to bother people with stuff. Or I would think that if they want to talk about it, they’ll call me. But people don’t always know what’s going on with you unless you tell them. So I had to learn that it’s okay to reach out and it’s not a bother — and those people that actually love you, they want to help you out in the situation or talk you through stuff, and you can tell those people genuinely do.

The girl I had to cut ties with, she became — I don’t want to call her abusive, because she didn’t physically hurt me, but she was sort of an abusive person in the sense that she likes to challenge people and verbally sort of assault people to catch them off guard and to see how they’ll take it. And she was always sort of testing boundaries that way, and it became something I realized was such a negative impact on my life. There were times that she was a really good friend and really good to me, so I don’t want to discount that, but it became sort of hard and painful to be friends with her. And that’s when I thought this isn’t serving either of us any purpose. I can’t talk to her because she makes literally no sense, or she will be drunk or screaming about something — and me just sort of letting her act that way, didn’t help her either. So I realized for both of us, we just — let’s just not talk. Every once in a while, I hear from her, in like a text or something, but right now, I don’t respond. And I don’t know if that’s the best way to do it, but I feel like it is better if we just don’t talk. It ended and it’s almost like a high school relationship. You don’t go backward, you know?

GALO: Yeah. It’s great to hear that you do have friends that are really supportive, though, because they definitely have a lot to be proud of! You began appearing regularly on the hit E! show Chelsea Lately as a roundtable guest, and in 2009 you were hired full-time as a writer. How have you grown as a comedian and as a person since working on the show?

SC: It was crazy because I never really aspired to be a writer on a TV show. I always wanted to write. I always wanted to write for myself. I wanted to write stand-up — you know, ideas that I had for scripts and things like that, but I never thought about writing for someone else for a TV show. I just didn’t really think about it like that. So when I was doing the roundtable thing a lot on Chelsea Lately as a comedian — because that’s how you get on the show — all of a sudden, I was becoming a regular. When they approached me to write, there was actually a moment where I was like, “I don’t know if I want to do that.” And one of my good friends said, “Are you insane?” It wasn’t like I was just going into a room where I was just writing, I still got to be really creative for myself, too, because we wrote sketches and the writers kind of became a little part of the cast. So not only was I writing for Chelsea [Handler], who I genuinely find funny and had known for a long time and also really understood her sense of humor… The first time I heard her say something I wrote, I was like, “wow, this is great. I like this job. This is cool!” [Laughter]

I miss that show because we got to record ourselves for her and for other people, and we all got to know each other for writing jokes at 2 a.m. And it really taught me a lot. I learned a lot about writing. I learned a lot about television — and about producing and shows, stuff that I never would have known. And it really helped me grow as a performer too, because I knew all of a sudden the inner working stuff that I didn’t know before if I had not done that. I feel like, “OK, great, so when I want to sell [a show], I’ll understand more aspects of it.” I obviously have ideas for shows that I want to sell, and when it happens for me, [this experience] will make me a better and more gracious performer.

GALO: What was it like working with comedy legend Chelsea Handler? Is she really as rambunctious as people say she is?

SC: Absolutely! Absolutely, like 100 percent, she makes no bones about who she is, so it’s definitely great to see someone who’s just themselves and owns it. And she’s also very sweet; I don’t think people see her sweet side that often, but I think the people who know her, they know it’s there. She’s a good friend, too, but she’s definitely just as outspoken and says what she means. I definitely respect that about her, you have to respect that about somebody.

GALO: Going back to your career, you tried to turn your first book, Life as I Blow It, into a television show. However, it didn’t go any further than NBC buying the script. How were you able to move past this setback and remain optimistic?

SC: I’m glad it happened the way it did — because had it happened 10 years prior, I might have reacted very poorly. I might have been too devastated, so I’m glad I went through 15 years of trying to get to where I am now and having to struggle and stuff. I’m so grateful that it sold as a show to Happy Madison [Productions], which is Adam Sandler’s production company. I grew up laughing my butt off his movies. I love him and I think he’s just a good guy.

The first year was a little [bit of a] different experience [for me] because I had never done it before, so I was just stumbling my way through it. And even though it took a long time and I was proud of it, I felt like the script probably would have been better — and actually, I sold it twice. The second time, I actually sold the script twice. I was so proud of it. I worked with someone who was a really, really amazing writer as well. We got each other and we had a great script. The script was well-received and they really liked it. But at the end of the day, they only make a handful of the scripts they buy, so it’s kind of a crapshoot and so many factors that can come into it like, “oh, we already have a woman who has the lead in the show about her growing up somewhere, and now we can’t make another one.” So many factors come into it. I’ll never really know the factors that made them choose not to pick up mine, but I was obviously very disappointed. The first year, I expected it not to get made, but I felt like it wasn’t really near where it needed to be. And the second year, I actually think it was much closer to being made and I had more belief that it would.

Even though it was a little more crushing, I took it surprisingly well. I was like, “OK, I’ll write another book and sell it as a show, and eventually that one will get made.” It’s almost like relationships. You start with one that didn’t work out because it’s not supposed to, and the next one will be the very successful one. I have some optimism that it’ll pay off down the road.

GALO: So you’re definitely planning on pitching another show in the near future?

SC: Absolutely, yeah!

GALO: Society nowadays is obsessed with their animals, especially cats. There’s as much news about Taylor Swift’s cat as there is about Taylor Swift herself. And let’s not forget Grumpy Cat, who is a celebrity himself. You dedicated an entire chapter in your book to your cat Mischief. Why was it so important for you to include him in your book, and would you ever consider getting another pet in the future? After all, felines need friends, too.  

SC: There were conversations about another cat, and Jon will factor in, obviously, but he’s definitely set. If I want one, we can do it. I travel so much that getting a cat that’s young right now would be — I would feel bad leaving a baby kitten all the time, so it’s hard to have pets when you’re not home all the time. But I just feel like [writing about Mischief], it was necessary — [and] there were so many reasons. The main one is that a lot of the book is not just about relationships with men, it’s also about relationships with friends and relationships with family. [It is about] navigating through your late 30s, being single and finding out who you can rely on and who you can’t — who you can go on trips with, and all that stuff. So, that cat was such a huge part of my life; that cat was with me every day. Sixteen years later, it was incredibly devastating to have to put him to sleep. And even when I read the audio version of the book, I started crying when I was reading it, and I was like, “it’s been a year and a half.” [Laughter]

I just wanted to take the stigma off of cats — just because you’re single with a cat, it’s [seen as] such a stigma [in our society]. I wanted to write about this cat that I inherited; I didn’t even go out and get him and he became a big part of my life. And cats do become a big part of your life, and so I felt like he deserved his own chapter [laughter]. He stood by me a long time and he put up with a lot of my mood swings, for sure, and he was just a significant part of my life. Having to let go of anything you’ve had for 16 years — a pet, a relationship, anything — it’s going to be really hard. So it felt like it was a significant part of the story, and I was depressed when he passed; it was depressing to have to do it [put him to sleep] and live alone. Now, I don’t even have a cat in this house [laughter]. His story, it felt really well-placed in the book; it didn’t feel incongruous, it felt like this had a place in the story.

GALO: You currently headline comedy shows all around the country, and you were recently added to LIPSHTICK’s 2015 lineup. How does it feel to be a part of an all-female showcase?

SC: I’m excited to do that show! I’ve heard so much about it and wasn’t on it last year and I was like, “aw, I want to do that!” So when I got an offer to do it, I was really excited. It’s going to be super fun, and it seems like they have a great following of people going to that show. It’s kind of great — I don’t think anything has to be all-female, but I’m grateful and supportive that they’re all-female and showing people that there are some really great female comedians. I think it’s a great idea that you can see all-female headlines on any given weekend in Vegas; it’s pretty cool.

GALO: Your new book starts off with you being single and ends with you in a serious relationship. What do you think you learned most about yourself when you wrote this book?

SC: It’s really interesting; I address that at the end of the book. I started out thinking, ‘this is going to end with me [feeling] very empowered as a women and still being single.’ And then I was like, “whoops!” — now it’s going to end a different way. But I like that process of it because it keeps it very honest, and I didn’t want to act like I didn’t meet someone halfway through writing this book. It changed a lot of how I was living my life and it changed the stories and the outcomes, and trying to go online dating. It was pretty crazy, but it felt really natural to include that in the story, because like I said, I want to be honest. And, you know, if it gives people a happy ending — well, that’s nice, too!

You can pre-order “Has Anyone Seen My Pants?” on Amazon. The book comes out on March 31 and will be available across bookstores nationwide. For more information about Sarah Colonna and her upcoming projects, you can follow her on Twitter @sarahcolonna.