The first show of Danforth Comedy Festival introduced me to a very funny lady – Mary Kennedy. And yes, she is one of those Kennedys. The headlining comic has performed all over the States (once a dyed in the wool Bostonian, now LA is her home) and appears regularly at Flappers Comedy Club, The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles/Long Beach as well as at the Comedy Store LA/La Jolla, Comedy Chateau, The Ice House and The Improv. From the minute she took the stage at Socap Comedy Theatre, Mary had me in stiches. Not only is the 23yr veteran of stand-up comedy hilarious, she’s a multi-talented actor who’s worked on stage, tv and big screen. I reached out to Mary for this interview and I learnt she’s even more than all that….Mary, congrats on your appearance at the Danforth Comedy Festival. You had only just arrived from L.A. when you took the stage that first Friday night – did you enjoy the welcome to Toronto from the audience and do you enjoy participating in festivals such as the Danforth Comedy Festival? I love Toronto! I felt so welcome, it was like being home! I love doing festivals – as a comic, it is a great way to socialize and work in front of different audiences. I do a podcast called Order Up, with Kelly, Cari, Mary and Matt. It’s a foodie podcast with me and three Canadians. It was the first time I recorded with them in person…they are my Toronto family now. My Order Up family and the Danforth Comedy Festival really rolled out the red carpet for me.
You’re also an accomplished TV actor, producer and director – with the current SAG-AFTRA & Writers’ strike in the States, was this a good respite for you, enabling you to get in front of an audience as a writer as well as performer? Yes, an amazing respite. It was good to be on stage in front of a live audience, connecting with them through laughter. The strike will run its course. I think it is empowering for the writers and actors to be unified, I hope it is resolved quickly, but now is the time for us to stand for what we want and truly need.
You’ve also been nominated for awards for stage acting (congrats) – which do you prefer as an artist: stage, screen or stand-up comedy and why? All of the above. Each one is different. There is nothing like having an audience with you during a comedy set. In a stage play, connecting with others on stage in front of a live audience is a joy. I’m doing my one woman show Mid Life Mood Swing and I’m on stage alone for 53 minutes. That is both like headlining a comedy set and working on a play – it’s absolute heaven. Screen is like grad school – watching production work, working with directors and other actors; it is the best training in the world. I always learn something new. Then I get to watch the finished work on screen, that always gives me goosebumps. It is so collaborative and I get to meet the most interesting people in the world in all these venues. Has all this showbiz experience contributed to your comedy writing or do you draw from your own life experience – dating, marriage, family? Yes definitely. But I come from a very Irish catholic family. I am also a Kennedy “third cousins, twice removed” so all of the tragedy, none of the money. I learned very early on, especially from my mother, to find humor in tragedy. This made me the comic I am today. My mom who started a wedding band after her divorce, consisting of 40 year old divorcees, singing Hot Stuff and Locomotion, called the MOOD SWINGS. She taught me how to be a kick ass business woman and how to get paid for my art.
Have you been inspired by other female comics who fought hard to get their 15mins in the spotlight and recognition from male counterparts? Yes, when I came up in comedy in NYC, I was in a group of the most talented comics who happen to be female. Every single one of us is experiencing a great career and we still support each other along the way. We are all happy for each other’s successes. There is room for everyone!Any advice for aspiring funny ladies out there? Figure out who you are and be proud of that! Don’t be the comic that you think people want you to be. Have a clear point of view and work your set all the time. Find a community that will be supportive of you!
And what’s your next big gig? I’m touring with my one person show Mid Life Mood Swing: Starring Mary Kennedy, directed by Charlene Ward. First stop is the Boston area. Then Off Cabot through John Tobin Presents, in Beverly, MA. August 25 &26 at 8pm. Tickets are available through: www.offcabot.org
Thanks for chatting with me, Mary. You can enjoy Mary’s work on YouTube and can follow her on Instagram: @mkennedycomedy