Meet your new favourite comedian. If you recognize the name Robby Hoffman as belonging to one of the most memorable semi-finalists from SiriusXM’s Canada’s Next Top Comic (2013), then we’re sure you’ve already checked out her hit web-series, which she created with Just For Laughs, called Comedy in Biblical Proportions. What’s funnier than Hoffman comedically interpreting bible passages? Um, pretty much nothing. The Montreal-based comedian has had two best-selling one-woman shows in her hometown at the Montreal Fringe Festival (2010 and 2011) and has performed at the Muskoka Cottage Comedy Festival outside of Toronto. She brings her quick wit and killer timing to our neighbours down south too (and has jokes about border-crossing to show for it), having performed at The Women in Comedy Festival in Boston twice and the Boston’s Arts Festival just this past fall. We’d be bragging our pants off if we had Hoffman’s street cred. She even hit the stage at the 2012 Just for Laughs Festival as the introduction act for two of the festival’s most popular features, The Nasty Show and The Ethnic Show. When she’s not slaying audiences with her awesomeness, Hoffman writes for TV and can check off speaking at TEDx Talk from her life to-do list thanks to a talk she did this past fall on women and comedy. Named one of the “Top 10 Comedians” by the Montreal Mirror and Top 50 on Afterellen.com, Hoffman’s star is clearly on the rise. We caught up with the funny lady to find out how she made it in the biz, where she looks for material and her best advice for aspiring comics.
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
Stand-up from an unsuspecting tiny red-headed ex-Chasidic lesbian Jew with a Yiddish drawl.
When did you know you were funny and know you wanted to be a stand-up?
Sneaking in a two-in-one question, ey? I always knew what was funny. Whether I was or not depended on the day. Sometimes you got laughs as a kid so you thought you were funny. So I guess then -– when I got laughs at camp (summer, not the concentration kind) and funny felt so nice.
Is there a first moment in your life that stands out to you when you realized you made people laugh?
It was just my thing. It was a thing that I was. I was chutzpadic and curious and said things that other kids didn’t maybe and I’m still that kid. I’ve been around funny people too –- we were always laughing. But I didn’t always want to be a comedian. I mean I certainly didn’t grow up thinking I’d do that -– who even knew that was a thing? But as I graduated university, I went out east to visit some friends and we were all cackling over Indian. And it was stories of my mother. And we were dying. And so I knew. I said, matter-of-factly, “I’m going to be a stand-up.” No one was shocked. It just made sense.
Give us one of your jokes that has killed it on the comedy club circuit in the past?
What is this, free joke Tuesday? Well for one, getting stopped at the border isn’t a story. Find out why at a show near you!
When you’re looking for new standup comedy material, where do you look for inspiration or what kind of things do you do to hopefully find new material to work with?
Everything is funny — it’s how you say it. My cause of death will be small talk. For sure. Small talk. Death isn’t funny but it can be. Living, going on and about, meeting hellish people, meeting underrated people, being monotonous, being in life, has been the best place for material building for me.
Who have been some of the most influential comedians on your career?
It’s always different. Influential? I suppose the big names in a way, because I like seeing comedy as a long term life that someone can have –- I find that inspiring. So the people who after 40 years are still doing it –- Seinfeld and Joan and so on. I also wait to discover certain comedians sometimes, to savour them. I’m into George Carlin now a whole lot. I mean it’s on Netflix and just there and it was time. I’m also privileged to see great talent locally so it’s all influential to some degree but at the same time comedy is a solo act — becoming your own comedian.
What’s your best advice for dealing with a hard crowd at a comedy club?
It’s never the audience’s fault.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
Tough one because there are so many. The biggest of all is having made this my living. It’s so unsure but continuing doing it is the greatest highlight.
Best advice and or tips you’d give to an aspiring stand-up?
What business do I have giving advice?
Where can we see you perform next?
I’ll be at the Montreal Comedy Nest on February 5th for the Just For Laughs showcase and in Toronto at the Comedy Bar on February 13th.