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Comedian speaks about her career and new tour

YOU MAY RECOGNIZE funny lady Debra DiGiovanni from her days on MuchMusic’s Video on Trial, but for those who want to see the Toronto native performing some of her own material, now’s your chance. DiGiovanni is embarking on her first headlining tour, called Single Awkward Female Tour, in Ontario this December.

The comedienne has faced an uphill climb in becoming a well-known comic.  After graduating from univeristy, DiGiovanni says she didn’t know what she wanted to do after. She credits her job giving tours at CityTV with helping her find her calling.

“It was like an audience for the first time,” she says. “It was just [giving] tours to Grade 7 classes from Mississauga, Ont. … and that was when the seed was planted.”

According to DiGiovanni, the start of her career was filled with some discouragement and doubt, mainly because she was a female comic.

“There has definitely been some discouragements—there really have. At the beginning you think to yourself, ‘Oh my gosh, am I going to be strong enough to do this? Am I going to be able to put up with this kind of stuff?’ And you do. You have to,” she says.

“It gets easier as you go along. I mean, 11 years comedy, I’m on TV all the time, and I still do shows where, you know, old men [say], ‘Get off the stage.’ And you’re like, ‘Really? Wow.’ There’s always going to be dudes like.”

DiGiovanni attributes much of the difficulties she faced to being a woman in comedy.

“It’s intimidating to stand on stage [and] demand people to listen to you rather than look at you or whatever, especially for women. I know it sounds a little old fashioned, but it’s true,” she explains.

DiGiovanni insists she never knew she’d become this successful in stand-up when she started 11 years ago.

“I’ve just been very lucky,” says DiGiovanni. “I don’t think you ever really think about [it] too much in the future, when it comes to this kind of stuff because it’s depressing. But you kinda gotta go, ‘All right, what’s going to happen this year?’ and go from there.”

DiGiovanni, who cites British funny man Jimmy Carr and the comic Maria Bramford as some of her favourite performers, explains her comedy is about where she is in her life.

“Comedy is really just kind of like where you are at that moment. You know, telling stories of where you are in your life, so that’s kind of where I am right now. In two years, who knows? I could be [the] married awkward female,” explains DiGiovanni.

Besides wanting to expand her tours and work more in the United States, there’s more that she wants to accomplish. Don’t be surprised if you see DiGiovanni grace your TV screens on other programs soon.

“I would like to do something else on air,” she says. “When we first started [Video on Trial], we never even dreamed it was going to get that popular.

“I mean, I love Video on Trial, but I’d like to do something a little different as well … maybe like hosting something. I’d love to do that, I really would. I think I’d make a great talk show host at some point.”

Catch Debra DiGiovanni at Centrepointe Theatre on Dec. 8 for her Single Awkward Female Tour. Tickets are available here.   

—Sofia Hashi