In 2010, Whitney Cummings was killing it. She was coming off of two crushing performances on the Comedy Central Roasts; had recently released her debut comedy album, Emotional Ninja; and filmed a one-hour special for Comedy Central. Her standup career was on fire, and she was being viewed as the next mega star of comedy. Then things got dicey.
Over the next couple of years, Cummings stepped away from the stage to pursue a booming acting career that included her own sitcom, Whitney (which was canceled after two seasons), as well as co-creating the wildly popular 2 Broke Girls. After that, she was given her own talk show on the E! network, Love You, Mean It (which lasted one season). While her visibility was at an all-time high, she was no longer viewed as a "comic's-comic" by her peers, and was seen as sort of an outsider in the standup world.
Three years after exploding on to the scene, Cummings is once again focusing on where she got her start, hitting the road for a theater tour across the U.S. This Friday, she'll be stopping by the Pantages with a new set of material that she promises shows a new side of who she has become.
Cummings spoke with City Pages last week and discussed her new outlook, enjoying oxygen, and what it means to be a lone wolf in comedy.
It's been a while since you toured. Are you looking forward to getting back out on the road?
Absolutely. I've been out of the game for a few years, so this is my first big tour in quite some time. I'm excited to hit cities that I haven't been to in a long time, like Minneapolis.
Any plans for a new special?
I'm actually working on it during the tour. The plan is to hit these 30 cities for the rest of the year, and then I'll probably shoot the new special in January.
Since the last time you toured, you've become a household name thanks to your TV credits. Do you feel more pressure to have polished material every night, as opposed to being able to work on new stuff?
It's always tough, yeah. I think that when people are coming to see you and they know who you are already, they're expecting a polished show. But that's the job. The bar is higher because people know me, and they have a preconceived idea of my point of view. The thing is in the past three years, a lot has changed about me. I've grown and my material reflects that. It's really a blast.
In the past, you've talked about jealousy you felt from other comics once your career really took off. Is that still something that bothers you? Do you think about it now that you're focusing on standup again?
I wouldn't say people were jealous necessarily. It was more like I was a part of this world, and then one day I was a sell out because I wasn't on the same level anymore; like I wasn't a part of that club. I felt sort of abandoned back then, but the thing about comedy is that you're a lone wolf. I don't worry about it, honestly. For a while I felt like I was stuck between two worlds with television and standup and it was just sort of bizarre. At the end of it though all I really care about is making people laugh.
Now that you've done sitcoms and talk shows, what else are you looking to do with your career?
Right now standup is the most important thing to me. I'm also back at 2 Broke Girls and I'm working on getting my voice back into that, and really I'm just kind of enjoying having a little bit of oxygen and getting my life back on track.
710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN