Meet Comedian Liz Grant
This funny girl mines her love life to hilarious effect at her monthly stand-up shows in Danville.
“I’m dating online right now,” says Liz Grant. “And I’m barraged with new jokes every time I sign on.”
Photo by Dave Strauss
Pain, they say, can be great fodder for humor. Just ask Liz Grant, a comedian and San Lorenzo native who regularly discusses her two marriages (and divorces), adventures in the online-dating world, and struggles with drugs and alcohol in front of a live audience.
“I figure it this way: I’m just going to [be honest] … and the right person will actually be attracted to that,” she says. “The truth is, we’re all weird.”
Grant—who has produced and starred in three one-woman shows, including Dating Is Comedy, which garnered raves during its San Francisco run in 2014 and 2015—is known in the East Bay for the monthly standup showcase she runs at Danville’s Village Theatre. Comedy With Liz Grant and Friends features sets from nationally and locally renowned comics, including Grant herself, who performs 25 minutes of new material to near-capacity crowds each month. She sat down with Diablo recently to talk about her eclectic career, Danville audiences, and what makes dating so funny.
Q: What was your first experience in the comedy world like?
A: I waitressed at Tommy T’s Comedy Club from 1990 to ’92. … I did comedy there drunk once, and people said I was funny. Then I got sober, tried it again, bombed, and realized comedy is hard!
Q: You’ve shared stages with comedy legends Robin Williams and Dana Carvey. What was it like working with them?
A: It was wonderful. This was at the Throckmorton [Theatre] in Mill Valley. They both lived there, so they would come on Tuesday nights and hang out in the green room. Robin was notoriously gracious and all-inclusive and never had that Hollywood veneer. He wanted everyone to feel comfortable. One time I did something really ridiculous: I did this act that was way too big for the room, and he just picked up and did this bigger move that tagged on mine. It was just so loving and so gracious.
Q: How would you describe your monthly shows at the Village Theatre?
A: I would describe them as fun! The unpredictable happens, and I feel that is what makes live comedy magical. This is a unique experience; it’s never going to happen again.
We have regulars, and they all are starting to know each other. … I feel love in the room there, and so I make sure I go out into the audience [before each show]. It’s important to me they all feel welcome, and it thrills me to see big smiles when people leave.
Q: How do Danville audiences differ from other crowds you’ve performed for?
A: They don’t like the F-word or any comedy that’s mean. So I only book joyful comics that wish to unite people with laughter. I tried a few edgier comics when I was finding the pulse of my shows, but it turns out Danville likes animated, smart comedy. They want to have fun and forget about the problems of the world.
Q: You talk about dating a lot in your act. What is it like discussing such a personal topic onstage?
A: It’s [based on] my experiences—not male- or marriage-bashing. That’s important. I want people to feel great about whatever their status is.
It might make me look bad to say, “I just went on a date with a psychiatrist, and he really wants to see me every four to six weeks.” But it’s true! [Laughs] I don’t want to exaggerate things, because the truth is both stranger and funnier than fiction.
Q: You seem to be a dating expert.
A: For a year and a half, I was managing the online dating of a techie who was in search of a wife. And in July 2017, he got married! I turned out to be the perfect assistant for him, because I had done all this research about online dating for my shows; I was trying to figure out the psychology behind it.
It’s marketing. [With profile pictures,] it depends what color you wear, it depends what angle men versus women are facing in their photos, as to how people respond. It’s bizarre. Like, men love to see selfies, but women do not like to see a man doing a selfie. It’s really funny.
So I helped him with his photos, drafting messages, finding dates, and advising him before and after dates. It appears I know a lot about relationships. The hard part is applying it to my own life.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I’m speaking with some venues about a podcast called It’s Not Them, It’s Us [based on her show of the same name, which she performed at the Village Theatre on Valentine’s Day], in which we have comics do [sets about dating and relationships] for a live audience, and then sit down for a panel discussion. Hilarity—and maybe some understanding—will ensue. … The goal is to have a tour that would play in theaters; I’d love to be able to go across the country with it.
The next Comedy With Liz Grant and Friends shows take place on April 25 and May 3. villagetheatreshows.com.
Liz Grant: Fast Facts
“My dad is hilarious. Sometimes I’ll post his lines on Facebook, and he’ll get 100 likes on something he just said off the cuff.”
Winning the Brian Regan Impression Contest.
First time she performed stand-up:
At a high school talent show. “My joke was: ‘It makes no sense that when my gas tank is on empty, I drive to the gas station faster.’ Not exactly A material, but amusing.”
“I owned a massage center in Pleasanton. … ‘I put in hard time in the meat mines’ is how I like to say it. It was really exhausting. But the whole time, I’d be thinking about comedy.”