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Liz Russo: Fat, Sober, and Single – Standing-Up, Again.
Recovery Comedians, Comics Anonymous, Recovery Comedy, Recovery Comic, Clean and Sober Comedy
Liz Russo Recovery Comic

It can be said that Liz’s gateway drug was the glazed donut. Her first stint in rehab was fat camp. Liz learned early to use her humor to disarm and engage others. She also used her struggle with weight as a positive and became a plus size model, from which Liz draws much of her comedy material on body image issues. After deciding to get the gastric bypass procedure at age 23, Liz lost 100 pounds. But what she lost in inches, she gained in alcoholism!

Liz’s progression as an alcoholic was fast and furious; causing her to be convicted of two DUI’s which landed her 1 year in a prison cell and 5 years of state parole. The ability to be funny came in handy with her survival. After release from prison and a relapse that caused two public drunkenness charges, this self-proclaimed “hot mess” was sent, by her parole officer, to rehab. Liz is sober and embracing life in recovery, including celebrating life’s struggles. Liz enjoys sharing her courage through humor, which is honest and vulnerable, giving a little experience, strength, and hope to all audiences.
It may not seem glamorous being fat, sober, and single in her 30s, but Liz and her exuberant likability makes all of life and even its adversities sexy, joyful, and earnestly comical.
Liz has been performing for over 10 years and has performed for comedy clubs, colleges, theaters, and events across the country.

Her self-produced One Night Stand with Liz Russo comedy showcase was a long running hit at Carolines on Broadway in NYC. Liz was also named as a finalist for the return of Star Search, and performed with such comedic greats as Dave Chappelle, Artie Lange, Jim Florentine, Jim Norton, Bobby Kelly, Lisa Landry, Laurie Kilmartin, Jessica Kirson, and Lisa Lampanelli.

Recovery Comedy: What were you like as a kid?

Liz Russo: I was an eager to please over-achiever goodie-goodie type-A personality. I was always smiling, everyone’s friend, and a leader, active in all after-school organizations. I was a very social, smart, confident, happy, kind, and unique; but never quite meeting my parents’ standards, at least in the mind of an only-child. I grew up overweight, but never really teased or bullied, because I was so gosh darn confident, likable, and funny! Did someone say, “defense mechanism”? My self-deprecating jokes were not to be outdone by others! At the end of the day, I really liked being me. Like fellow recovering comedienne Kristen Johnston says in her book GUTS, “And at the end of the day, funny and interesting will always kick pretty and perfect’s ass.”

Recovery Comedy: What made you decide to become a stand-up comedian and how long have you been performing?

Liz Russo: I owe everything I am as a comedienne to a heckler. While in college I was a member of Mission IMPROV-able, a Washington DC based short form improv group. Performing a game called “Celebrity Advice” someone yelled out at me, “She’s the fat girl from Wilson Phillips!” I felt publicly humiliated and I cried in my dorm room, vowing never to perform again. Then, an hour later, and a box of Entenmann's cookies, I began to write. I hosted the show the next week coming on stage singing Hold On for One More Day, by Wilson Phillips, complete with a box of jelly donuts. Zing! I performed some of my newly written stand-up material that confronted the heckler by admitting to some of my flaws like being overweight, and twisting it and turning my insecurities into a sexy, fearless and confident yet vulnerable monologue of personal material. BAZINGA! Heckler gave me a standing-O and thumbs up. That experience transformed me. Law School? Nah. I became a stand-up comedienne in 2000, the day after college graduation. I went into NYC and did my first 5 professional minutes on stage and I was a success. I thought to myself, “I can do this. Hell, I have to do this.”

Recovery Comedy: Were you performing stand-up comedy before you got into recovery?

Liz Russo: Most of my comedy is pre-recovery. I think I went through several transformations in my life during the 12 years of doing comedy. I’m fat, I’m dating, I lost 100 pounds, I’m a drunk, I’m in jail, I’m out of jail, I’m on food stamps, I’m in rehab, I’m fat again, I’m sober, I’m single, I have cats and a tattoo how did that happen, I’m still fat, I’m celibate and not by choice, now I am almost off parole... Hey we all got issues right? Learning to love life’s struggles is the key to my happiness and recovery, and my comedy!

Recovery Comedy: Does your comedy have a message and if so what is it?

Liz Russo: Celebrate your flaws. We are all imperfect. As humanity, we are more the same then we are different. We all have struggles. Once you find the humor within the pain, you realize you can survive it.

Recovery Comedy: Who are your comedy idols?

Liz Russo: Richard Pryor who turned the darkest pain into the deepest comedy.

Bill Cosby who I learned, “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers.”

And Lucille Ball who said, “I’m not funny. What I am is brave.”

Recovery Comedy: Where does your inspiration for material come from?

Liz Russo: All my material is autobiographical. My inspiration is the uncomfortable, the awkward, and the embarrassing moments of life. If I buy a plunger at CVS and think, wow, this is really embarrassing; then I also know it is funny. It’s important for me to share that I went to prison for my DUIs, as shameful as that seems. People need to know that chubby, cute, college educated, middle class, white girls go to prison too. Maybe they’ll laugh at a joke, and learn to be less judgmental toward others. Maybe I can break down a few stereotypes in my comedic process. The more honest I am, the more vulnerable I let myself be on stage, the more my messages come through the humor of it all.

Recovery Comedy: What is your joke writing process?

Liz Russo: I’m the worst. I’m so self-critical and impatient. From the time I have the thought of the joke, to the time I find my pen to write it down, I decide that it’s not funny enough to write down and I dismiss it. When I was drinking, it was to slur my absolutely brilliant and hilarious premise into the voice recorder on my phone and listen to it the next day not knowing what the hell I was talking about.

When I write a new bit, I test it out in short form with social media, and then in conversation with my ex-boyfriend to see if he laughs, then on stage in bits and pieces here and there, then it forms and co-mingles with the routine I have already. Truth be told, I am a better performer than I am a writer. I want to erase this paragraph right now in fact!

Recovery Comedy: Can you tell us about your one person show?

Liz Russo: Although I write what I know, you don’t need the same exact experiences as me in order to relate. It is unadulterated Liz Russo to be sure. Everything has a sexual undertone, I can’t help it. I exude it. I’m generally nice and people like me, you won’t be offended, even if I get a bit racy. The one thing I am is honest, and people can respect that.

Recovery Comedy: Is your family supportive of your comedy career?

Liz Russo: They tolerate me. We try not to discuss that I’m a comic, or that I’m a democrat.

Recovery Comedy: Is comedy part of your healing process?

Liz Russo: Yes, it always has been a cathartic way for me to express myself artistically, way before I was in recovery. I think that now recovery has made that process much stronger. The same way secrets keep us sick, sharing my experiences publicly is permission for me to forgive myself and let go of the shame. Each comedy show I do, I feel lighter, my purpose becomes more resilient, and I can see God’s will more clearly. And I know if I can be brave enough to get my experiences out there, that I’m helping others get through their own darkness, one laugh at a time.

Recovery Comedy: What was your worst experience performing comedy?

Liz Russo: I’ve had a few doozies. Ironically, my first “hell gig” was in a small Philadelphia café, which was a food truck that fit ten people max. Everyone seemed miserable. I said, “I would be way funnier if you guys were drinking!” I found out later that no one told me it was actually an AA meeting. I left the show with the mic cord between my legs and I couldn’t get the smell of the fryer out of my hair for a week!

Recovery Comedy: What was your best experience performing comedy?

Liz Russo: Recently, I performed for a nudist camp. The crowd was about 100 naked people, fully exposed. I made lots of eye contact. Let me say, a guy bent over and showed me his ass cheeks, a lady showed me her tan lines lifting up her boobs, everyone jiggling with laughter in the summer heat. Best audience I ever had. Doing this show really revealed my personal growth through recovery. Many I spoke with thought it was too weird or depraved to perform for a bunch of nudists. They are just people without clothes on. What’s the big deal? I’m not ‘judgey’. Nicest people I ever met. They taught me when we are all naked we have nothing to hide, nothing to fake, nothing to really criticize. It was pretty amazing.

Oh! And this one time I opened for Dave Chappelle and he told me I was funny. That was awesome also.

Recovery Comedy: What is your favorite joke?

Liz Russo: I am a cheeseball fan of puns and Laffy Taffy.

Q: What kind of bees make milk?        

A: Boobies!

Recovery Comedy: What is your comedy dream?

Liz Russo: Mostly, I have dreams of having sexual relations with sexy funny recovery comedian Russell Brand. But, aside from my fantasies, I have the dream of having a sitcom, a talk show, and being a member of Saturday Night Live. Not sure which is most likely to come true... I have been tweeting Russell quite a bit now that Katy is out of the way...

To find out more information about Liz Russo or to book her for your next 12 Step Event just click here!

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