It could have been written in the stars. But it was probably just something passed through the genes, said Sarah Colonna, great-niece of the pop-eyed comedian Jerry Colonna, best known for his work in several movies and shows with Bob Hope.
“I grew up in Arkansas and he was living in California, so I never met him personally although my sister did. But I do think that comedy may be something in my genes, something I just can’t escape,” said Colonna, 37, currently a writer and roundtable regular on the late-night talk show Chelsea Lately, and also a producer and star on E!’s After Lately. She’ll join three other comedians/panelists from Chelsea Lately on stage at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside on Oct. 7.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Chelsea Lately is a late-night comedy talk show produced by comedian Chelsea Handler. And After Lately is a reality show that purports to show behind-the-scenes goings-on at Chelsea Lately.
“I think women like Chelsea and Ellen and Lucy were all ground-breakers who helped open the field for other women,” Colonna said. “And I think the reason Chelsea and her show have been around for the past four seasons is because Chelsea is fearless. She has the ability to say anything and go after everybody, without really offending anybody. She’s a true performer.”
The first inkling that Colonna herself might be a true performer and seriously interested in acting and comedy was when she was about 6 years old and did some scenes from One Life to Live for her mother in the family home.
“After I graduated from the University of Arkansas, I realized I had to be in California to make some of my dreams come true,” Colonna said. “It took me quite a while to ‘make it,’ and with so many people out here wanting to be an actor, I was always glad that I could do stand-up too. because I think it’s the one thing that got me furthest and helped me stand out in the crowd.”
Probably so. Her first televised appearance was doing stand-up on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend in 2006. She was one of five finalists in TBS and Myspace’s Stand Up or Sit Down Comedy Challenge. She also appeared on BBC’s The World Stands Up, taped in London and featuring popular comedians from around the world. Later that year, she was a semifinalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing.
Colonna also has appeared as a co-star on various television shows, including The United States of Tara, Monk, Strong Medicine, Invasion, and Days of Our Lives. She was also a regular on the hit hidden-camera SciFi show Scare Tactics.
“It took me twelve years of bartending and waitressing to ‘make it,’” Colonna acknowledged. “But now that I’m here and working hard at my craft, I think the best thing about what I do is making people laugh. It feels so good to be able to do that. It may sound a bit self-indulgent, but there’s nothing better, especially when people come up to me after a show and tell me how much I took their mind off their troubles and made them laugh.”
She’s also written a book she’s titled Life As I Blow It, “featuring stories about my growing-up years, moving out to Los Angeles, relationships and stumbling like most of us do. There’s a chance NBC will pick it up as a sitcom, and I really hope it hits the air, but nobody ever knows for sure.” ••
For times and ticket information, call 215-572-7650.