All comedians must grow in order to become better at telling jokes. It’s just facts. Giulia Rozzi has done just that over the past few years as she honed in on the type of comedy she wants to do. Her latest album, True Love, goes through the relationship motions as she talks about topics like casual sex and getting a divorce. She’s pretty honest and open about her love life and she doesn’t mind if you open up about yours to her. The album is a good listen as Rozzi is fast enough to punctuate her punchlines with even more amusing asides. She’s not a sex comic by any measure; she delves more into the nuances of what it’s like to be with one other person.
Braving the harsh New York winter and traffic due to a collapsed crane, Rozzi was nice enough to have a phone chat with me about relationship comedy, writing for herself, and brainstorming with other comedians.
This is your second album. How long ago did you do the first one?
I did the first one – what are we in, 2016? [laughs] I think it was seven years ago but it didn’t come out, the label didn’t release it for almost a year and a half after it came out. Even though I have this other album and I like it – basically what it was is there was a comedy club called Comics in New York that’s now gone. And they started a label and they offered a bunch of comics the chance to do an album. SO I just said sure. It wasn’t like this album in which I felt “I had this body of work and I’m ready to do an album.” It definitely feels like a first album if that makes any sense. And the fact that it took a year and a half to come out, I hardly promoted it when it did come out because I was like “oh, I forgot about this.”
Has this one been easier for you to put out?
Easier in that the label is wonderful. Harder in that I’m way more – let’s see what’s the word – particular about what I put out and sort of self…I don’t want to say critical. That seems kind of negative. I care a lot more about what I put out whereas with the last one, I was just excited that somebody asked.
Would you say you’ve grown in terms of comedy and as well as your joke telling?
God, I hope so. Definitely. I’m definitely in a different head space and think about comedy and performance. And I’ve definitely just grown tremendously as a person so that can’t not reflect in your work.
You do a lot of relationship based jokes. Have you ever been labeled a relationship comic? Or does that even bother you, that term, “relationship comic?”
Oddly, I was on MSNBC this past year and as my little title they put “comedian/relationship expert” and I have no idea why. But I kind of loved it. It doesn’t bother me. People who know me and hear my stuff know there’s other topics in there and I think my next album – or next hour – that I put together will explore some other stuff. It’s always been a topic that I’ve loved since I was a kid. I think relationships are some of the most…they really don’t make sense if you think about it. It’s just very, very bizarre that two people are able to spend so much time together. And just all the stuff that comes with that. I hope that -- with the sort of title, if I even have that, of “relationship comic” – I’d like that to include also family relationships and friendships. I was a sociology major and it’s just kind of impossible for me to not be obsessed with human relationships.
Are you able to apply you “advice” and jokes to your personal relationships both sexual and platonic?
Definitely. I have a podcast right now that I started with my boyfriend who’s a comedian – Will Miles. We have a podcast called Hopefully We Don’t Break Up where we have other couples come on and we talk about relationships and how weird they are and how to make them work. Last year, I did a solo show for a year called Bad Bride all about getting married when I wasn’t ready to. This has definitely been a theme that’s been running through my repertoire for a while. Because of all that stuff, a lot of peole tend ot open up to me about relationship stuff. I feel like a, I don’t know, little bit of an amateur psychologist wingman. I don’t know what you’d call it. That sounds obnoxious but – [laughs].
Psychologist wingman is the thing I want to go back to college for. Like, really!
[laughs] What an insult to people who actually went for a degree in psychology. It’s like when someone on Twitter puts “comedian” in their bio. I’m like “you’ve never left your house!”
“You’ve only written 140 character jokes. You haven’t gone on stage before.” [laughs]
Yeah. “You have 20 followers.” Anyways!... [laughs]
You’ve taken all of your jokes and expertise with relationships and you’ve written for online like Esquire, Playgirl and Bust but you’ve also written for TV shows like Girl Code. [And you’ve also done punch-ups on Younger and Odd Mom Out]. How has writing for online and TV differed?
Doing punch-ups is different because you’re being given someone else’s script and being asked to give notes and edit and add in jokes. That’s kind of been an interesting new thing to add to my skill set. It’s sort of fun to go in with a fresh pair of eyes. It’s different because I’ve edited a lot of my own scripts and it’s been really fun to try and edit and punch up someone else’s script because you’re a lot less critical – not “critical.” It’s hard to be unbiased about your own work. Girl Code and Silent Library have just been so fun because I’ve been in a writer’s room and it’s a brainstorming room. You’re just bouncing off ideas. I feel like it’s one of the best places that I thrive just because so much of the other stuff I do – sitting in a coffee shop writing a screenplay or sitting in a café writing jokes and obsessively listening to tapes of my jokes – it can get really lonely. So, when you have the opportunity to be in a room with three, four, five other really smart people, you’re just…it’s amazing where your brain can go.
That’s good that you’re able to write well with other people and explore different avenues of jokes off of them. But you’re also trained with UCB and a few other places. Has standup applied to your improv at all?
I think so. I haven’t been on an improv team in a long time and I miss it. It does come into play. Most auditions that you go into – especially for commercials or comedy auditions – [sometimes] they actually request that you know how to do improv. One of my favorite, kind of going along with being in a writer’s room, I love it when I do get to do acting or anything where I’m with a cast. Brooke Van Poppelen and I have a web series called Seeing Other People and we wrote it. Some of that stuff just came out of casting really funny people and riffing a little bit and having fun. There’s just some real gold when you trust the people you’re working with to improvise a play. It’s not always gold but, sometimes, you can find some gold.
You’ve done all types of writing and speaking but I found – and watched – your TED talk. I gotta say that’s pretty cool that you were able to do [it] and it was about something that you seem to be a very good expert on.
Thank you so much! That was, by far, the most nervous I have been in a long time; probably more nervous than any audition or showcase. I was asked to do the TED talk because they wanted me to be the comedic relief of the day but I still wanted to deliver a talk that was effective and clear. I didn’t want to be too jokey about…I didn’t want joke too much about something and minimize someone’s feelings so I, at the start of [it], talk about how I had diarrhea and it wasn’t a joke.
It was also very disgusting and I think I’m the first person to open a TED talk with a diarrhea joke. I was so honored to do it. And I was so terrified. Of course, I could go back and watch it and be like “I could’ve said this and could’ve done this” but I was really happy with how it went considering how frightened I was.
Well you did a good job so don’t try to critique yourself. Before I let you go, I have one more question. I saw your Tumblr “Making A Murderer Hairstyles.” It’s very prompt and in the now. It’s a very immediate reaction to something that’s in pop culture. Do you like doing stuff that’s immediate like that or is it easy you.
I don’t know. Sometimes. That was just one of those things. It was an idea that came to me so I just threw it out there and it got a ridiculous amount of attention and response. It was also temporary. I’ve never had that experience of feeling like a viral hit for a week and then the following week you’re like “so what now?” It’s fun but I don’t know that if I had a job that forced me to create stuff like that every day, if I would be able to do it. Does that make any sense? I don’t think it’s something that I necessarily have a knack for. It’s kind of on a case by case basis. For whatever reason that Netflix series inspired me to make a silly blog. I can’t say that about the [presidential] debates or the Emmys. You know what I mean?