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Comedian Dena Blizzard Finds the Funny in Life
http://www.countywomanmagazines.com/articles/471/1/Comedian-Dena-Blizzard-Finds-the-Funny-in-Life/Page1.html
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By Website Manager
Published on February 28, 2013
 
She has been featured in The New York Times and has performed in clubs throughout the country, from Gotham Comedy Club in New York to The Comedy Stop in Las Vegas. She has also performed at the New York Friars Club, Catch a Rising Star, and the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. She can also add the United Nations to her list of credits, where she performed in 2008 with the Comedy Cures Foundation.   Dena also produces and stars in her own one-woman show “One Funny Mother: I’m Not Crazy!!” that incorporates her stories and antics into a multi-media stage show that’s touring nationally.

She has been featured in The New York Times and has performed in clubs throughout the country, from Gotham Comedy Club in New York to The Comedy Stop in Las Vegas. She has also performed at the New York Friars Club, Catch a Rising Star, and the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. She can also add the United Nations to her list of credits, where she performed in 2008 with the Comedy Cures Foundation.   Dena also produces and stars in her own one-woman show “One Funny Mother: I’m Not Crazy!!” that incorporates her stories and antics into a multi-media stage show that’s touring nationally.

Her comedy has landed her on both sides of the small screen as well. She co-hosted PBS’ “Real Simple TV,” a lifestyle show based on Real Simple Magazine.  She had the great privilege of being the audience warm-up comedian for both Emeril Lagasse’s “Emeril Live” and Paula Deen’s “Paula’s Party” on the Food Network. Beginning in the summer of 2010, Dena was an on-air correspondent and audience warm-up for both “The Nate Berkus Show,” a syndicated talk show produced by Oprah’s Harpo Productions, and the Anderson Cooper syndicated series, “Anderson Live.”  In addition she hosted TNT’s Red Carpet Arrival Show and the live studio audience finale of “The Apprentice” on NBC. 

Dena’s star is rising as a comedian, as well as a writer. This past summer she launched her web series, “One Funny Mother” on her website www.onefunnymother.com where she writes, produces and stars in videos about parenting. Her writings, which are a hilarious spin on motherhood, have been picked up by national publications and Yahoo Shine. Recently, Dena hosted the preliminary competitions of the 2013 Miss America Pageant and served as a correspondent on its live ABC Broadcast.Although her schedule is very busy,

Dena took time out to talk with Camden County Woman about her comedy career, motherhood and more.

CCW: I understand your husband has been very supportive of your comedy career.

DB: [Laughs] Is that a joke??? In the beginning, he would hide it from people. He would pretend it wasn’t happening. For a few years I was doing something on the radio. Someone went to his work and said, “Hey, Jim, I didn’t know your wife did stand-up!” My husband said, “No. She doesn’t do stand-up.” The person said, “Dena Blizzard...she was on the radio. She’s really funny!” My husband said, “No. That’s not my wife.” The person said, “Really, she was talking about her husband...Jim Blizzard.”

My husband would get very upset early on if people didn’t think I was funny or if they wouldn’t say anything...so I think it was just his defense mechanism to pretend that it wasn’t happening. Now he’s great.
I think he thought I would grow out of it. I have a master’s degree from St. Joseph’s University. We were still paying my student loans for that when I decided to take a $200 comedy class. My husband said, “So we’re paying your student loan every month but it’s the $200 comedy class you need to pursue a career.” I was like, “Yes! It’s going to be great!” I could understand his reluctance.

CCW: How did you become interested in stand-up?

DB:  I actually found out I was funny the year that I was Miss New Jersey. I would give speeches, and found that people would laugh. It took about seven years and one baby to get the guts to do it [stand-up]. I’d always thought about it.

It took having a baby to really convince me. I had my son and I was at the Deptford Mall in JC Penney when he started having a breakdown. I was this young mom. I bribed him. I begged him. I didn’t know what to do. So I hid from him in the china department. I was hiding behind the Lenox dishes so I could see him but he couldn’t see me because I was pretty sure if he couldn’t see me he would stop crying. I remember thinking to myself, “I know they can see me on the camera...someone is watching me hide from my child behind the dishes!” I remember thinking this is the most embarrassed I’d ever felt in my whole life. I thought to myself... stand-up can’t be this bad. I remember having that moment. I remember thinking that I could do better than what I’m currently doing which is hiding in the china dept.

My son stopped crying. The fit was over and now he just looked like a lost kid. People were passing him and asking him where his mom is. I couldn’t just pop up from behind the dishes. So I ran through the linen dept. like I was looking for him, yelling, “Oh my gosh... there you are! Thank you so much!”

Shortly after that my husband signed me up for a comedy class at the Comedy Cabaret in northeast Philly. There were about 30 people in the class. I was one of four women. I really didn’t know until that moment that women were a minority in comedy. I took the class, which ran about 8 or 12 weeks. At the end there was a graduation show. From that, the owner chose a couple of people to start working at the club doing guest spots, and I was one of the people chosen.

There used to be a comedy club in Runnemede that I worked at. Every once in a while I run into people who remember me from that room. They remember my jokes and tell me the jokes. I’m born and raised in Camden County so it’s nice to go to places and see where it all started.

CCW: Are women still a minority in comedy?

DB:
The numbers are very soft. We’re small but mighty. There are some great female comics. I’m a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres. I think she’s fabulous. It’s nice to be a voice for women. You always hear guys complaining about how crazy their wives are. I don’t disagree...I know I’m a nut. But it’s nice to hear the other side.

CCW: In your routine “One Funny Mother” you focus on the craziness that women and mothers feel every day. What one piece of advice do you have for women?

DB:
Find the funny in it! Some of the funniest stuff that I talk about in my show are things that were so not funny when they were happening. They were the moments when I wanted to pull my hair out or run away from my children. I would lock myself out of my house just to get away from them.

I always say if you have a good group of friends who are willing to tell you about the times when they completely lost it, it makes you feel better about yourself. Nobody wants to hang out with people who always have it together and are not wolfing down cheeseburgers in an ACME parking lot because they’re having a breakdown. Nobody wants to hang out with somebody who doesn’t do that!

I marvel at my husband and me. Marriage is one of the hardest things in the world. Raising a family and not wanting to run away from them is one of the hardest things in the world.

Find out why it’s funny. It may be a couple of years after it’s happened. It may not be funny until then. Find the funny in it. That’s been my best advice to myself.

CCW: You’re a mother of three. You’re working. Your day starts at 4 am. You’re commuting to New York. How do you juggle it all?

DB:  Anderson has just been reduced to three days a week so that’s been really helpful. In terms of juggling it all...I’m a big proponent of “it taking a village.” I’m very blessed. I live in South Jersey and my family’s here. I live about two blocks from my parents. My husband and I have a great network of friends and family who have been really supportive. I don’t go out a lot. I’m home with my kids or going to a game or recital. I really enjoy my work but when I come home from New York I want to make a nice stew and sit down and cuddle with my kids.New York is such a different lifestyle. It’s nice to be able to come back here and go to the park or the pool. It’s just a nice normal life. I feel very blessed to be able to do something that I really love and then come home and spend time with my family.

CCW: You’re a former Miss New Jersey. You recently hosted one of the preliminary events for Miss America 2013 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. How has the pageant changed since you were a contestant?

DB: This was probably the first year that I went back and realized that I could now be the mom of these girls. That was a big blow!

I don’t really notice that many differences. I actually find that there are a lot of things that have stayed tried and true. I look back at what I was able to do at age 22, in terms of speaking and being in front of people, being able to articulate my thoughts... that still really holds true for the pageant.

I had done all three nights of preliminaries with the girls. So at some point I had a chance to speak with each one of them. I would look at them and think, they’re between the ages of 17 and 24... they look so young but they’re able to handle themselves so well. You realize that for all of these women this is the biggest thing that has happened to them to date. The interview alone is such great groundwork for jobs. Being able to present yourself. It’s such great training. Those are the parts of the pageant I really love.

This year was the first time that I was able to go to the Miss America press conference. Listening to Mallory Hytes Hagan speak minutes after she won; it was so impressive. I wish people could see that. Here is a girl who literally an hour ago has had this life changing experience and she was so poised and really focused on her message. In terms of things that have changed...the bathing suits...the bathing suits are much smaller!

CCW: Of all your accomplishments, personal and/or professional, what are you most proud of?

DB: It’s so crazy...this is my dumb answer... the other day I made homemade pizza dough and to me that was like the day I made a baby! I was like, “Oh my God... I made a baby and I made pizza dough!” I had never made pizza dough in my life and I had the same feeling of accomplishment as when I made a baby come out of my uterus! I was really very excited!

There are so many different moments. I give the same credence and the same value to when I was I able to do stand-up at the United Nations...which was one of the coolest things I’d ever done... and to the night that I killed at an open mic for the first time and made a room full of guys, who could care less what I was saying, stop what they were doing and really laugh. So when I look at the course of the last 11 years, I value those small accomplishments as much as the big ones. Because without those small accomplishments, I would have never gotten there. Being part of the Miss America telecast this year was huge for me. Being able to work with Anderson Cooper, who is one of the most lovely people I know, is a great gift for me every day.

CCW: I heard that you recently shot your own pilot for late night. Tell us about that.

DB:
Last summer. That was another big moment. That was the culmination of working 10 years in comedy. Such a great experience, being able to work with different networks. I’m never quite sure where my path will lead. So I take all of these experiences and know that they build upon each other to something fabulous. I have a lot of faith in God that I am going to end up where I am supposed to be. I’m just enjoying the journey. Anderson will be finishing in March and then we will see what’s next for me.

It’s an exciting time and the best part is being able to share it with my kids. My husband has a very 9 to 5 job and he’s very logical. Everything I do is very, “You should do this and unicorns are real!” So I think it’s great that they are able to grow up and see both sides. I try to take advantage of that and encourage them to be creative. They all play an instrument. They’re not afraid to speak in front of people. It’s a nice journey to take with the three of them. It’s quite enjoyable. Very crazy, but very enjoyable.

CCW: Do you have a favorite motto or quote ~ something that you believe in, strive for?

DB: My favorite is actually a prayer. It's The Serenity Prayer. Especially in my business. Being able to accept the things I cannot change. I'm not a guy. I'm not gross and disgusting in my standup. I am who I am. And having wisdom to know the difference. When you're doing stand-up and you're on the stage you have to know when you're connecting with people and when you're not. You have a split second to figure that out. So much of what I do just really relies on my gut. That's what makes stand-up so wonderful... it's so live and in the moment. 

Dena Blizzard can be seen in New York City as the warm-up for Anderson Cooper on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.  She can also be seen performing at various regional venues and fundraisers, and heard as a guest host on New Jersey 101.5.

As seen in Camden County Woman