As a former runway model, Valerie Jean Garduno was used to shedding her clothes between turns on the catwalk. Now she's shedding her inhibitions—and her act has never been funnier. Here, she talks to us about using her newest best asset, her brain.
Q: You were just 17 when you moved to Paris, modeling in the shows of some of the biggest fashion labels: Dior, Valentino, Calvin Klein. From there you traveled to Milan, New York and other glamorous fashion capitals. Comedy offers some decidedly less alluring venues. Do models and comedians have anything in common?
A: They both spend a lot of time alone, living out of suitcases and holding the attention of inebriated men.
Q: Does being attractive work for you or against you in the world of comedy?
A: Being attractive doesn't hurt. Maybe I get some attitude or sometimes I'm not taken seriously, but I always get a free drink!
Q: Getting up on stage to do stand-up for the first time is a sheer act of bravery. Lots of comedians cringe at that memory. What do you know now that you wish you could have told yourself then?
A: The first time I did stand-up I had an out of body experience; I didn't remember a thing. I wish I could have told myself to stay in my body a little bit longer.
Q: What are the best and worst aspects about doing stand-up?
A: The worst thing is the pain I feel when a joke bombs. The best thing by far is the kismet with the audience when you're on that ride together and the whole room is laughing. There's nothing like it!
Q: How do you come up with material?
A: Material is there everyday, you just have to make the effort to find it and present it in a funny way even though it comes from the places that hurt.
Q: Do you worry about revealing too much of yourself in your act?
A: I don't really worry about revealing too much. Sometimes I'll try a joke and feel so naked that I'll never try the joke again. But being able to express it at least once opens the doors to more possibilities.
Q: What do you do when the audience isn't going along for the ride? When a heckler is ruining your groove?
A: I've really only had one heckler who got to me. He shouted out a sexual reference within the first minute I got on the stage. Honestly, I somewhat froze. But when I got home, I wrote 10 different comebacks so now I'm ready with plenty of ammunition. Bring it on!
Q: How do you deal with creepy groupies?
Q: What's the quickest way to build a fan base? How are you getting people out to see a performance?
A: I use Facebook to post fliers for shows and blast out shows I'll be performing at. It's the best tool in the world for comedians!
Q: Tell me a joke you've heard somewhere that you'd like to steal.
A: I saw a comedian do a very physical act out and he was so hilarious. It was about a drunken girl downloading music. I thought to myself, I wish I wrote that, I would have had such a blast performing that bit!!! Why didn't I think of that!
Our favorite Valerie Jean Garduno joke: "Once, when I was on a photo shoot in Africa, a starving Ethiopian woman offered me a piece of bread. I was like, 'thank you, but I'm on a no carb diet.'"