The One-Woman Show
BY Jeffrey Hartinger
July 26 2011 2:10 PM ET
Michele Balan, a lesbian comedian who was a finalist on Last Comic Standing, has appeared on shows such as the The Joy Behar Show and Logo Wisecracks in addition to performing throughout the country. She talks with The Advocate about straying away from the 9-to-5 grind and pursuing a career as a comedian.
The Advocate: You left a cushy executive position in New York City for a career in comedy. How did that come about?
Michele Balan: Yes, what was I thinking? People had always told me I was funny and should be a comedian. So I had a moment of confidence — which doesn't happen much for a Jewish girl — and left my job. At the time, it was a good idea, but as I get closer to pension age, I think maybe I should have stuck it out. But in all honesty, I do not regret making the change, even with the lack of security, pension, and health care. At least I don't have to wake up every morning and be somewhere at 9 o'clock a.m. Which, by the way, I never was on time once through that whole career.
Did you consider corporate environments oppressing to those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community?
It was very different in those days. I speak as if it was 1902, but it was in the '70s and '80s, and it was a lot more oppressive than today. I would always be asked when I was going to get married, why I wasn't dating, etc. I was dating, but it was a woman and I would always refer to her as "they" or "them;" like I was dating a group. I could never mention a gender. I would also use excuses for why I wasn't ready to settle down, such that I needed to focus on my career or because my therapist said I wasn't ready!
When you came out as a lesbian, did you take a humorous approach?
Yes, I used to do a joke: I told my grandmother I was a lesbian ... she said, no you're not ... you're Romanian! On your father's side!