Erin Foley, a lesbian comedian with her comedy roots in New York City, has spent the last few years in Los Angeles building a strong and respectable following. In addition to a rising acting career and various appearances on popular comedy shows, including Comedy Central Presents, Foley talks with The Advocate about LGBT discrimination and how she uses comedy as a tool to fight homophobia and various other social ills.
The Advocate: Do you use comedy as an outlet for dealing with your sexual orientation?
Erin Foley: I use, have used and will continue to use comedy as an outlet for every issue, every minute of the day. Dealing with sexual orientation? Yes. Dealing with Republicans? Yes. Dealing with my size 11 feet? Yes. Dealing with my inability to sustain a long-term relationship? Yes. Dealing with my random obsession with The Bachelorette? Yes. Everything? Yes.
A majority of your stand-up is based on personal experiences. Are there any topics that you are not comfortable with talking about onstage?
I’m not comfortable talking about nude nylons, the Red Sox, cankles, nail polish, frisée, shoes that feel like a sneaker, fruit bats, and red tide.
From a social standpoint, do you believe that gay men are judged more harshly than lesbians?
Yes, I do. Although I also that believe that super-butch lesbians are harshly judged as well. Every individual should be celebrated for who they are and not placed in some box of conformity. Unfortunately, earthlings cling to this stereotypical notion of what defines a man and what defines a woman. Sexuality is not black and white; it morphs, it’s blurry, it’s nebulous. How fun is that! Some men like to carry purses. I want to be a wide receiver for the New York Giants. This should be embraced.
You joined hundreds of other celebrities in posing for the No H8 campaign, a silent protest over the passage of Proposition 8 in California. What was a major element that drew you to this particular LGBT campaign?
I thought the photographs by Adam Bouskas were stunning, powerful, different, bold, and beautiful — keep inserting fantastic adjectives here. It was a very classy, artistic protest that captured the essence of the movement. The hatred you feel coming from the Right can be crippling at times, so the premise is “no on hate.” Simple as that. Did you just call me a celebrity? Hold on, I need to call my mom.
Is it true that you turned down an offer to be on The Real L World: Los Angeles?
There was no actual formal offer to be on The Real L Word. I was approached early on and ultimately decided it wasn’t for me. I’m a very private person, which makes for horrible reality television. Of course, I watch it. It’s in my contract as a lesbian. Plus, it’s fun to scream at the TV: NO! NO! OMG! Is this happening? Holy shit!
You spent close to a decade living in New York City. What is the biggest difference between LGBT life in New York and Los Angeles?
Thankfully, both New York and Los Angeles have fantastic LGBT communities. The biggest difference is that there are more lesbian bars in New York; definitely more lipstick lesbians in L.A. In regard to Chelsea versus West Hollywood: I moved out of West Hollywood because I didn’t want to iron my clothes before getting a coffee. That’s why I loved living in Chelsea. I could have walked to the store nude and nobody would have noticed.
You had a memorable role in the very successful movie Almost Famous. What inspired you to take a more serious part in a serious movie?
I auditioned and they said yes.
You recently filmed a few pilots for E! Entertainment Television. How was that experience?
I shot two pilots with E! last year, but they didn’t air. Both were in the style of Weekend Update. They were lots of fun to shoot, but not so much fun when they weren’t picked up. Ah, gin and tonics.
You performed in an improv group in college. Was this your first exposure to comedy?
It was definitely my first step into the world of comedy — specifically, performing. My first exposure to comedy was my parents. They’re very funny and we laughed all the time growing up. My dad and I would watch Abbott and Costello every Sunday morning. Those are some precious memories.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on 10 small projects that could lead to a big project. Or they could remain really fun small projects. Either way, I love projects. I just worked with Drew Barrymore’s film company, Flower Films. We shot a video called Asshole Ghost, which will be out soon. I’m working with Funny or Die, writing a sitcom — because nobody else is — touring with my stand-up, brushing my hair, and writing long, handwritten letters to Margaret Atwood, Hermione Granger, and Abby Wambach.