Interview With Comedian Lisa Linke | Seriously Funny
Isn’t life suppose to be fun?! We say, yes, absolutely!
Actor, writer, and improviser Lisa Linke knows that very well and does it constantly. She says, “Making a room of people laugh is a better drug than anything else for me.” Just think, how serious we get sometimes with everything in life focusing on things that seem to not work the way we want. Imagine to re-focus all this energy on finding the best feeling emotion and trust that all is well and have faith that things are always working out for us. When we feel good, we see the world from that perspective. When we feel good, we are ready to uplift others. When we feel good, we can only give good.
So, let’s get seriously funny and laugh, enjoy and have more fun.
- Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is Lisa Linke?
Hello! I’m an actor, writer and improviser living in Los Angeles. I was born and raised in the Midwest but have traveled across the world. My friends call me the Bastion of Justice because I will right any civil wrong out in the world (think people boarding ahead of their group number) and I live with two rescued mutts. Oh, man… am I a terrible hype man?
- How did you discover your passion and love for comedy?
My Grammy (who turns 107 in June) has always told me jokes and made me laugh. When I visited her, she would let me watch Carol Burnett reruns and I just always loved making people laugh. Making a room of people laugh is a better drug than anything else for me. I did a couple plays in grade school and middle school and when I got an entire audience to laugh? I was hooked. I didn’t realize it then, but I can trace it back now.
- How do you think the vast international exposure that different online channels such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime have affected the entertainment industry and in particular – you?
Well, I love having more platforms for content. It really allows for unique storytellers and stories to get out there – which is great. This, in turn, I think allows for greater diversity not only in story creation but in the representation of characters that people actually see on screen. What seemed risky – creating tons of content that isn’t typically like network or premium cable – is actually very reasonable. We consume all kinds of content in lots of places now: not just on our TV. So, it is great to have lots of choices. Ultimately for me, as an actor and writer, that just means more opportunity. As a consumer of the content, it can make it a bit more difficult to find really good content that resonates with me – just because there is so much more out there to sort through.
- Having a strong background in improvisation and sketch comedy, how would you describe that exhilarating moment when you are inspired, and funny words just naturally flow?
What a great feeling! When you are in that space and you seem to have no obstacles, and everything coming out of your mouth or fingers as you write is gold. I think having done improv and sketch and taught improv and comedy writing for so long, I have a different connection with that state of being, in that you really have to develop that muscle. It’s hard to write and it’s hard to create, day in and day out. The expectation that everything you create is going to be good – that’s flawed. You’ll rewrite or edit or toss out or reshape something you create into something better – but in order to have something to edit, you have to get something down on paper in the first place. So, I have worked on separating out the creation from editing. If we do both at the same time (I call it “cre-editing”), then we hate everything that we come up with and it is very stilted. Likewise, if we have the expectation that we’re going to pour gold out when we create, that’s a tall order. So, instead, I just like to get something out. Get a rough draft. Get something that I can then go back and work with.
As for improvising – that’s different as well because the expectations are different. When you’re creating comedy on the spot in front of an audience, everyone knows that every word can’t be gold, and mostly what they are watching is the act of people spontaneously creating things together. That’s the fun, and the comedy is a wonderful bonus on top of that. If you go in trying to be funny, you will fall flat on your face. Most great improv is found through really focusing on the other person and listening intently. Improv is the art form of focusing on the other. And so, when you do that, really great things can happen because you stop thinking about yourself.
So… I guess my short answer is the exhilarating moment happens when you’ve trained and exercised enough to get out of your own way and let go… and if the audience responds, it’s like a great drug. A really, really great drug.
If I get spiritual about it when the stars align: when I’m connected and listening and creating without editing and putting the focus on the other person, and when I’m with people who are also doing the exact same thing, and everyone gives up control of the outcome… it feels like I’m connected to something bigger than myself. That’s pretty awesome.
- You studied at Second City and performed at The Annoyance in Chicago. Being on stage must be quite different from being on set. What have you learned from both, and how have they enhanced your creativity?
You’re right! Stage time (and hours upon hours of watching TV growing up) gave me a wonderful sense of timing. That’s something when you’re playing to a room, no matter the size, that you have to have. Being on set requires a different set of skills but also is way more collaborative than any improv I’ve ever done. Each person has to do their job to their best to make the final product happen in film & TV. And when one person is not doing their best, it’s noticeable somewhere, either on set or in the final product. It’s fascinating. Being on stage with a group of people (especially improv) makes you realize when to fill the need. Being on set with a group of people makes you realize that you have one job to do, and it’s best if you stay in your lane and do it.
- You also have appeared on TV shows such as “Black-ish,” “Shameless,” “This Is Us” and “Modern Family.” What was your most unforgettable – funniest moment during one of these experiences?
They were all amazing experiences – but Chris Martin from Coldplay was in the scene I was shooting for Modern Family. It was a unique day on set – they were on location, the crew was jazzed about him being there, and he played his guitar for everyone in between takes. He’s funny and so kind! Everyone was laughing a lot that day. It was an awesome day on set.
- Now, you can be seen on YouTube and Amazon Prime shining as Kimberly Hawkes in a comedic web series “Successful People” about a songwriting duo struggling to make it big surrounded by a world full of successful people. “Some people don’t succeed in thriving times and some people thrive in difficult times.” In that sense, what do you think is the formula for success?
Thank you! Kimberly Hawkes is the most annoying person alive, and I love portraying her!
There are people much more successful than I am, so I don’t know that I have a rock-solid formula for success, but (!) I do know that in Hollywood, you only need two of these three to be successful: Luck, Persistence, or Talent. I’m persistent as a dog on a bone, and I know I’ve got talent, so I’ll be here for the long haul. If a little luck shines my way and helps me get along the road faster, I’ll take it!
- “Successful People” is not the only web series you participate. You also have co-created, wrote, produced, and starred in the several other web series such as “Rick & Len Fix Sh!t In Your House” and “Dog Moms” – which have been honored with several awards. Do you think the web series is a fun way to showcase and expand your talents while getting ready for a bigger platform? If so, why?
YASSSS! Thank you for mentioning these series! Rick & Len was my first full production from start to finish, and I loved co-creating that series. It was a great introduction into all facets of production: set design, line producing, craft services, casting, editing, scouting locations, script creation and editing, promotion and festival circuits… It was a wonderful experience. Plus, to do it with friends was truly wonderful! DOG MOMS was after I arrived in LA and was easier to do in some respects, having already created a series before, it was improvised, etc. But more challenging in others: five dogs on set at a time, creating episodes after shooting, finding crew to work with that I didn’t know, etc.
I think shooting shorts and series is a phenomenal way to keep working on your craft while you’re waiting to be cast in something else. Every production is similar in most respects: the scale is what’s different. But once you’ve shot a short from start to end, or a series from beginning to end, you understand the basic concepts of what will have to happen on a larger set. It will just be… larger. I need a hype man for my descriptions.
- You can currently be seen in the highly-anticipated Netflix series LOVE on their final Season 3, created by Paul Rust, Lesly Arfin and Judd Apatow. What can you tell us about your character and what have you discovered about ‘love’ while being part of this project?
My character is Cousin Lisa, and she’s Gus’ cousin from the Midwest… a real stretch for me. Ha! It was a real exciting job to book and I was so happy to be on set and work with everyone that week! Hmmm. What I discovered about love that week was that air-conditioned tents were a godsend. It was almost 100 degrees that week in June and we were so hot outside. Having crew that set up cooling tents was so cool. I didn’t know that was a thing!
- There is another exciting project with Disney that you guest-starred in. What can you highlight about your fun role on it?
Yes – it should come out some time this summer. I can’t say much about it, but it was a real introduction to kid’s comedy for me that week. I loved working with the director, and I got to be covered in food and also completely dunked in water in the same episode. I loved every second of it!
- How can we use social media as a global platform for the benefit of each other?
I love the nature of social media – it really takes the control of information from the top down, and inverts it to the bottom up. Everyone with a smartphone and access to the internet can make their voice heard on different platforms. Likewise, it has the same cost as any technology: it can also do harm. So, I am a huge fan and proponent of movements that have arisen from social media.
- What time and where we can find you every #SuggestionSunday?
Yay! You can find me every Sunday on Instagram Live (@itslinke) at 12:30 pacific/3:30 eastern for a one-of-a-kind improv show that you don’t have to pay for, or stay for! You can come and go as you please, give suggestions, play along if you like and hop off whenever you need to. I even have guests perform with me if you’re into that sort of thing! It’s super fun and a great way to see or do improv from your couch.
- Who or what character makes you laugh so much that you can’t stop and happy tears appear on your face?
Watching Kevin Hart and Ice Cube with Conan will never not be funny to me. Never.
- What is the funniest and craziest thing you have ever done so far (I am sure there are many)?
- Nights in college are flashing in front of my eyes. But! I’ll say getting my MBA only to turn around and quit my consulting job to become a full-time improviser was absolutely crazy. But I’m so happy I did it!
- Are you involved in any charity or humanitarian organization you want to mention? If so, which one?
I like to volunteer my time and energy with Downtown Dog Rescue here in Los Angeles – they have a different rescue model and have made some cool strides in keeping pets in their original homes.
- The spirit of The Hedonist Magazine is “The Essence of a Joyful Living.” In your opinion, how does Joy during the process of creation affect your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?
This is deep! If you aren’t feeling joy while creating, you probably aren’t going to like the finished product. Anyone knows that the minute you start getting paid to do the work you love, it feels different than when you are doing it for free on the side. So, if you can cultivate a group of people that you enjoy working with, who are respectful of you and the creative process of others, who are kind humans and you want to support as well as them supporting you – then I feel that’s a breeding ground for joy, and for work that is much better as the final product. Dragging my feet to work never makes for a good product.
- Our motto is “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words by Abraham Hicks. What is your take on such a statement?
Ooh, I really love that! My take is that if you’re willing to put in the energy, time and sacrifice for what you want, you’ll get there. We really do create our own worlds, and it starts with how we think about ourselves.