The Collaborative No. 24
Today we are featuring Everyday Visionary Liz Russo who is a Standup Comedienne, Speaker, and Recovery Advocate.
Liz combines sexual innuendo with her confident spin on self-deprecating humor. She draws from her personal experience as a plus size model, her struggles with weight loss, and maintaining a positive body image. She openly discusses sex, being unmarried and childless at 40 years old, and is very candid about her alcoholism recovery.
Inspired by the uncomfortable, the awkward and embarrassing moments, Liz allows herself to be honest and vulnerable on stage. She is comfortable being uncomfortable. Liz claims that she owes everything she is as a comedienne to a heckler. While she was performing one evening, someone yelled out at her, “She’s the fat girl from Wilson Phillips!” She used the hurt from that moment as fuel to empower herself and added it to her standup routine.
There is a quote by Mark Twain, " The secret source of humor itself is not joy, but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven". Besides Mark being a killjoy, he missed the point. Heaven will be full of humor, because it is only then that we all fully embrace the honesty that it takes to make people laugh.
Watch for Liz Russo on "Comics Watching Comics" Season 8 and 9 coming soon! And you can follow her on social media by clicking these links:
- Where do you currently work?
Internationally - Self Employed
- What is your current role?
Standup Comedienne, Speaker, Recovery Advocate
- How would you describe to a child what you do for a living?
I use humor to tell my personal story to entertain and to inspire others
- What do you hope you have a reputation for as a professional?
I want to be known as someone with not only great talent, but a person of integrity. I want people to speak of me with confidence that I am trustworthy, dependable, generous, and gracious.
- What is an accomplishment from your career that meant the world to you?
My greatest accomplishment is every time an audience member comes to me after a performance to share that I helped them in some way. It's not about the biggest audience, the best venue, my face on a highway billboard (though that is VERY cool) - it is about the positive influence I have on others through my art.
- What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve had to learn the hard way in your career?
The best lesson comes from the words of Winston Churchill: Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. - I had a successful career in comedy for six years before alcoholism landed me in jail and rehab. I thought I lost everything. I had to rebuild in my sobriety to have the (even more) successful career I have now. Both my recovery and my comedy career takes persistence and dedication on a daily basis. Whatever it is that you want, you must commit and recommit as many times as necessary. I live truly, one day at a time.
- What are some of your go-to sources of inspiration and staying on top of emerging trends that impact your field or industry?
Oddly enough, my sources for inspiration aren't comedy related. For my brand of humor I must be 100% authentic and honest. I read many autobiographies, self-help books, etc. I watch limited comedy specials because my brand and material must be my own. I do follow certain industry trends on sites like theinterrobang.com, on how to influence a wider audience and get more work. Ultimately in my business you must pave your own way to success.
- What is something you need in your work environment in order to thrive in your role?
I work best when I can be true to myself and supported by those who hire me. Not everyone will like me, not every crowd is meant for my humor. I can accept that. Ego, complacency, conformity, and jealousy are all career killers. In my business you must find a way to continue to progress and have fun. You must surround yourself with those who recognize your talents and don't force you to change to fit somewhere you don't belong.
- What you envision for your customers/clients/stakeholders/ patients/citizens/students, etc.?
What I envision for my audience is that I can communicate effectively my message through humor. I want people to understand that everyone struggles with something in life, and if they can find the humor, they can survive it. I want them to laugh, to be entertained, but I also want them to be challenged to think differently, to heal if necessary, and to be inspired.
- What is one of the biggest challenges you are facing or trying to solve right now?
Because my job depends on people 'liking me', I sometimes struggle when someone doesn't like me. I constantly remind myself that my message can only be received by those who are receptive to hearing it. I must remind myself I will not be everyone's cup of tea, and that's okay. I must trust myself to be authentic and refuse to pander for acceptance.
- When and where do you tend to get your ideas?
Everything in my comedy act is autobiographical. Usually the more tragic, the funnier it becomes through the healing process.
- What are three of your favorite books?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The Gifts of Imperfection
Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster
- What’s one of your favorite non-profits?
- If you could collaborate with any group or individual in the world, who would be your top three picks?
- What would you want to collaborate on with the people/groups you just mentioned?
My one woman comedy show/ one act play, and a Netflix show/standup special featuring stand-ups using their own struggles with addiction in their acts - audience would be all people in recovery
- If you were invited to give a TED Talk (or have given one), what would you speak about?
Embracing your truth and finding humor in life's adversities.
- How do you unwind at the end of a stressful day?
I play with my kitties and give them hugs and kisses. Time with animals always makes my heart happy.
- What do you think your 80-year-old self would tell you right now?
Things don't happen TO you, they happen FOR you. Look for the lesson.
- What do you think your 10-year-old self would be most impressed with about your life right now?
I think my ten year old self would be impressed I have tattoos. She'd be impressed that I got them despite my parents' objections. My 10 year old self is always seeking parental approval, so its pretty bad ass at 40 (with years of therapy) I don't need that (as much) anymore.
- What does your creative process entail when you're doing what you do best?
I should have more of a creative process. I often lack discipline to write. Because I use life as my inspiration, I just try and take risks to leave my comfort zone and experience life to the fullest. I keep my heart and mind open for new and exciting things.
- If there were more hours in the days, what would you do with them?
I really need the time to devote to writing my book. If I could put the world on hold for a few weeks, I would do that.