Amy Miller is an old friend of Spinning Platters. She’s also the funniest person in Portland, OR, and was on the final season of Last Comic Standing. She was one of the earliest fans of the site and, despite her continued fame, she still managed to squeeze out some time to talk to us.
She’s going to be headlining at Punchline in SF this Wednesday, January 27th. Tickets are available here!
You were recently cast on Last Comic Standing, and it was in a state of limbo for quite a while before it made it to air. What was it like waiting to find out if this was going to happen?
Basically, we all get hired by this lovely producer named Carla. She was the one that made all of the phone calls telling us we they wanted us to be on Last Comic Standing. Then, I can’t quite remember the time line. It may have been a few weeks or a month, she had to tell us the bad news about the show. The funny part of that was when she first called me to tell me I got in, she was a real jokester about it. She asked me how I thought I did, and I told her that I felt good about it. Wanda (Sykes) was laughing. She responded with, “Well, um, that’s really interesting…. BECAUSE YOU GOT IN!!!” But when she called a month later to tell us it got canceled, she had that same somber tone. So I thought she was kidding, but then she told me that she wished she was, and that she was also out of a job, the network decided to cancel the show and we’d love to work with you on some other project. And then she called me again to tell me that the show is back on! I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” And she was laughing because she was going to have to go through the same process with 100 other people.
Instead of canceling, they decided to rework it instead. I don’t know whether or not everyone that got in the first time stayed in. I just know I was one of the lucky ones.
It seems like it ran super fast… Didn’t feel like the typical reality competition where they beat every contestant to a pulp on camera.
Yeah… The whole thing was really quick. The filming was really quick. And, you know, it was a summer show. It went from 100 to 40 to 5 people.
I remember Norm McDonald being really unhappy with you at first, then seemed to flip opinions fast the next time you were on. Was there anything behind the scenes happening there? Did you ever get to talk it through with him? Or does he just change his mind that fast?
Well, no. We weren’t allowed to interact with the judges. He just had a position on that show that he had to fulfill. And I had to remind people that it was reality television. I don’t think my brand of comedy would ever be his cup of tea, and he has a very specific number of comedians that he likes, so it’s OK. I know that he likes me as a person. I thought the whole thing was hilarious. After he said that, they cut out the fact that I was laughing a lot. I had to remind myself that I was on reality TV, and it’s hilarious to me. He had a major criticism, and I had no way of knowing if it was planned ahead of time, and I thought it was completely ridiculous. It may be because I watch so much reality TV and see people coming out of those interactions sobbing, thinking their career was over. I thought that it helped me because it gave me a little more exposure.
Roseanne seemed to really like you. Have you interacted with her since this show?
Not outside of Twitter. I had one interaction backstage when her assistant came up to me and told me that Roseanne can’t stop talking about me and loves me so much, and somebody else pulled her away from me, telling her that she can’t tell me this stuff. But, no, I haven’t had any real life interactions with her. But I hope to!
You were a pretty well established comic here in the Bay Area, and then you moved to Portland, and the next thing I knew, you were the funniest person in Portland. How did that happen? How did you get through that scene so fast?
I think part of it was timing, part of it was strategy, and part of it is who I am. I was really new at comedy. In fact, I’m still pretty new at comedy. I was new in an unfamiliar scene, with only two years of experience under my belt, which was enough to show them that I had a little bit of material. But, also, I knew a couple of guys that had become successful that had left, and there were more close to leaving. So, it was mostly timing. It was a small scene that was just starting to be known on the comedy map. It is also the comedy culture here. A lot of the comics are pretty lazy, so if you have a little drive and aggression, you can get quite a lot done.
Now that Run Funches has broken out of that scene, do you see more people “trying?”
I think him and Matt Braunger and Ian Karmel all coming out of the scene, those three guys gave people something to work for — kind of like a senior class. It kind of pushed people, letting them know what was possible, especially considering how fast Ron blew up. It kind of helps to have that massive success on your team. For the right people, it motivated them, but the lazy people will stay lazy.
A lot of great comics seem to be fleeing San Francisco, either to go to LA or elsewhere. Why do you think this is?
That’s partially why I moved to Portland, because I could see that happening. There’s this weird scene where people leave really early, because LA is so close, so there’s never anyone in your scene that’s both great and successful. And, so, it’s hard really have a goal to work towards. So, now a lot of people are going to a middle town before going to LA. There are many clubs and many gigs in the Bay Area, but people feel compelled to move to LA before they are ready.
Would you ever consider moving to LA?
Well, I am moving there in the spring. With no connections, so I’m kind of doing what I just told people they shouldn’t, although I do have the TV show under my wing. It’s still scary…