Comedian Loni Love: "Stage Time Is Key"

Comedian Loni Love returns to her "old stomping grounds" this week, visiting the Houston Improv to promote her new book, Love Him or Leave Him, But Don't Get Stuck With The Tab.

The Prairie View A&M University graduate may have a full plate for this coming year, plans that include a new daytime chat show (called The Real) and a movie co-starring Danny Glover and Danny Trejo (a sequel to the 2012 film Badass, called simply Badasses), but Loni Love lives for her stand-up.

Love says that anyone catching her at the Improv will see her in fine form: "That's the benefit of giving a show at the beginning of a new year... [I get to] recap all the events of the old one." Audiences can expect a "fun, pop-culture minded" hour that's sure to deride everything 2013 had to offer: targets that include Miley Cyrus, the "twerking" phenomenon, "Crack Mayor Rob Ford" and, as Love put it, "the whole Kim Kardashian and Kanye West video, where we didn't even know what was going on!" (No doubt Love is referring to the viral Kim-ye music video "Bound 2," which among other things featured the oldest Kardashian motorcycling topless)

Love always stays up-to-date with recent events. "My regime includes waking up every morning at 4 or 5, and surfing the Internet for current trends." And come showtime, she always enjoys the challenge of adding a new piece to her act last-minute. "Saturday nights are prime time, but Thursdays you can try something new."

Like her comedy role models Bill Maher, Whoopi Goldberg and "of course" Richard Pryor, "America's Sister" has her sights set on honing her craft and continuing to be a first-rate touring comic. "I've been touring [solo] for over three years," Love states proudly. "In 2013, I did 40 weeks [away from home]." Still, she says, it's a challenge. "It's really hard to be away from your house, from your significant other." With much of Love's material focused on relationship advice, she is no stranger to getting personal onstage. "You need a lot of trust. [It's] hard being away from a relationship for half the week. But (for me), it's worth it." Besides, Love looks on the bright side: "Being gone so often...he has a chance to miss me!"

Houston fans of this Ellen and Tonight Show favorite certainly have missed her here, too. Last time she performed at the Houston Improv was in 2009, as part of the Comedians of Chelsea Lately Tour. Before that, she said, she cut her teeth opening for some of her favorite comedians such as D.L. Hughley and Eddie Griffin. "I even opened for 'Weird Al' Yankovic once! He's a great guy."

Considering the sheer number of guys headlining clubs these days, Love is proud to be the exception. "There's always this question: Are female comics funny?" she says before pausing slightly and answering, "Of course they're funny! You don't see many female comics headlining because if they get pregnant or something happens, they have to get off the road. And it's really hard, once you get off the road, to get back on."

When asked for advice for up-and-coming comedians, her answer was simple: "Stage time is key. No matter what the stage is; whether it's a bar, or a theater or a club, you do it. And don't let anybody tell you that you should feel bad about doing something in your act. Whatever you wanna do, do. You'll be okay.

"The most satisfying part is meeting the fans," Love says. "Two weeks ago in Boise, a man comes up to me and says, 'I was married for 21 years and my wife had a boyfriend for four years. This is the first time I've laughed since the divorce.'" For a comic, those moments are golden. "Being able to be together and share a laugh...that's what stand-up's all about."

Loni Love appears at the Houston Improv at 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713‑333‑8800 or visit improvhouston.com. $17 to $30.

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