Standup comedienne stands up for sushi servers

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Comedienne Alexa Fitzpatrick’s wry, mischievous smile warms her thoughtfully deadpan delivery. “Serving Bait to Rich People,” Fitzpatrick’s new standup performance about working in an exclusive sushi restaurant in Aspen, Colo., mixes an insider’s look at the outlandish lives of wealthy vacationers with quippy “service industry” humor and interwoven personal epiphanies.

San Francisco is the most recent stop for Fitzpatrick, a New Jersey native turned Fringe Festival nomad, who is currently touring her show throughout North America. The Daily Californian sat down with the dynamic performer to talk about experience, fearlessness and the illegal drug trade in Aspen.

The Daily Cal: How long have you been doing standup?

Alexa Fitzpatrick: Oh, I’ve been doing standup for a long time. But I’ve only been doing it seriously for the past couple years — probably the last three years. And probably for the last 10 months is when I’ve been doing exclusively standup. So last January was when I quit the job at the restaurant, and, knock on wood, I haven’t walked into a restaurant since as anything but a customer.

DC: I know you were on the East Coast, and then you were on the West Coast. What’s going on with all the … ?

AF: What’s with all this moving all over the place? You sound like my mom (laughs). Well, I’ve gone back and forth between New York and LA, and they both are really great cities for different things. And it’s kind of nice to move back and forth because you can learn a bunch in LA and take it back and apply it in New York … And it’s kind of nice to be able to split between the two of them because you get to make sort of more interesting jumps and changes in your career.

DC: Have you found any stability or permanence in Aspen?

AF: There’s no permanence to Aspen (laughs). Aspen is a really transient community. And you’ll hear me joke about this in the show, but I’ve had so many amazing girlfriends leave for incredible opportunities, and that’s how it happens —  you go there, and it’s a great place to live, and there’s a wonderful quality of life. But if you want to do something bigger than that, you’re never going to become Chris Rock in Aspen … Because, it’s amazing, there are so many things that come to us; but it’s still a pretty small town.

And I joke in the show about how I’ve had so many amazing girlfriends leave for better opportunities, but I can’t get rid of one ex-boyfriend. And it’s such a transient community; every season, people take off, and new people come in, and people take off — we call them the freshman class as they roll in, because it’s like a new class, you know? A new crop every year of people who are coming to be ski bums, coming to hide out, coming to do whatever.

DC: Since this is your second show touring the Fringe Festival circuit, do you feel you know more about what you’re doing?

AF: A little bit more. You learn a bit more each year. I think I’ll probably do one more year. From the beginning year, where it was just about figuring out what the hell was going on; to then, the second year, where it’s like, OK, I’m comfortable in this and I’m experiencing this. This is interesting.” And then, I think I’d like to try one more time, just to see — with all the information that I now have — what I could really create.
It’s interesting. When you do it that way, when you jump in and then look for the net, there’s that leap, and the net will appear. And that’s true. When you jump, you rarely die from it — knock on wood.

But what’s interesting, I think, is that when you jump into stuff you have to remember that people are going to talk about how you jumped, and they’re going to talk about why you jumped. They’re going to look for all these things, and you just jumped, right?

DC: How do you feel that your standup performance differs from the more behind-the-scenes things that you do — like your writing and your film prospects?

AF: It’s interesting because people have difficulty separating you from the character or what you’re talking about.

My mom had a very funny comment where she said, “Nobody wants to date a girl that talks about her sex life onstage!”

And I’m like, “Mom, do you really think that’s my sex life? Those are jokes!” But people get very confused about the difference between you and the character, and I think that’s very apparent in one-person shows, ­— any sort of spoken word — because you’re saying “me,” (as in) you, the character. But then people get confused about who that “me” is.

One woman described my show as being “about the cost of cocaine in Aspen.” And when you see the show, I talk about the price of cocaine for maybe six seconds out of a 60-minute show. I guess there’s just some things that offend or stick with some people, and that’s exciting to me. If you can get someone to walk away from your show really hating you, it’s like, you’ve touched a nerve, you know?