DEBRA DIGIOVANNI: I'M JUST SAYIN... with DiGiovanni, Kristeen von Hagen and Laurie Elliott. At Diesel Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way), Sunday (November 25) at 7:30 pm. $25. www.dieselplayhouse.com Rating: NNNNN
Debra Digiovanni wants to set the record straight about her stint as one the 10 finalists in the NBC reality show Last Comic Standing. She didn't cry when she got voted off. "I did not," she says. "Oh. My. God."
When she saw the episode, she admits there may have been some creative editing to make it appear that she did.
"We all know that I sweat. I'm damp," she laughs. In fact, a few years ago, DiGiovanni had to retape her Comedy Now! special because of it. "And I think there was a moment when I did this" - she mimics rubbing the perspiration off her face - "and they put that in."
Mind you, that doesn't mean she didn't get emotional in the privacy of her own hotel room afterwards.
"But not on camera!" she barks. "Housekeeping heard me cry. 'More towels?' 'Yes!'"
That little bit of self-deprecating humour is classic DiGiovanni, and maybe it'll even show up in her headlining set this week at the Diesel Playhouse, which she's calling a thank-you to her Toronto fans for all their support before, during and after the career-boosting LCS experience.
Since the show, she's played sold-out gigs in several cities in the U.S., where she says the crowds are wild about comedy.
"They have a real rock-star mentality about it. They all want to say hello to you after, they treat you really well. There's more excitement around it than there is here."
Not that she's bitter, mind you. The whole experience finally convinced her parents, who live in Tillsonburg, that she was legitimate.
"This is a message for all the kids out there," she laughs. "If you're having trouble with your family, all you have to do is get on an NBC show. Oddly enough, they like you a little more after that."
DiGiovanni's mother even became a mini-celebrity.
"She was so excited when she didn't have to show her ID to cash a cheque," laughs the comic.
DiGiovanni's under no illusions that the reality show was about stand-up comedy. She wishes it were less stunt-based and more like American Idol, where the contestants perform and then there's a vote.
One of those stunts still gives her nightmares.
"Dear Christ," she sighs about an episode that had the contestants dress up in court jester costume, complete with cap, bells and tights, and perform in front of a coliseum-style theatre.
"To have the audience in the round, surrounding you," she moans. "And they'd been drinking for hours! And then to have that humiliating costume! I pleaded to get to wear pants, but they wouldn't let me. I don't know how I got through that."
Still, that experience got her to come up with one of the show's most memorable lines, which concerned being "lanced a lot."
"Even the crew thought it was funny," she says. "It's the line people yell at me now."
Additional Interview Audio Clips
On signing a reality show contract:
On censoring her Canadian material:
On how the LCS experience has changed her act