In this week’s City Paper, I interview comedian Erin Foley who will appear this Friday at Cruze Bar, 1600 Smallman Street in the strip. Below is an extended version of the interview which includes more of Erin’s thoughts on standup comedy, the New York Giants and the drafting of the NFL’s first openly-gay player.
Erin Foley’s comedy career has been going pretty well. She’s performed on stages across the country, appeared in movies and TV shows, has her own sports podcast: Sports Without Balls and last year she made her first appearance performing on the Conan O’Brien show. But it’s just temporary for the 35-year-old comic who still hopes to realize her dream of playing wide receiver for the New York Giants. But before she takes the field, she spent some time talking with City Paper about her dream, her comedy and performing at Pittsburgh Pride.
Is this your first trip to Pittsburgh?
I actually did Cruze bar last year it was super fun and this year it seems like it’s going to be even more out of control so I’m going to start sleeping now. It’s part of gay pride so I think it’s going to be ridiculous. People get a little crazy.
Is Pride something you get into every year? How have you seen these events change over the years?
I think Pride is great for people who don’t live in major cities where there’s a gay community. They can travel and be around like-minded people. I’ve been fortunate to live in New York and now L.A. where there’s a large community. [Pride has] gotten bigger and there seems to be more booze involved. It’s definitely not my scene anymore, not that I’m 80. But when I was in my 20s and trying to figure out whether I was gay, Pride was like “Oh, my God! What is this, this is the greatest thing on earth.” But now, you know, I’m good. I’m gay enough.
As a huge sports fan and as someone who is Out and working in the public spotlight, what did you think about Michael Sam becoming the first openly gay athlete to be taken in the NFL draft? And what do you make of the uproar over him kissing his boyfriend when he was selected?
I’m an intense sports fan, football in particular, and I watch the draft every year. I sit down in my little warroom with my laptop and my notebook — yep, that’s how ridiculous I am as a human—and everybody is crying and kissing their girlfriends and their babies, it’s so sweet. So, all he did was the same exact thing and there’s this huge outrage. Again, this is the first time it’s happening so there will be an outrage, but that’s all that gets reported on. Listen, to me this is not a big deal for me but in the sporting world and culturally it was and hopefully now, it won’t.
Do you think there will ever be a time when we refer to him as just an NFL player and not a gay NFL player?
I think we’re years away from that. When you talk about tackling the last bastion of masculinity and homophobia, you’re talking about the NFL. There’s not a more homophobic sport out there. And I think what Michael Sam has done — to come out before you even take an NFL snap — it’s amazing.
I read somewhere that your childhood dream was to be a wide receiver for the New York Giants. When did you realize that dream was not going to come true?
I’m actually still holding onto that dream. I feel like another bad season and I’m in there. But seriously, I’d say pretty early on when I noticed, “hey, why are there are no ladies playing out there.”
How did you get into comedy?
I come from a family of teachers and I was considering going to grad school. But I had done some improv, I was living in New York, I was trying to figure out if I was gay, it was just a ridiculous time trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I joined an improv troupe and we were performing at a comedy club at 6:30 while everyone around us was eating dinner — you know, because it was really good improv — and I’d stick around and start watching the stand-up comedians and I fell in love with it. I was in New York watching the greatest comedians in the world and I just decided to give it a shot and it stuck.
What’s next for you?
Actually, I think I worry about the Giants season than I do my own career. God, I wish that was a joke, but it’s true. People always ask me, “Erin what are your career goals?” and I always say to play catch with Derek Jeter and run down the field and have Eli Manning hit me with a pass that I take into the endzone. Those are my comedy goals because I feel like if I keep getting funnier they won’t be able to ignore me and I can make that happen.