Caroline Rhea has been acting and performing stand-up since 1989, when she left her native Montreal for New York. She launched a career that’s included a steady stream of movie and TV work (you may recall her role as Aunt Hilda on “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch”) and comedy gigs.
Rhea, 50, is bringing her stand-up to Jamestown on Thursday when she headlines the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival’s Stand-Up Showcase.
Q: So many entertainers point to Lucille Ball’s influence on their career. How did her work impact you?
Rhea: Lucille Ball completely inspired me. I LOVED all of her television shows, and she taught a master class in timing and comedy every time you watched her. Nothing was accidental. She was a very precise comedienne.
Q: Who are some contemporary comedians who you feel will be pointed to by comics two or three generations from now as having set a new standard or broken ground?
Rhea: I love Rachel Feinstein, Judy Gold, Kathleen Madigan, and I think Mindy Kaling is fantastic. There are so many hilarious strong female comedians. They’re all groundbreakers.
Q: Who else inspires you?
Rhea: I have been to the Edinburgh Festival twice and performed for a month each time and was completely inspired by how creative everyone is.
Q: What’s your greatest source of joy in performing comedy?
Rhea: I find being on stage completely calming. I always consider it a dinner party: I am bringing some ingredients and the audience brings the other part. When it’s organically funny, it is very joy-inducing.
Q: What’s your biggest challenge?
Rhea: The only challenge I find is actually getting to a venue. If I had some residual Sabrina powers I would just zap myself everywhere.