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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 2, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 09
Sarah Colonna's Life as I Blow It
Arts & Entertainment
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Sarah Colonna's Life as I Blow It

by Jeremy Behrens - SGN Contributing Writer

As a regular panelist and writer on E!'s Chelsea Lately and a stand-up comedian, Sarah Colonna has had some experiences along the way that have made her the woman she is today. It is no surprise that being friends with Chelsea Handler would give you some stories to tell, but in her first book, Life as I Blow It, Colonna talks about her own childhood, her worst stand-up experiences, and the occasional hiccup along the way.

Last week, I had the chance to sit down and talk with Sarah Colonna about her first experience writing a novel, the challenges she faced along the way, and why she and her friends enjoy writing about their sexcapades so much.

Jeremy Behrens: So Sarah, your new book is called Life as I Blow It. That is quite the title.

Sarah Colonna: Yeah, it was the subject of a lot of back-and-forth between my publishers at Random House. Luckily, they got on board. It seems to get people interested.

Behrens: You grew up in Farmington, Arkansas. How did you fall into performing and comedy?

Colonna: I wish I had a more interesting story than this, but I always knew I wanted to do this. I'm always asking my mom, 'Are you sure there isn't something that you remember me doing instead of just saying that funny thing that one time?' I don't really think that she believed that I would actually do it until I pulled up in a U-Haul and moved across the country by myself. My dad lived in L.A., and I visited a lot in the summer so I knew a bit about what it was like out there.

Behrens: How did you fall into writing?

Colonna: For me, doing stand-up forced me to write. When I started doing stand-up, I met Chelsea [Handler] in a class we took together. We were about 21 or 22 at the time and we went around to a lot of the same open mics. It was good to have a friend in the trenches with me. Going to so many open mics, you realize you have to write more material because you don't want to always do the same material.

Behrens: And how did writing for TV come into the mix?

Colonna: After one year of doing the Round Table full-time on Chelsea Lately, they asked me if I would want to write for them. It was never something that I considered doing like that full-time, but now that I have been doing it, I am 1,000% happy. One of the best things about the job is that it has kept me writing comedy.

Behrens: Writing for stand-up comedy, you know that the material will be performed. How difficult was it to transfer that sort of voice you use in your comedy material to the writing in your book?

Colonna: I found the hardest part for me was that I was worried about overwriting. In stand-up, you have to get to the punchline quickly in order to make it work. When I was writing, however, I had more time to lay out the story. My editor was great with helping me merge my two voices together. 'I'm not writing in a diary' is something I said to myself constantly. It was certainly a challenge to remind myself that not every sentence has to be a joke.

Behrens: You work with many comedians who have written books in the same vein as yours. Other than your team at Random House, did you let anyone read your drafts?

Colonna: Not really. I didn't want people outside of my editor to read what I had to say. I was trying to keep those people from reading it and having a reaction to something they know or don't know about me. It was better for me that it came from a place where I could just be myself.

Behrens: Back to that title, Life as I Blow It. With Chelsea's books and their own provocative titles, what can fans of her books look forward to with your book?

Colonna: The thing is, Chelsea and I are very similar, but we could not be more different. Chelsea's success with her books really helped me to be honest and up front in my own writing. It has been a great way for me to look at where I am now all the way back to where I came from.

Behrens: What do you bring to this sort of writing that is unique to you?

Colonna: I don't know if it is unique, but I think the comment I am most appreciative of is how much people have said they can relate to me and my experiences. At one point, for example, I wrote about the worst stand-up experience I had 10 years ago, and how I was able to take something away from that. It is exciting to write about having a bad day and not giving up, which is what people have mentioned taking away from it.

Behrens: How is Sarah in person different from Sarah on paper?

Colonna: There really isn't that much of a difference because I am who I am pretty much everywhere. On Chelsea Lately and After Lately, we are heightened versions of ourselves, sure, but I like being 100% myself. I think I achieved that with my book.

Behrens: You and other comedians from Chelsea Lately who have published seem to have a very sex-positive outlook. Would you agree with that? If so, why do you think it is important that we tell stories like this?

Colonna: Relationships are such a struggle, it doesn't matter how many years you have been experiencing it. To be honest, yes, there was a phase in my 20s where I admit to doing some very questionable things, but that doesn't make me a bad person. People need to remember that it is OK to have fun and not be taken seriously all the time. The great thing about growing up is that you can make mistakes - you can, as I think I wrote in my book, 'pick up your underwear and move on.' You can be a good person and still have a great time with your life.

Behrens: What do you think our readers might be able to take away from your book?

Colonna: Above all, I just want people to be able to relate to something on some level. Sexuality, fitting in, it can be a struggle to feel like you fit in. I had to merge my own two identities, the one of my more traditional mom and my not-so traditional father. Coming out is a struggle, it is about being comfortable with you are. My experiences, even being a straight woman, may not be exactly the same, but they are about being 100% who you are.

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