BWW Interviews: Kelly Kinsella, Funny Girl With a Side of Anxiety
Kelly Kinsella is one anxious lady, or at least she wants you to think so.
Her stage persona can't make a decision when ordering in a restaurant, dogs give her agita (she wants to toss them out windows) and steak knives are tempting weapons of choice. She wants to teach yoga - no, write children's books - no, be a water colorist ... oh forget it. She just wants to have fun. Only her OCD gets in her way.
Her fourth one-person show, Kelly Kinsella LIVE! WHEN THOUGHTS ATTACK just concluded its run at the Cell, a small theater in Chelsea. If you missed it, don't worry - she's already storing ideas like a squirrel gathering nuts, for her next show.
By all accounts, Kinsella's last character seemed headed for an extended stay in rehab for the chronically indecisive.
But don't be fooled - she may be portraying an idiosyncratic character, but who isn't, she said recently after a show. This talented monologist is, in reality, a gifted performer and playwright who just happens to have some creepy and funny tales to tell.
Her repertoire includes upsetting vignettes from her life that become, in her retelling, hilarious tales. She talks about being a dresser in a Broadway show to earn a living. And in reality she is a dresser for Broadway's JERSEY BOYS. She chatted on the phone recently while ironing a teal dress for the evening performance.
Her personal background overlaps in many ways with her onstage persona, including having majored in studio and theater arts at SUNY New Paltz. At a young age she also played the violin. Unfortunately, her love of the instrument was not encouraged by her parents. "They would shout things like, 'Stop practicing, it's annoying me.' I would have been a great violinist," she said.
Kinsella mined her childhood for some of the funniest bits in the show. When she was in high school, she was chosen to write a play to be performed by her class. It was based on the old sitcom "The Love Boat." "It was kind of stupid," she said. She played her character as if she were a cokehead. The students found it hilarious. Not so the faculty. But it didn't deter Kinsella from exploring the edgy periphery of comedy, as demonstrated in WHEN THOUGHTS ATTACK.
She realized she liked acting in addition to playwriting, and began turning out sketch comedy in college. Later, she worked at Disney World in Florida and renaissance fairs in upstate New York. "I would play a homeless character, and I just improvised," she said of her renaissance fair experiences.
Her last show touched on painfully funny moments in her childhood, including unpleasant recollections involving fireworks, traffic tie-ups and bodily functions. Somehow she made it sound wincingly humorous.
"It's mostly autobiographical," she said of her work. "I heighten the story and make it theatrical, but these are real stories and they happened to me. It's about being a natural storyteller, telling the truth and turning it into entertainment."
The show concludes September 8 and resumes Sunday, October 27 for 9 weeks.
For more information on upcoming performances go to: www.kellykinsella.com