Doers: Lily Sullivan, Just for Laughs

Doers: Lily Sullivan, Just for Laughs

What’s funny?

Lilly Sullivan

Lilly Sullivan

Blowing raspberries at every little thing that weighs heavy on us: elections, global warming, the guest list for our upcoming party.

Sometimes humor is so arch a person could drive a double decker bus through it.

What’s funny can also be wildly slapstick or wildly referential to strain your brain.

Interviewed in The New York Times, Bob Odenkirk, who played the lawyer Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad,” defined comedy as honesty, then he added:

“There are a couple of things wrong with me; some of them I make money off of. Ultimately what we’re all doing is trying to turn our psychological problems into a paycheck.”

Steve Martin defines comedy as “not pretty.”

What’s funny?

Former homegirl Lilly Sullivan.

Who is pretty.

And who could well be on a roll thanks to the acclaim she received this summer at Just for Laughs.

Just for Laughs or JFL is the largest international comedy festival in the world, held in Montreal, Canada every year in July. Tons of celebrities attend what amounts to one big industry party. This summer, Lilly was chosen as one of JFL’s “Fresh Faces,” or  one of 10 actors in the “character” line-up.

“I was picked as one of Just for Laugh New Faces, which means I was part of an annual list of up-and-coming comedians highlighted in their ‘New Faces’ showcase. The event is held in a 400-person theater in front of a industry crowd, meaning managers, agents, and people in charge of comedy content at numerous TV networks. It is huge exposure. For a lot of folks in the comedy business, this is the most important and recognized career-launcher around. The showcase is generally the first step before The Big Break,”

Becoming part of the JFL family is clearly a major tip of the hat to Lily’s obvious talent.

“JFL holds auditions around the country in New York, Chicago, LA, and elsewhere. Only 10 people are chosen for the showcase I did. Once in, the New Faces shows are broken into categories: standups and sketch performers, aka, characters. I am a sketch performer. I don’t do stand up; I do characters. That means during my seven-minute set, the audience sees five different characters, created to illustrate my range as a performer and writer. FYI, this is how some people audition for SNL too. You see people do impressions or original characters. I don’t do impressions; they are not my forte.”

Lily’s signature style is, relatively speaking, understated. More Tina Fey than Carol Burnett.

“I don’t use many props at all or wigs, which is common practice for most other performers. For JFL, I just had a laptop and a necktie. That was it, which made traveling easy. I just let people imagine what I looked like as these characters. My personas are very subtle and nuanced so, because the theater is so big (400 people), I was worried my set would not read. Thankfully it did. My characters included an online therapist who keeps getting distracted by her cat; a valet driver who is proud to be one of the few female valets in existence; and an Italian restaurant owner furiously trying to discredit all the online reviews that say customers are finding hair in their food.”

Here is an example of Lilly Sullivan in action:

“This is a video I shot with my brother Jake in Durango last summer. I improvised the character and edited the video later. I picked this video for everyone to check me out because it gives you an idea of what other of my characters are like. They’re not you’re typical over-the-top, SNL types.  They are a little bit more realistic; you feel like you could know this woman. Also the video has dogs and people in Telluride LOVE dogs!!!

More about Lily Sullivan:

Lily is an actor, writer, and improviser now based in Los Angeles. But she grew up in both Chicago and Telluride.

After graduating Bates College in Maine, Lily went on to study improv and sketch comedy at iO Chicago, the Annoyance, The Second City Conservatory, and UCB. She then performed for The Second City Touring Company and Second City Communications in Chicago. She also worked with Second City Theatricals aboard the cruise ship Norwegian Dawn. (Yes, really.)

Lily now performs with the The Late 90s at iO Chicago, Bishop at iO West, and at many other theaters around town with her favorite group of gals, Fanny. She also enjoys making videos for viewing on the YouTube channel, many of which have been featured on BuzzFeed, the Second City Network, NBC Chicago, and The RedEye.

Recently, Lily has returned to town to perform with the Telluride Playwrights Festival and in the Telluride Comedy Fest. She is an alum of the Telluride Academy’s Mudd Butts; Sheridan Arts Foundation’s Young People’s Theatre, and the Telluride Repertory Theatre (now Telluride Theatre).

Because she is a middle child, Lily craves attention.

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