by Genea L. Webb
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Gloria Bigelow always knew she was funny.
“I have an uncle who called me jaws and he always said ‘you’re funny, Jaws,” Bigelow recalled. “I was always a child who liked to entertain and showcase myself.”
Now the former Mount Lebanon resident is able to show the rest of the world her talent in OWN’s comedy special “Herlarious” this Saturday, July 13.
The comedy special, which is a first for the OWN network, premieres Saturday from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. It showcases up and coming female comediennes and actress Brooke Shields as Harpo Studios is turned into a chic comedy club with a live audience.
The hour-long comedy fest will be hosted by Wanda Sykes who, on the advice of a producer, watched Bigelow’s stand-up routine on tape and hand-picked her to perform on “Herlarious.”
“When I got the call from Wanda, I ran around like crazy in my apartment and talked to my dog,” said Bigelow who now resides in Los Angeles after stints in other parts of the country including New York, South Carolina and Atlanta. She left Pittsburgh in 1989. “I’ve only been doing stand up for seven years and you perform because you want to tell your story and you want to get better.
Bigelow chooses issues like sexuality, race and gender as the methods for her comedy. As an African-American lesbian, she tackles issues like ‘low lesbian self-esteem” and racism in bite-sized chunks that are easy on the listener but leaves them thinking, laughing and wanting more.
Although she has only been on the comedy scene for less than a decade, Bigelow has made strides in the comedic community. She has performed at all of New York’s top comedy clubs including The Improv, Caroline’s and Gotham.
Unfortunately she has never brought her unique brand of comedy to the Pittsburgh stage.
“I performed at one of the Penn State Campuses once, not the main one, though. I would love to come to Pittsburgh to perform. My family is from the Hill District and Beltzhoover and I was just in Pittsburgh in November. I have warm and fuzzy feelings about Pittsburgh. I’d love for someone to bring me home to perform,” Bigelow said.
Bigelow is no stranger to the small screen either. She hosted the pre and post show for the first “NewNowNext” awards for MTV Networks Logo Channel and was nominated the following year for their “Brink of Fame Comic” award.
She is currently working on a one-woman show and is penning a memoir about her misfortunes in New York City.
“My humor is antidotal. I like to have my own point of view. If you have the chance to use a microphone and tell something why not say it in a funny way,” she said.
“It was dreamy to work with Wanda Sykes,” Bigelow continued. “It’s great to see her work. She was kind and gracious and her mind is always working. I’d love to work with her again anytime.”
A new episode of “Herlarious” will air on July 20 with a new set of up-and-coming female comics ready to make America laugh.
“I think the show is really funny and hopefully people will walk away with new comics they are interested in,” said Bigelow about “Herlarious.” “OWN is a good platform for us and people can listen to some new comics. We are all so different and we all have different voices. Comedy is super empowering for women because you get to bring all of whom you are to the table and that’s huge. That’s lucky.”