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A Landry list of hilarious stories

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Contributed photoLisa Landry appears Saturdeay in the Rooftop Best and Brightest No. 2 program, part of the Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival.
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ASPEN – Lisa Landry doesn’t like to use her 2-year-old son, Ari, in her stand-up act. “My kid didn’t have to be born to a comedian,” figured Landry, as Ari wailed in the background, until mom quieted him down with a dose of “Dora the Explorer.”Every other aspect of Landry’s life, however – her Louisiana upbringing, the mediocre New York theater school she attended, her conversion to Judaism – is bound to be examined on the Wheeler Opera House stage on Saturday. Landry, who performed at last year’s inaugural Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival, returns with an appearance in tonight’s Rooftop Best and Brightest No. 2 program.”Everything is funny to me – except sick-kid jokes,” said the 31-year-old from her home in Los Angeles. “Everything else is fair game.”That starts with Harvey, the small town in southeastern Louisiana where Landry grew up a “shy, fat, weird kid.” “It’s right before you fall off the edge of the world. Make a hard right, a hard left, and you’re smack in the middle of the bayou,” Landry said of her hometown. She escaped as soon as she could: “Louisiana’s cool, but … You could be a bartender or a stripper or a lawyer who bails them out of jail. I didn’t have the grades to be a lawyer.”So she found the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, a school whose biggest attraction was that it had affordable dorms. “It wasn’t as if I aspired to go to Juilliard. Or that I would have gotten in,” Landry said. “But I had to audition to get in.”Theater school taught her that she didn’t want to use someone else’s words. Stand-up comedy, however, allowed her to write her own material. In 1997, she began appearing at New York’s comedy clubs, launching her into a career of “lots of bad gigs and long drives.” The gigs have gotten better – Landry had her own half-hour Comedy Central special, and has co-starred on “Law & Order: SVU” – and now that she’s a mother, long drives seem like a luxury: “My kid’s 2. It’s a good time to be on the road,” she said.Maybe the richest source of comedy in Landry’s life is her conversion, two years ago, from Catholicism to Judaism, so that she and her husband could half-heartedly follow the same faith. When the rabbi who performed her conversion asked her if she could give up bacon, Landry demurred.”I said, ‘I’m Cajun; I’m Southern. Everything we eat is made with bacon. I can’t give that up,'” she said. “So she asked if I could fast on Yom Kippur. I said, ‘Sure.'”Landry said that, despite her regular inattendance at services, Judaism is a good fit for her. To her, it is the only religion that shows a respect for women. And it fits her edgy personality.”Judaism is the ultimate punk-rock religion,” she said. “We have a reputation for being pushy, but that’s because the religion teaches you to always ask, ‘Why?’ It’s about talking directly to God and saying, ‘What’s up with that shit, dude?'”Lisa Landry appears Saturday in the Rooftop Best and Brightest No. 2 program, at 8:30 p.m. at the Wheeler Opera House. The program is part of the Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival, which closes Saturday with The Big Show, at 10:15 p.m., at the Wheeler.stewart@aspentimes.com


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