Mixing athletics and comedy without losing an eye may sound
like a difficult prospect, but out comedian/pro-football player Jennie McNulty
has a fondness for multitasking.
McNulty has performed her personal blend of stand-up for troops
overseas, on Olivia cruises, on One Night
Stand Up (which aired on Logo, AfterEllen.com’s parent company), and
everywhere in between, and she currently plays defensive back for the California Quake women’s
football team. She’s also about to launch a new vlog on AfterEllen.com called Jennie McNulty Presents Walking Funny — the
world’s first walking talk show.
We had the chance to catch up with her recently to talk
about Walking Funny, football, and
whether Iraqi soldiers or vacationing lesbians make a better crowd at a live
you play football and you perform comedy. Which is more strenuous?
Jennie McNulty: [laughs] Physically strenuous, it’s football of course.
With the comedy part, the comedy itself is easy, it’s just all the other stuff
[that's hard]. You know, you try to get the work and do all those things on
that end. It’s kind of like the same thing [with football] — the games are
really fun too, but all the conditioning you have to do to get in shape for the
games is rough.
AE: Has living in the
MySpace era made that background work any easier as a performer?
JM: I think it’s saved me a lot in postage! You know, it does make it
easier, and it’s kind of the same channel, you’ll contact somebody and they’ll
want to see your work, and you’ll hook them up with your MySpace page or … your
website or what have you. But in a way, it’s made it a little less personal
Before, you’d make phone calls to people and actually talk
to them and have them say yea or nay to your face — well, to your ear. It’s
easier, and it’s not. You get blown off a lot easier by email, I think.
AE: How did you get
into comedy in the first place?
JM: I always kind of wanted to do something in the entertainment field, and
my parents had retired and moved down to Florida
and I’d just graduated from college, so I needed to get a job. I got a job in a
research lab, and I really liked it — I loved everybody I worked with, but it
wasn’t what I always wanted to do. I was kind of making people in the lab
laugh, so I thought, "Well, maybe I am funny."
So I watched a few open mic nights, and it looked like some
of those people must’ve lost a bet or something [laughs] because some were just
really bad. I thought, "I can do at least that well!" I just kind of
tried it, and it went really well, fortunately, and I just kept doing it and
AE: Between the
soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and the lesbians on Olivia cruises, who’s the
JM: You know, it’s funny because I did them kind of back to back. I was in
P-town [Provincetown, Mass.]
all summer, then I did Afghanistan,
then I came back for women’s week in P-town. I was joking that it was sort of
like going from "don’t ask" to "tell everybody"!
You know what, though, I love doing the military shows. I
have to do what I call "don’t ask don’t tell" shows, so I just don’t
bring up anything relationship-wise, but I’m decked out in rainbow gear from
head to toe — Richard Simmons would look straighter than I do performing there.
I’ve had soldiers come up and say, "Hey, nice bracelet,"
so I know they get it. Those shows are just incredibly rewarding to do, because
I have such respect for those people over there. None of them should be there
in this stupid war, and they’re putting their lives on the line. And it kind of
feels like you’re at least helping them out because they all just go, "God,
thanks for taking our mind off of where we are.’"
AE: That must be very
JM: They’re incredibly rewarding. And then the Olivia trips, they’re kind
of like the weird emotional opposite. You know, in New
York or L.A.,
you can be whoever you want to be. I live in West
Hollywood; I can walk down the street with my girlfriend and hold
On the Olivia trips, you’re dealing with people who live in
the middle of the country. I had one woman tell me she and her girlfriend had
to practice holding hands, because they can never hold hands when they’re home.
Those crowds are so amazing because everyone’s just on cloud nine — they’re
totally free to be who they are. They’re already walking in the door pretty
darn happy, so they’re fun crowds to do.
So they’re both rewarding shows, you know what I mean — it’s
a great job I’ve got. It’s really a lot of fun, you get to say things that
other people would like to say but can’t, and you can make statements and help
to try and change things, because I talk about it in my show — we need to be
out. People that can be out need to be out, so that they know we’re out there,
they know we’re just normal people [laughs].
One of the jokes I have is "it’s not just their cousin"
— we’re here, we’re queer, we’re everywhere and we’re all right.