Chelsea Peretti is not only a Bay Area treasure (Oakland to be exact), but as the name of her stand-up tour indicates, she's an "American Treasure" as well. She's been bringing the funny via her role as Gina Linetti on the Golden Globe Award-wining TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine as well as appearances on The Kroll Show and Louie. She's also lent her brand of dry wit and humor by writing for Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live, The Sarah Silverman Program, and Portlandia — and let's not forget her magical podcast "Call Chelsea Peretti."
She's been on the road with her "American Treasure Tour" since March and it is culminating at the Palace of Fine Arts on Friday, June 13 (at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m.). Chelsea will not only be performing, but recording her first hour-long special on her home turf. We had the chance to talk to Chelsea about her tour, her stand-up special, staying in haunted hotels, Danity Kane, and where to find the best burrito in the Bay Area.
Dino Ray Ramos: Do audiences react differently to your material in different regions? Or is your fan base pretty much the same throughout the whole country?
Chelsea Peretti: There is a feeling of different energy in different places. I found that in the Midwest, people are more sensitive. You're just making fun of yourself in a joke, they'll feel bad for you. In this last southern leg of the tour, (I told) a story where I threw up on a flight and the audience wasn't as comfortable. They're a little more restrained in that way – but there's exceptions to any kind of generalization. I remember being at the Addison Improv in Texas and that audience was up for anything. I think it just depends where you are specifically.
DRR: Do you remember your very first stand up set and how it went?
CP: I do. I was temping in New York City and a woman who was also a temp and did stand up comedy, encouraged me to go to an open mic downtown at this bar called the Parkside Lounge. They had a stage in the back room and it was definitely kind of a boys' club feeling. All I remember is that my set was written on wrapping paper and I had a joke about crop dusting. (laughs) It definitely didn't go that well, but, for whatever reason – I think it was the camaraderie and the joking in the room – I wanted to come back and show the people, the comedians, that I actually was funny. I went back the next week.
DRR: Where did the name, “The American Treasure Tour” come from?
CP: I think it comes from a lot of places. Obviously, I just think it's funny to be so grandiose. It's like when someone writes their own bio, but they put it in the third person and say all these complimentary things about themselves. (laughs) That's what a lot of us do. I think that, on a deeper level, when people talk about the comedians they consider merican legends, they don't include women like Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers. There's been so many people that get frequently omitted from the dialogue. I like the idea of just calling myself that.
DRR: Have there been any specific, memorable moments on or off stage that you care to divulge?
CP: Well, this last leg we stayed in all these places that were haunted so me and my opener couldn't sleep. I don't even believe in ghosts, but there was a hotel that we stayed in where I literally felt a weird energy. My opener Googled all these stories about it and was texting me all these details. Of course, it was in my head all night and I couldn't sleep. We had those kind of adventures.
DRR: Was staying in a haunted hotel a deliberate decision?
CP: No, I thought , "Oh, this place looks cool." Well, in one city it was the only option. (laughs)
What do you like about coming back to the Bay Area to perform your comedy?
For my one-hour special, I really have been putting a ton of energy into planning it. I've written a bunch of additional stuff to put in. Not just a stand-up, but all this conceptual stuff that I'm including that I'm really excited about, that cracks me up. I wanted every piece of the puzzle to be special for my first one-hour special. I just loved the idea of doing it in my hometown. When I learned that the Palace of Fine Arts was an option, it was somewhere that had a lot of history for me; I was excited to have that be part of the special. I couldn't even believe it because it's such an iconic location that we drove by as a child... and the Exploratorium, wasn't that over there?
Yeah, the Exploratorium used to be there. Now it's along the Embarcadero.
I used to love the Exploratorium when I was a kid. It's just so cool, when your life has changed so much to go back to somewhere that you loved as a kid and be able to do what you loved doing again as an adult. There's just something really cool about that.
When you come back to the Bay Area, is there somewhere you always have to go? Do you have a favorite burrito spot?
Yeah, I love Gordo's. I miss Gordo's. It's controversial to say your favorite burrito in the Bay Area because it always starts a burrito war. (laughs) I will say this: LA is like this crazy mystery to me. They don't have good burritos here. It's so weird. It's an hour flight, why can't we have the same burritos as the Bay Area? They just aren't good here. It's a taco town.
What do you get at Gordo's?
I love their corn quesadillas. I love their burritos... my mouth is watering right now thinking about it. More recently, I tried El Farolito in San Francisco and that was pretty amazing. As of now, I would say those are my favorites. I love Fentons, but, obviously, you can't always get into Fentons, but their sundaes are so good. There's so many places I love in the Bay Area. There's such good food. The Bay Area is definitely somewhere you can have endless good meals.
On a recent podcast, you and Yassir Lester had a debate about which was the better Danity Kane song: "Showstopper" or "Damaged." Have you heard their new song, "Lemonade"?
It is really good. Yassir loved it. There's nothing really that tops "Showstopper" for me, but that may be about the actual content. I like the way it plays into stand up, I've been using it as my walk on.
That is an awesome choice for walk on music for your comedy show.
I think it's going to be super. I don't think I've ever been more excited about anything that I've done. I've put so much work into it for all these things I want to do. I think it's going to be really cool.
For tickets to the American Treasure Tour visit ChelseaPeretti.com