Tom Cotter and Kerri Louise: United Front

Tom Cotter and Kerri Louise
The stars of WE’s Two Funny chat with Punchline Magazine about parenting twins, their new stand-up project in NYC and the pitfalls of showcasing their act on a women’s network.

By Noah Fowle

Fresh off their season of Two Funny: Cotter & Louise, are ready to tackle their next challenge as a rising comedy duo- hosting their own monthly variety show at Carolines in New York City. Both respected stand-up comedians in their own right, Cotter and Louise decided to combine their acts after the birth of their twin boys. But as the Women’s Entertainment series illustrates, the transition was not simple.

The two relied on telling stories in their solo acts, and now they are writing brand new material that counts on a combination of their timing and wit. But Cotter and Louise have already begun to hit their stride displaying true chemistry lobbing one-liners back and forth, and finding the inherent laughs in all relationships.

Despite the some glitches, they have sloughed off their early misses with their trademark self-deprecating sense of humor and began building a new place for their novel act. On stage they are like a cat fighting couple; Cotter delivers a crack about her little brain, and after the laughs subside Louise slides in a snide remark about his less than adequate sex drive.

But off stage, the two are down to earth, supportive and humbled by the new challenges of parenting. Since finishing their first season together, they maintain a steadfast commitment to their children first, followed by building their new act while in addition to continuing their solo careers.

After their inaugural show at Carolines, the duo dished on their new act, each other and their twins.

How is it going from successful solo comedy careers, back to a brand new act?
Tom Cotter: Did you see it out there? (referring to the night’s performance)
Kerri Louise: It’s still hard. It’s very different. We know what the process is and what the end result is. We know what it’s like to do an open mic and what it’s like to own a crowd.
TC: We’re like neophytes again.
KL: Starting over is frustrating. It’s hard to get time in for this show. We still maintain our individual acts. We wouldn’t be able to survive without them. This is a novelty so we are making it a priority.

Who were your influences for this new act?
TC: Well, our shared love of George Carlin made us fall in love. Also George Burns and Gracie Allen did something like this.
KL: We went to the Museum of Television and Radio and discovered an old duo Nickels and Mary. We’d never heard of them before, but they were great.

Tom Cotter and Kerri LouiseSo, how did you guys meet?
TC: We met doing stand-up in Boston.
KL: We knew each other from the circuit there. We had played together. Then we went skiing up in New Hampshire, and I fell in love with him on the slope.

How was your first TV experience? What do you prefer the TV world or the stand up circuit?
KL: I love TV. That’s where I want to go, that’s the goal. But I really missed doing stand-up. TV is long hours, hurry up and wait. When I’m on stage by myself, I answer to no one. That’s why it’s so hard now to work with Tom.
TC: One begets the other. I will always do stand-up. It’s what I love. But TV let’s you choose the venue and it gets more fannies in the seats.
KL: With TV, people like you before you even open your mouth.
TC: TV allows for exposure too.
KL: But stand-up provides that immediate reaction
TC: Comedians by nature are insecure. We need that immediate gratification. I want to know right after I utter the words whether they are funny or not.

What was it like to have your first show on the WE network?
TC: Emasculating. Brutal. I never thought my first show would be sponsored by Tampax.
KL: Don’t worry, no one was watching.
TC: I wanted people to be high when they watched my TV show, not bloated and menstruating.
KL: It was strange because our demographic for the shows was very different from the crowds we play to.
TC: The show became unfunny. Each and every take they wanted to shape. It really tied our hands.
KL: We are edgy New York City comics and that’s not how we come off.

So who gets recognized more?
KL: Our boys. The first time it happened it was all four of us together.
TC: Kerri was on the second season of Last Comic Standing and got a lot of exposure for that.
KL: And Tom had a half hour Comedy Central special and was on the Tonight Show.
TC: We’re each others’ biggest fans. We really don’t compete against one another.

Where are the kids now?
TC: In the car. It’s okay, the window is cracked.
KL: No, they’re with the babysitter. Hopefully they’re asleep.

What’s more difficult— doing a combined act or parenting twins?
KL: Parenting twins. I’m more relaxed on stage. Being a parent is the hardest job. `

What do you think your sons will think of the show and your act when they get older?
TC: Hopefully they’ll think it was comical. We’re not too worried. We thought the whole process through and we don’t think it will be detrimental. They got paid about what we got paid, so it helped set up their college fund.
KL: It means a lot more work for us. We still need to teach them.
TC: We take pride in our parenting. Both of us come from strong families. Our careers keep our days free so we are there when they wake up and there when they go to sleep. We want to be very hands on. Our kids are first and our careers are second.

Do you guys find it hard to turn off your acts when you are off stage?
KL: No, I like to save myself for the stage. It annoys me when people feel like they always have to be on. I slip in a joke every now and then. But my act is mostly exaggerated stories. Tom has a little more punch, he’s goofier with the kids.
TC: My act is mostly about how small my penis is.

When your parents finally got used to the fact that you weren’t going to be a doctor or a lawyer, how did they feel when they found out your were also going to be marrying another comedian?
KL: My mom was not happy. She still reminds me about teaching jobs when I go home. She still thinks my comedy is my hobby.
TC: My dad had a lot of trouble with it. He paid for a lot of private school. I’m the mistake because I get up in front of strangers and talk about my penis. But my next older sibling, who is a great guy, really makes me look good.

You guys recently moved to Harlem, what is that like?
KL: It’s great. We’re like pioneers.
TC: Of everywhere I’ve lived in New York it’s definitely my favorite. Our neighborhood is lot of people like us, families, kids, working parents. Sure we’re the only marshmallows in the fudge, but it’s fun.

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