felicia madison feature

Laughing Affairs – A Fashionable Q&A with Comedian Felicia Madison

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Not everyone moves to New York City to chase their dreams.

Felicia Madison—founder of Laughing Affairs, which produces Laughercise, an innovative lunch time comedy show, as well as Comedy for a Cause and other private, corporate and fundraising events—was already chewing on the Big Apple when she decided to embark on her comedy career.

Though she had dreamed of becoming a Broadway dancer in her childhood, Felicia graduated from college as a pre-med, majoring in the biological basis of behavior with a minor in marketing at the University of Pennsylvania. (She likes to joke that she’s only qualified to sell drugs.) The happily married, Manhattan-based mother of three decided to pursue comedy after her children were “old enough to not care,” she says, using her experiences as a stay-at-home mom in an affluent neighborhood as the basis for much of her observational comedy.

Along with performing throughout New York City, Felicia blogs, podcasts, and is even writing a television pilot.

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Felicia Madison, Courtesy of JJ Ignotz Photography

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How and when did you first realize you wanted to be a comedian? 

I have always used comedy in social situations, reverting to an observational joke over small talk, so I guess the idea of doing comedy has always been in the back of my mind.  A friend of mine does stand up, and whenever I would bump into him I’d say “I want to try stand up.”  Finally, my kids were old enough to not care if I was around, so I decided to give it a shot.  My friend set me up with a class at the Manhattan Comedy School and I was hooked.

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What is your biggest career highlight to date?

I would have to say performing after Jim Gaffigan. I have had some fun performances but that was eventful because it was a real challenge to follow someone so successful.  I felt like I rose to the occasion, pushed aside my fears, and did my best.

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Any celebrity encounters or memorable stories related to your career that you want to share?

I met Jerry Seinfeld at a charity event. I approached him and tried to give him my card, but he wouldn’t take it.  He did speak with me briefly but didn’t offer up much in terms of advice other than “do it.”  Of course I have no idea what it is like to be him and have people constantly approaching you for help, but I would like to think that if I met a fellow comedian in a social situation I would be a bit more available.  Hopefully, one day, I will find out how I will respond.

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How would you describe your personal style?

Streamlined traditional with an edge. I love to sparkle – a boot, jewelry, sequins.  My favorite boot is the Dries Van Noten boot with crystal-embellished heel.

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Who is your style icon?

I wouldn’t call her my style icon, but I am superbly impressed with Victoria Beckham. She has put together quite a business and I really love her clothes. On par with her are the Olson Twins, again, very impressive what they have accomplished with The Row. I love their streamlined fitted sophisticated clothes … not a fan of the more boho type items or the way they dress. Grace Kelly is definitely my style icon.

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What is a typical day in your life like?

My typical day is not very exciting.  First, I make sure my daughter gets up and out for school, which doesn’t require much, as she is very self-sufficient.  I meditate every morning for 20 minutes before I do anything, I read the New York Times cover to cover, work out, take care of my to-do list, run errands, and then I write and work on comedy for an hour or two.  I occasionally meet friends or other comedians/producers for lunch. My evenings, if not at a mic or a show, are spent at home with my family. Occasionally we will go out for dinner, a show, or some other fun evening activity.

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What are three never-miss events on your calendar? 

My kids’ birthdays and husband’s, although I broke that rule this year as I had a big charity performance.  Other than that anything else can be missed.

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What are your three favorite locations in the city? 

I love Central Park! I love to run and walk in the park, I come up with most of my best material then.  I also have fond memories of what used to be called Wollman Rink—can’t even call it by its real name now.  My daughter used to ice skate before school and although it was painful waking up at 5 am, the park before sunrise and watching the sun rise over the ice skating rink is beyond fabulous.  I love the Lower East Side, great for food, art, and shopping, as well as the Whitney and surrounding neighborhood for the same reasons, plus the High Line.

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What are your three favorite restaurants in the city? 

We are sushi lovers; Sugarfish is a new favorite although we hate the wait, Nobu is a classic, and there’s a local one called Poke. Outside of that, for dinner, Dirty French, and for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Blake Lane on the Upper East Side. They have really great healthy, flavorful food.

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What about your three favorite bars? 

Bars, wow don’t hang at bars very often.  The Grill Room has a nice spacious bar, The Mark is popular but a bit cramped for me. The Surrey Rooftop is the new cool hangout. I don’t really hang at bars unless it’s at a comedy club.

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Felicia Madison 3Felicia Madison, Courtesy of Carol Galanty Photography

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What has been your best New York moment? What about the worst?

Wow—there are so many I can’t even begin and so many different ones. First apartment, first jobs, rushing to the hospital for the birth of my children, the day my husband told me he loved me at One If By Land, Two If By Sea … so many awesome concerts; my favorite was Elton John and Billy Joel came on as a surprise guest. Yankee Stadium’s opening day for the new stadium. Watching my kids on the Thanksgiving Day parade float was amazing but it was also the worst experience, as we had to wake up at 5 am to get them there. I couldn’t prepare anything for dinner and by the time we got home everything was closed and we had to have leftover chicken and pasta for Thanksgiving. My kids will never let me live that Thanksgiving down. 

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Name your go-to: 

Outfit – Black boots, jeans, and a black turtleneck … my uniform. In the spring or fall it is a t- shirt with black leather jacket. I hate summer clothes, so no favorite outfit.

Fragrance – I don’t wear fragrance.  My mom is allergic so I grew up afraid and averse to it.

Movie – Ugh this is hard as I always have trouble recalling things like this.  A classic I love is The Sound of Music. There are so many great morals in it, plus fun happy music. My favorite quote and motto is from this movie—“When God closes a door He opens a window somewhere, and if you are left staring at the closed door you won’t notice the open window.” A paraphrase of sorts but I always use it.  I’m a sucker for Disney movies with the kids, love all of them. Also Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally … any Meg Ryan/Billy Crystal movie.

Book—The Invisible Bridge and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I am currently reading Gloria Steinem’s new book, My Life on the Road.

TV Show – I am loving This Is Us, I’m Dying Up Here and, embarrassingly, The Voice.

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Name your favorite vacation spot, and the hotel you stay at while there. What makes these spots special?

I love Paris – any hotel, doesn’t matter as long as you are in Paris.  Loved our safari in Tanzania. We stayed at the Singita hotel, which was beyond luxurious and gorgeous. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are magical.  The King David in Jerusalem overlooking the Western Wall is beyond beautiful.  

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What are your three most played songs?

Oh my kids make fun of me about my music choices.  My new favorite is Beyonce’s “Love on Top.”  It just puts me in such a good mood.  I love any female pop artist that makes happy, upbeat music. Other songs on my workout playlist that uplift me are “Feel This Moment” and “Break Free” … do I have to go on? I’m like an out of date teenager.

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What are three items you couldn’t live without? 

My kids, my dog, and my husband … anything else is replaceable. Maybe my home, I need that.

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If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Joan Rivers is my comedy inspiration. I would love to meet her but since I cannot I guess meeting her daughter would be cool, to get insight into her mind, her world, and how she really truly felt.  Not to mention, Fashion Police would be my ideal job.  And of course Gloria Steinem has had a fascinating life and journey… and Ellen DeGeneres, I love her humor and I love to dance. I think we would hit it off really well. Lastly, Kate Middleton to find out how she nabbed that prince; she may have some good pointers for my daughters. Sorry that is more than one … I’m not good at making decisions.

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Felicia Madison 4Felicia Madison, Courtesy of Carol Galanty Photography

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What is something people might not know about you?

Hmm … as a comedian you pretty much wear your heart and your life on your sleeve. I don’t think there is much people don’t know about me. Or at least nothing I would share in an interview.

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Do you have any advice for aspiring comedians?

It is a tough, tough, tough, tough, industry, I would probably have to say one of the toughest.  You have to do it because you love it … because there probably won’t be much success in terms of money or notoriety. Also, try not to look right, left, back, or forward—just stay on your path and compare yourself only to your last performance.

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What changes do you think your industry will undergo in the next 5-10 years? 

I think there will be many more female comedians. Right now you go to a club and there will be one female performer and the rest male. That is already changing with more women on shows and more women producing and creating shows. I think it will continue to keep improving. Hopefully one day there will be seven female comedians and one male. 

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Is there anything else you’d like to share, discuss, or promote?

I just recently joined the Friars Club, and I am excited about doing some events there to help other comedians. I have my next Laughercise lunch coming up January 2018; it has a shorter format to enable people to pop in for a quick lunch hour. I also launched Comedy for a Cause, where I put together comedy events to raise money for a charity.  I would love to do as many of these as I can so I’m looking for charities interested in partnering with me. I have written a pilot for television and there is a documentary on my experience in the comedy world in the works. 

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To learn more about Felicia Madison and Laughing Affairs, visit http://feliciamadison.com/

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Lead-in image (also pictured below) courtesy of Felicia Madison and JJ Ignotz Photography

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