Jessimae Peluso: So Extra

2018 Moontower Series

  Valerie Lopez       Lara Smith      Credit Nick Larson

It’s a Friday afternoon in the calm before the comedy storm here at Moontower. I’m standing in the lobby of the Driskill hotel waiting for our next guest to arrive. In walks Jessimae Peluso, in a black baseball cap, but still looking like a beautiful celebrity, going incognito to throw off the paparazzi. I go in to greet her with a handshake and she waves off my hand, saying, “No, bring it in,” pulling me in for a hug. This is what it is to know Jessimae Peluso. Once you’ve met her, you never feel like a stranger, or even an acquaintance, again. You’re old friends now. In my case, she and I go way back…to last night at the Goddamn Comedy Jam. My colleague, Valerie, barely makes it through her intro before the laughing starts and will continue for the next hour. Peluso’s laughs, with their many many styles, are contagious and fill a room.

As a former cast member of MTV’s Girl Code and having just finished performing on Kid Rock’s Chillin’ The Most Cruise, you might get the impression that Peluso is a party girl. If you listen to her talk for any period of time though, you quickly figure out that she may be one of the most professional and balanced comedians in the business.

 

 

Growing up in Syracuse, Jessimae Peluso was quite a precocious child, describing herself as always being “so extra.” Turning seemingly Kodak moments into fart jokes as a child, Peluso always enjoyed making people laugh whenever she could. At a very young age, she developed a persona, “The Closet Lady,” that she would use to entertain her sister. She attributes her love of comedy to her father, who loved watching stand up specials and comedy movies. She was exposed to the greats: Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder, Robin Williams, and Paula Poundstone (listen to find out about her own encounter with Poundstone). In addition, her mother would lend a sense of dry sarcasm to her humor range.

“The thing about comedy is if you have some conviction, it goes a long way.” — Jessimae Peluso
Feeling like Syracuse would be a dead end for her, Peluso moved to Boston at eighteen. She recalls working retail and feeling like she could be doing so much more, when a coworker encouraged her to do comedy. Up to that point, no one had encouraged her to pursue her natural comedic gift. Peluso recounts, “Environment is so pertinent to your choice and your ability to know what your potential can be.” She knew living in a small town with limited access to education and culture would keep her from growing. In Boston, she began taking writing and improv classes and working up to a five-minute set. After Boston, she was off to New York City to focus on stand up. Within a year, Peluso was focused and driven to hone her comedy into a career. From bars and road gigs to memorial services, she paid her dues to the comedy world, stating, “The thing about comedy is if you have some conviction, it goes a long way.”

Those dues would pay off, landing her two seasons as a favorite on MTV’s Girl Code followed by the E! Network beckoning her to LA with an offer she couldn’t refuse. The LA comedy scene has proven more challenging because of market saturation and commuting, so Peluso is grateful for her start in Boston and New York. She is very aware and fascinated by how the #metoo movement is changing the industry. To listen to Peluso speak, she is so analytical of not only the industry, but has an amazing self-awareness of her career and the drive and momentum it takes to continue to grow.

Hosting her two podcasts Sharp Tongue, and the new Highlarious launching on the date of this interview (4/20 of course), Jessimae Peluso also hosts a Facebook live show, Weedsday, to educate people on the medicinal benefits of cannabis. She also works to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, a disease which now affects her own father. In fact, if you attend her weekly Weedsday broadcast, you’ll find a donate button which raises money for www.alz.org/endalz/ .  With such a balance of hilarity and activism, it’s no wonder the entire Comedy Wham crew fell in love with Jessimae Peluso at this year’s Moontower Comedy Festival. She says she’s always been “so extra,” but we think she’s so extraordinary.

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Jessimae Peluso

Lara Smith

Valerie Lopez

Comedy Wham