Call her crazy, but Maureen Cassidy doesn’t think landing her own sitcom represents the Holy Grail of standup comedy.
“It’s such a gamble,” she says. “David Spade is really smart, because he chose to have his role (on ‘Just Shoot Me’) vs. having a show written about him or around him, and he comes off looking great. I’m a big supporter of ensemble work.”
Ironically, standup provided the break Cassidy needed when the ensemble work she trained for as an actor proved too inconspicuous.
“I guess it reflects the times that we live in,” says the native New Yorker. “Attention spans are really short. Industry people would rather go to a night of standup and see 10 people in an hour than sit through an Off Broadway show for an hour and a half.”
Fortunately, Cassidy’s versatility has allowed her to punch her own ticket (her resume skills range from writing and singing to scooter riding and cigarette smoking). Her appearance at the 1997 Just for Laughs fest in Montreal prompted CBS executives to corral her into a development deal.
When the pilot she wrote, “Hell’s Kitchen,” didn’t get made, she took matters into her own hands, writing and starring in a film she made with her sister, “Star 69,” which played at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in 1998. Two years later, she won the best alternative/sketch award at the same event. In between, she became a series regular on the NBC midseason replacement show “Everything’s Relative.”
But it’s when Cassidy flies solo that she shines brightest. In her one-woman show, “Loud Little Girl,” Cassidy uses her Catholic upbringing to deal with themes like guilt and sexual repression.
“That’s my thing — coming from shame but really coming across as shameless, if that makes sense,” she says.