[Q and A with ] BRETT BUTLER

Q and A with ...

FYI: pop culture news

November 06, 2003|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,Sun Staff

Brett Butler, a tough comedian made famous by both her Southern drawl and sardonic wit, will perform today through Sunday at the Baltimore Improv (tickets are $20-$22) and Monday at the Birchmere in Alexandria (tickets are $25).

Now clean and sober after years of substance abuse, Butler, star of the 1990s sitcom Grace Under Fire, chatted with LIVE from her home in Los Angeles and took stock of life, one laugh at a time.

Of all of the things that you have done -- sitcoms, stand-up comedy and writing -- what is your favorite?

I really love all of them, but writing is probably the thing that has the most surprises left for me, in a good way. [But] I really enjoy acting and I enjoy comedy so much because it's the one that "brung" me.

What is the best part about doing stand-up?

Taking the stage and knowing that I can make them laugh for most of an hour. That feels pretty good. It's something that I've always wanted to do, and I can do it pretty good.

When I've already got them laughing ... I'm thinking, 'You don't even know what's coming next, because I'm going to make the drink come out of your nose.'

What made you leave the South and head for New York City to become a comedian?

Have you ever been to the South? There was no place for me. I felt more universal than my neighborhood. I'm a big-city person.

Do you have to disguise yourself when you go in public, or can you still walk the streets fairly unrecognized?

I tried the thing with the baseball hat and sunglasses early on in fame. But as soon as I open my mouth, people know who it is.

This is your sixth year of sobriety. What made you go clean?

I wondered what people would tell my nieces and nephews about why Aunt Brett died. That was my clarion call.

Do your best moments and material come from times when you feel uncomfortable?

I think the best everything in my life comes from a sense of static doom, and then I just end up moving forward.

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