Earlier this year tragedy struck New York comedian (and South Carolina native) Liza Dye when she was hit by a subway train and nearly lost a leg. Liza’s story spread quickly within the comedy community, and gained national attention when comics like Aziz Ansari and Chelsea Paretti helped draw attention to her cause, with benefit shows and sharing the link to make donations to help with medical costs. Although Liza was uninsured, over $75,000 was raised. You might remember this story in The New York Times or even The State. Upon being released from the hospital in New York, Liza returned to South Carolina to continue recovering. Now she is on the mend and will be performing in her hometown of Spartanburg. I emailed a few Q’s to Liza to catch up with her and promote the show.
Justin Thompson: How did you come to find yourself performing stand-up in NYC? Did you move start stand-up there? Did you move for other purposes originally?
Liza Dye: I studied Theatre Performance at the College of Charleston and moved to New York in 2012 to really focus on acting. I never did comedy in college or ever so it was all very new to me (and still is). I started researching a lot of cool actors that had a comedic presence like Aubrey Plaza and Donald Glover. They all had one thing in common — they studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. So I started taking classes at UCB and performing there regularly. First at the open mics and then once my name got a little buzz, I began getting booked on shows. Now I have something cool in common with those exact people that I researched…we ironically have the same manager.
JT: How is the recovery process going?
LD: The recovery process is very hard. My plastic surgeons in New York all warned me that physical therapy would be the hardest part of the entire process and it definitely is. It’s very aggressive and painful but I’m determined to walk by the end of this year so hopefully I will meet my goal. Every time I read an article about Tracy Morgan it is literally the same exact scenario for me. I’m trying to contact him to setup a race with our walkers.
JT:Are you very anxious to perform again?
LD: I’m not really anxious to perform again. This week, my mom has been asking me if I’m excited for the show, I don’t think any comedian ever gets “excited” to do standup per say…to me, I feel like it’s sort of something that I kind of dread coming but once it’s happening and I’m onstage and people are laughing, it feels great in the moment but it’s even better once it’s over if you’ve done a great job…ha.
JT:Will this show be your first time performing in Spartanburg?
LD: This will be my first time doing stand-up in Spartanburg, however, I’ve been acting since I was 15 so I have performed in several plays at the David Reid Playhouse as well as [in the very first play] at the Chapman Cultural Center. [A Midsummer Night’s Dream dir. by John Fagaon…I played Helena]
JT:Do you have a lot of family and friends who haven’t seen you yet?
LD: Seen me like just me as a person since I’ve been back from New York? I’ve pretty much seen most of my close friends and family since I’ve been home doing physical therapy. A lot of people got together and had a big welcome home party for me when I arrived in South Carolina from New York once I got out of the hospital…they were all waiting at the entrance to my neighborhood with a big sign that said “Welcome Home, Liza!” they had balloons and everything, it was really great to see everyone.
[If the question was meant to ask if this will be my family and friends’ first time seeing me perform then the answer is yes.] Most of my local friends and family have never seen me perform live, only my online content.
JT: Do you draw from your experience in the south as a source for material?
LD: I most definitely am inspired by the south and southern living for my standup material. My first five or so standup shows in New York, about 80% of my jokes were about how much better southern living is than northern living. I had a list of reasons that I would talk about why New York sucks. It was mostly based on weather.
JT: How did it feel when you saw all of the support for you coming from such well-respected comics?
LD: It still feels very surreal. Just yesterday, there was a lot of buzz online about it being Amy Poehler’s birthday. I remembered that I had her number and could actually text her Happy Birthday and she immediately responded. It’s wild to just be watching my favorite television shows and realize that I can contact the person that is making me laugh on my television any time I want. Life is crazy. I’m so grateful to still have it!
JT: Have you been writing much to pass the time?
LD: I pretty much haven’t stopped writing since my accident. I wrote everyday when I was in the hospital and did two shows in New York once I was discharged just to kind of get rid of all that material that I thought of in the hospital as well as stuff that I was working on before. I’m writing a lot now — I’m working on a pilot and a book.
JT: What kind of music have you been listening to lately? What movies have you been watching?
LD: I love music so I’m constantly all over the place (music wise), but right now I’m revisiting a lot of MGMT. I love 1960’s country music like Connie Francis and Skeeter Davis…I think I was born with the soul of an old, southern white woman…which probably explains why I love being in the south so much. It’s very confusing because on the exterior, I couldn’t be further from an old, southern white woman. I also keep a steady rotation of #Bangerz, Yeezus and Ultraviolence and I do love the #BEENTRILL# mixtapes.
Movies: I’m patiently waiting for The Skeleton Twins nationwide release. Hopefully it will be at The Nick in Columbia soon. I’m also really excited about a film that a friend of mine directed called Dear White People. That will be in theaters October 17th.
JT: What’s the next step for you after you done recovering?
LD: I have no idea what my next step is once my recovery process is completed. When I was in the hospital, everything was so touch and go; whether I would need more surgeries or not, whether I would get to keep my leg or not…so, since then, I’ve really learned to just take life day by day. I don’t know if I’ll go back to New York or move to Los Angeles or even stay in South Carolina. For now I’m just focusing on writing, preparing for my half hour stand-up and most importantly walking.
Thanks again to Liza for the interview. Catch Liza tonight (9/18) at The Speakeasy, in Spartanburg at 10pm. No Cover.
Also on the show will be other local comics Jason Farr, Wayne Cousins, Joey Massaro, John Gibson and host Camilo Potes.
392 E Saint John St. Spartanburg, SC 29302