By MIKE CHAIKEN
Podcasts are the new frontier of comedy.
And comedian Sarah Tiana has planted her flag twice in this performance universe.
Tiana, who is coming to Connecticut this coming week, can be found on the podcasts “Fried” and “Riggle’s Picks.”
Tiana’s foray into this comedy universe began when she was a guest on a friend’s podcast.
The network that handled that podcast asked Tiana if she was interested in her own podcast.
Initially, however, Tiana said she was on the fence about doing a podcast.
But Tiana said she changed her mind after she did Brad Paisley’ Comedy Rodeo on Netflix.
She said she came up with the idea of creating a podcast about being from the South and family. That developed into “Fried,” which pairs her up with John Reep.
Then she found herself hosting a second podcast when she was called up by her comedy friend Rob Riggle. Tiana already knew Riggle because she had produced and wrote a segment for him for a roast of actor Rob Lowe. They also worked together a few times on segments on Fox Sports. They also had a lot of mutual friends.
Thus was born, “Riggle’s Picks.”
This podcast often finds the two talking sports, Tiana said, but that wasn’t necessarily the intended focus “We could talk about anything,” said Tiana. “But sports is the number one thing we have in common.”
“Sports is definitely a big passion for us. We can great really heated.”
One of the challenges of a podcast is there is no audience for that immediate feedback, said Tiana. So you don’t know if your funny is really funny. But the hosts do make each other laugh, she said, and they just hope other people are laughing as well.
Another challenge is time, said Tiana. “We’re both (she and Riggles) extremely busy and it’s hard to set up a time (to record).” Sometimes, she said, they will film extra podcasts when they do find themselves in the same location. For instance, she and Riggles found themselves working the same charity event. So they brought the podcast equipment and knocked out segments location.
In addition to the podcasts, Tiana does mostly stand-up. However, she has made a few ventures intt television (“Reno 911,” “Crashing”). Tiana said she would like to do more television but she said in the entertainment business, you seek out gigs that are consistent. Both the podcasts and standup fall into that category.
With television performances, Tiana said she often finds herself on the job for one day. Even writing for television, she may only work for two to three weeks before the job is finished. Then she is waiting for the next gig to come along.
To make the gaps between gigs much shorter, Tiana is taking her own intiatitive to get television and filmwork. She has been writing her own scripts. So far, she has written four to five movie scripts and three to four televisions series that she has been trying to market.
Tiana’s background doesn’t scream “stand-up comedian potential.” She studied theater in France at the Sorbonne and the Comedie Del Arte. She graduated from Georgia State University, cum laude, in May 2000 with a bachelors of arts and sciences degree as a film major, theater minor.
It’s not the typical route to making people laugh.
“I’m still learning about why I do stand-up,” said Tiana. When she is before an audience, she said she “can’t believe people are interested in this.”
Growing up, said Tiana, she definitely didn’t plan on being a standup comedian.
“I didn’t know what it was. I never saw it live,” said Tiana.
She also was under the misconception that she had to have a television show to do standup. She didn’t know that many comedians used standup as a launching pad into television rather than the other way around.
“I didn’t understand how it works,” said Tiana.
Plus, said Tiana, “It never occurred to me I was funny or that anyone could do stand up.”
In a way, said Tiana, her lack of knowledge proved to be an advantage. While some comedians may model themselves on their stand-up heroes, and come off as mere copies, Tiana didn’t have any heroes to mimic.
“I would just do my own thing,” said Tiana.
These days, when the world is in a perpetual state of being offended, comedians find themselves walking a politically correct tight rope.
Tiana said comedy is quickly becoming the last form of free speech. “We’re trying to hold on to that.”
People don’t understand that there is a difference between a joke and an attack, said Tiana.
“For me,” said Tiana, “sarcasm and exploring stereotypes (and making them ridiculous) is funny because stereotyes aren’t facts… When you treat them as facts, you’re part of the problem.”
If you’re offended, said Tiana, “You’re not listing to the joke, you’re listening for trigger words… People are worried about not looking offended.”
And she noted, “Not listening is what got us into this problem in the first place.”
When fans come to Comix at Mohegan Sun, Tiana said they can expect “a lot of me making fun of myself,joking about being a 40 year old woman in the modern day.”
“I’m a little bit more conservative,” said Tiana. “I’m not dirty. I try to be witty, clever, and fun.”
Sarah Tiana performs at Comix at Mohegan Sun Thursday, June 21 through Saturday, June 23 performance are 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Saturday.
Tickets start at $15. For tickets, go to http://www.comixmohegansun.com/