Ali Macofsky

Ali Macofsky got into comedy because of sibling rivalry, Ryan Seacrest and prank calls

The California comic told us about her strange path into the industry.

California standup comic, actress and writer Ali Macofsky has been in “show business” since the age of seven when she would join Ryan Seacrest on KIIS FM every weekday morning and prank-call listeners as her character “Lil Ally.”

Taylor Noakes: I noticed you do a lot of deadpan comedy, so who are some of your comedic inspirations?

Ali Macofsky: That’s a good question. You know, it’s funny. I mean, I think that, naturally, my voice is just kind of monotone and deadpan. But like, growing up, I really loved watching Chelsea Handler, Kathy Griffin, Dane Cook. I feel like I was attracted to a lot of high energy performers, maybe because I am so different from that, but it’s, like, really fun to watch. My voice just kind of is what it is.

TN: I think I read on your Wikipedia page that you started—

Ali Macofsky: I have a Wikipedia page?!

TN: I may have invented that. Anyway, I read somewhere that you got started in comedy as a kid prank-calling people on Ryan Seacrest’s KIIS FM show in Los Angeles?

Ali Macofsky: Me and my sisters would listen to the radio as we got ready for school — and it’s like a popular radio station where I grew up — and then one day I was like, “I want to call in, I want to say something on the radio!” And I asked my sister to give me the phone number and she wouldn’t, but she tried calling in and she didn’t get in. And then my dad took her to school and I hit redial on the phone. And I, like, immediately got through and I had no game plan. So I asked my other sister, I’m like, “What do we say? What do I ask for?” And my older sister was like, “Just ask for Britney Spears tickets.” I’m like, “Can I get Britney Spears tickets?” And it’s Ryan Seacrest who’s the host of this radio station, so I ask him, humbly, for Britney Spears tickets, and he asked me if I’ll sing a Britney Spears song. And I was like six or seven years old at the time. So I’m just singing “Toxic” by Britney Spears, and once I finished singing, he’s like, “We don’t have Britney Spears tickets, but we do have American Idol tickets.” And I was like, “Well, I’ll only go if they’re VIP.” And they were very curious about who this seven-year-old was at home alone asking for Britney Spears tickets. So they gave me a job for about four years making prank phone calls for them.

TN: That’s incredible. So did you know that you wanted to be a comedian before this happened, or was that just sort of your, like, weird falling ass-backwards into it way of entering the industry?

Ali Macofsky: No way, I mean, even making prank phone calls on the radio, I didn’t realize that was a job, until I was able to go to college using the money that was saved from that. I think being able to do that made me realize that I didn’t have to get a typical job, and that there are weird jobs available out there. Then when I was in high school I would go to comedy shows all the time, and I didn’t even realize that was a job. I thought the people who were on stage performing just got like really lucky and someone, you know, someone saw them tell a funny story and were like, “Come perform at my comedy club.” And so once I realized that they all just like wrote those jokes and prepared, and it is a job — and anyone, you know, quote unquote, can do it — I was in.

TN: Do you remember your first show as a standup?

Ali Macofsky: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

TN: Alright, tell me about it.

Ali Macofsky: Well, when my sister would pick me up from elementary school, we’d listen to this Dane Cook album, and then he was performing at the Laugh Factory and I went to go see him. And after the show I went to go see him in the back and I said to him, “I want to be a comedian. I’m not even old enough to be in this club, but I want to do it, how do I start? What do I even write about?” And he was like, “Just go home, write down whatever you think is funny, and come up with three minutes of material. And then come to the open mic at the Laugh Factory on Tuesdays.” I was fired up after that conversation, and so, when I got home, I just started writing and I went to the Laugh Factory the following Tuesday and tried to sign up for the open mic. It was a pretty ill-attended. It was pretty much just the other people who had signed up for the open mic, and some tourists. I have the footage from that night somewhere, and one day I might release it. But it’s pretty horrible to watch.

TN: How old were you?

Ali Macofsky: 17 years old.

TN: How did you convince yourself to keep going after a brutal first time?

Ali Macofsky: Well, to be honest, I didn’t. I didn’t do it again after that open mic for like, a year and a half. I went to college for a year, but I knew that I wanted to do standup. I stopped going to classes pretty quickly. Everyone would be like, “What’s your major?” at this party. And people would say business or communications, and I was like, “I’m going to be a standup comedian!” And everyone was like, “Okay?” Once I went home after deciding to leave college, I needed to get rid of my fear of performing. So I went to this drop-in improv class. I left the class early, and when I was leaving, I went to this coffee shop to go get coffee and the coffee shop had an open mic and I was like ‘This is a sign!’ And so I just like, stayed at that coffee shop,  signed up for the open mic and have been doing it ever since. ■

OFFJFL presents Ali Macofsky at Théâtre Sainte-Catherine (264 Ste-Catherine E.) on Saturday, July 29, 8:30 p.m., $38. Just for Laughs ComedyPRO presents Resting Bitch with Ali Macofsky at DoubleTree Ovation Room on Saturday, July 29, 1:45 p.m., $29

For more Montreal comedy coverage, please visit the Comedy section.