Sherry Davey is a little older and a little wiser, and as a result has cleaned up her act.
Oh, she might throw out the F word every now and then, but jokes about her “mental penis” and the “big black fist of fury” have been put away and probably won’t be heard from again.
“Those are old bits that I can’t believe are still on the Internet,” said Davey, who will be one of four comedians making up the “First Night of Funny” Friday night at The Palace Theatre in Albany.
“I’m more a Nick at Nite person now. Those were my Comedy Central days where they wanted us to be naughty and I was. I was awful.”
Davey didn’t undergo any major transformation. She’s just a different person now than she was five or 10 years ago.
“I think your comedy, especially stand-up, reflects what’s going on in your life,” she said. “I’m a mother now, and my stand-up reflects that. Back then, I was newly married and in a different time and place. I’m not the same person now.”
‘First Night of Funny’
WHERE: Palace Theatre, 19 Clinton St., Albany
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday
HOW MUCH: $22 in advance, $32 day of event
MORE INFO: 465-3334 or www.palacealbany.com
Davey grew up in both England and America, and while she hasn’t shed her British accent just yet, she calls the U.S. home.
“I think of myself as American with an English sensibility,” said Davey, who recently moved from Brooklyn to a house on Long Island with her husband and two children.
“I feel very much American, and this is where my heart is. My dad was actually Hungarian, so I feel very much a part of the American immigrant experience. I guess I feel like I have an English heart but an American soul.”
She has been doing stand-up for 14 years, and before that she was producing and performing in “women’s shows” throughout the New York City area.
“I had a feminine Nazi period when all I was doing involved stuff that was directed, written and acted by women,” she said. “My mom told me, ‘You’re like one step away from stand-up. Why don’t you just take that step?’ I guess stand-up is where I needed to be.”
Her mother also reminded her that her grandfather, Maxwell Lapham, was a stand-up comic.
“When I was a little kid, he was still performing, and he was more of a storyteller,” remembered Davey. “He’d tell a joke, sing a song, and he’d be up there with a cigarette and a drink in his hand, just like Dean Martin. He was very elegant, and a very big, and very funny, influence on me.”
Although Davey did make the leap to stand-up, she did return to the theater stage in 2007 and had some pretty good off-Broadway success with a play called “Jewish American Princess.”
“It was a great play, and we did go on tour for a while,” she said. “We delved into the history of Jewish female comedy, and it was a full play, but it was more like doing stand-up within a play. It was almost like a biopic of great Jewish comediennes like Totie Fields and Belle Barth.”
Davey says she grew up half Jewish and half Catholic, which wasn’t easy.
“It was very confusing, and now I bring my lawyer to confession,” she said. “We had a menorah on top of our Christmas tree growing up. We were confused as kids. We could have grown up to be Buddhists.”
Life is a little hectic at the moment for Davey. Her husband recently lost his position with a Wall Street firm and is back in school training to become a nurse. They have a 7-year-old of their own and only recently adopted a 13-year-old. Both are girls.
“That first day she showed us love by hooking up the printer to our computer, which I thought was amazing,” said Davey. “So I said, ‘She’s staying.’ My husband was in the mortgage analyst business, and you can imagine what that industry is like now. I told him, ‘This is a great moment to totally change your life,’ and that’s what he did. We’ve been forced to downsize a bit, and for now I’m the major breadwinner for the family. I’m working three or four nights a week, pretty regularly, so we’re doing OK.”
Much of her stand-up routine these days centers on the economy.
“My husband and I have had to become real good with money,” she said. “Without him working, we don’t have health insurance. But I do have car insurance, so whenever I don’t feel well, I just get in my car and go out and hit someone. I can go to the ER, check on a few things, maybe get a mammogram.
“However, I am optimistic about the economy,” she said. “Things can’t get much worse, so they have to be on their way up. People were living beyond their means, and now they have to deal with the new reality. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Things will get better.”
Along with keeping busy in the New York area, she recently returned from a second trip to the Middle East, where she performed at the Al Hussein Cultural Center in Amman, Jordan.
“I think they need to laugh over there, and comedy, at this point, is where it was in the U.S. in the 1950s,” she said. “It’s very exciting to be there and to see comedy catch fire. In Jordan, things are a bit more progressive and they really seem to embrace it.”
Davey indulged in a few cultural battles head-on, but conceded that at times she had to tone things down a bit.
“I talked to the men in the audience, and I tell them I’m trying to cure them,” she said. “I was doing comedy therapy, and we were sold out every night, so I think they were embracing me. They do have the morals police, for sure, but I feel like anytime you go somewhere and push the envelope a little bit, you’re making it easier for the next person.”
She has another Middle East trip lined up, this one to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
“They really want me over there, but I have to get a special license for Saudi Arabia,” she said. “I also have to type up my routine ahead of time and it has to be approved. There are things I won’t be able to do there, but it doesn’t really rub me the wrong way that much. I might improvise a little bit, and if I screw up I’ll tell them I forgot my script.”
Davey, who has played in Albany and Saratoga before, is looking forward to her Palace Theatre outing.
“It’s a great forum, and they won’t be pushing alcohol there, which is nice. Comedy clubs are great, but this is a different kind of event, and it’s great that the audience will be sober. They’re coming to see the show, and that’s good.”
Others in the show
Sharing the stage with Davey will be Syracuse native John DiCrosta, who spent two decades, including his high school years, living in Schenectady, along with Ross Bennett and Buddy Fitzpatrick.
“We’re from four different walks of life with four different perspectives,” said Davey. “The guys are a lot of fun.”