BWW Interviews: Nora Burns in HOUSE OF TARDS at Stonewall Inn
The acclaimed comedy trio Unitard, with the combined talents of beloved downtown artists Mike Albo, Nora Burns and David Ilku, debuted their latest show HOUSE OF TARDS at the historic Stonewall Inn (53 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village) last fall. One critic called it “the second biggest RIOT the Stonewall has ever seen” when the show returned earlier this year. After multiple extensions, HOUSE OF TARDS will play its final two shows of the spring on Thursday, May 21 and Thursday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m.
For over 15 years, the Unitard trio has performed from coast to coast and points in between, as well as Canada. Collectively and individually they have performed in venues and festivals across the US including: We’re Funny That Way: Toronto, Aspen Comedy festival, Toyota Comedy Festival, Joe’s Pub: NYC, HBO Workspace: LA, PS122: NYC, Highways: LA, SF Sketchfest: San Francisco, Andy Warhol Museum: Pittsburgh, Theater Offensive: Boston, Oberon: Harvard Square Cambridge, The Maui Cultural Center, as well as Portland OR, Seattle WA, Provincetown MA and Columbus OH. Some of their work has been featured on, CNN, Bravo, VH1, Logo TV, and Comedy Central.
Nora Burns is a founding member of Unitard, as well as the Nellie Olesons, and has been seen on stage in New York City venues such as PS122, LaMama, and Joe’s Pub – as well as in venues across the country. She recently performed her first solo show, Honey, I’m Home in NYC and LA. She has appeared in the films Florent: Queen of the Meat Market, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Broken Hearts Club and Boys Life 3, among others. Her television appearances include Logo’s “Wisecrack” comedy show and the “Sandra Bernhard Experience.”
Broadwayworld.com had the opportunity to interview Nora Burns about her career and the Unitard trio.
When did you first realize your gift for comedy?
Like many other performers of a certain age, I was obsessed with “The Carol Burnett Show” as a child, and my best friend and I would put on shows for the whole apartment building. But when I moved to NYC, I didn’t know I could keep doing that kind of comedy. I took some acting classes and went on some auditions, but hated that world . . . So, I was basically just a party girl for a few years. But then I happened to get cast in a gay comedy group called Planet Q and realized I loved writing and performing my own stuff. Eventually some of the other performers and I quit that group and formed the Nellie Olesons. Now I do Unitard, which is like the money shot of comedy for me and I feel very blessed (in a non-angel/spiritual/religious way) to be able to work with these brilliant comic freaks.
Which performers do you enjoy?
How is Unitard distinctive from your other shows?
I love working with Mike Albo and David Ilku! They’re both genius comedians, each with a distinctive voice and style. I feel like we work really well together because we have the same off-beat sensibility but such different styles. We love commenting on culture and politics and artisanal everything. We like to take people out of their comfort zones . . . Humorously, of course.
How have NYC audiences responded to Unitard’s HOUSE OF TARDS?
It’s been great, I think this show has really hit a nerve with people because we’re ragging on things like crazy NYC real estate, and Facebook and Grindr, and stuff a lot of people can relate to, but also keeping it whacky with sketches ranging from Vampire stand-up to junkie talk show hosts.
What next for you?
After our last NYC show on May 28th, we’re going to take this show on the road for a bit, to our usual haunts like Hudson, Provincetown, then back to the West Coast (we debuted the show in LA and San Francisco back in March) and then up to Canada. And hopefully we’ll return to NYC in the fall. I still feel like there’s a big audience here we haven’t reached yet and we want to touch them in titillating places.