The Uncensored Zenobia Del Mar Interview
By TooFar.TV Co-Founder and President Danny Mendlow
I don’t know when or why I added Zenobia Del Mar on Facebook, I accept all friend requests and generally add anyone who seems to be part of the collective comedy game. All I know is as soon as her posts started coming up in my feed, I’ve been laughing. Doubled-over, show my friends, stop scrolling and raise the eyebrows laughing. The girl is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Funny flows out of her 24/7 it seems, and that puts her in a very rare, and very special category of comedian. Patrice O’Neal was one of the only comics that was ever effortlessly funny. Always ‘on’ but never putting it on. A natural, carved from granite, comedy god. No filter, no boundaries, no boss. Funny first, last and always. Zenobia Del Mar seemed to possess those qualities, but there’s a lot of people who are funny / opinionated on Facebook… doesn’t necessarily translate on stage. Even Patrice wasn’t really doing his best work on stage until his latest Special, Elephant In The Room, and posthumously released album, Mr. P. So I was super excited to hear Zenobia’s debut album, Reckless With The Truth, from Dead & Mellow Records – but also went in cautiously optimistic. But boy did she ever deliver. One of the best debut comedy albums of all-time, period. I couldn’t wait to talk to the phenom – and get to the bottom of just how she’s so damn funny.
TOOFAR.TV: Hope it’s ok. I’d like to actually do this over FB messenger because of your improv, off the cuff skills I’d like it to be more conversational and be able to alter my next questions based on your answers. So first question. I had the incredible honour of becoming friends with Barry Crimmins in his final couple years. As someone I see regularly policing the Boston scene on Facebook, it feels like you’ve taken the torch from Barry. How important is the legacy of The Ding Ho and the lore of Boston Comedy to you?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: I just woke from a nap to pee… Can we do this tomorrow? I wanna fall asleep again. I will answer this one.
TOOFAR.TV: Yeah, there’s no timeline for this. No rush, answer whenever ya can and then I’ll ask the next one.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: I found out who Barry was to Boston after he was gone. I actually am not a comedy history fan so I don’t always know. But yeah he did lots for integrity in Boston comedy. That’s forever to be lauded in my book.
TOOFAR.TV: That’s interesting because you embody what he stood for so much. So then, let’s get to the root of things. Who are you? Where’d you come from? Why does comedy matter so much to you? And why’d you come back to Boston and not go all in on L.A. or New York? I know you joke about why on the album, but can you elaborate on your L.A. experience and why you decided to come home and just dominate on home court? (Answer tomorrow or whenever)
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: I’m up now, let’s get lit and do this.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: I’m East Coast tru and tru. I had been in NY last 15 years when I had to move SOMEWHERE… I tried LA. I had just done an open mic and after it was just like “OK. This (comedy) is what I do now.” I never moved to LA FOR comedy, I just wanted to live. But there is no life there. Creeped me OUT. I did two years out West – Vegas and LA. Hated it, so I came back. Got a LOT of work done out there and I have the experience of many different major comedy cities in that short time. I had done comedy in LA, Boston, NYC AND Vegas all within year one. I care about comedy cuz it’s important to do what you’re doing right. And for real. And this is what I do. I don’t need anyone shitting in the pool I have to swim in.
TOOFAR.TV: What are your biggest current things that are pissing you off about comedy in 2020? Whether it’s Comics, Industry, Audiences. What’s currently giving you, as Carlin put it, major psychotic hatreds?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Just NON comedy getting over. Stand up is so damn easy unless it’s not what you know how to do. So when you see some lame doing shock as comedy. Anger AS comedy or just being a prat under the guise of comedy… that pisses me off. Because it’s plain WRONG. Comedy is about communication. I hate when people are at it with nothing to say.
TOOFAR.TV: Right. I think it was Hicks who said “Comedy is a conversation not a monologue.” I remember hearing that and understanding it, but still took forever to actually get to that level of having a conversation with the audience. Always giving and receiving. Who were your mentors coming up? Who did you respect and learn from? Any important lessons stick out from your early years?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Scotty Lombardo came to me after my first set in his room here in Boston and goes “you’re GOOD I want you to get better and not end up bitter like the rest of them.” Had no idea he meant SO many comics I would later encounter… He taught me tons. Most important shit no one TELLS you. You gotta look, learn and listen. Stage presence, holding a room for longer sets. How Reading the room REALLY works. Following a bomb or a killer set… one thing that sticks out for sure is WRITE CLEAN. That’s important across the board. If you can’t write a joke where no one gets high, hit or fucked. YOU can’t write a joke!
TOOFAR.TV: Wow. That’s a PHD out the gate. So for those who don’t know, who’s Scotty Lombardo?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: He is pretty much the Mayor of Boston comedy. To me at least. He ran an open mic I started at and is a comic here in town.
TOOFAR.TV: So how do you personally walk the fine line of staying righteously angry, funny but not falling into the trap of bitterness so many do?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: That is something I battle in real life. So much of what I deal with in life I have to deal with in comedy… I think the funny will always be there for me. The world communicates with me via ridiculousness and then I just talk about it. As for avoiding bitterness… a lot of comics in Boston stay in a sort of echo chamber. Dealing with work as a social extension. I try to keep a broad circle. With Lots of comics who are better than me. Who know things I don’t so my scope won’t seem stunted. Bitterness is something that is fed and grown.
TOOFAR.TV: Amen to that. Are ya Lit yet? What ya smoking tonight?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: I dunno. My buddy gifted it to me. Watching Youtube clips and eating Cadbury eggs. Ya, LIT.
TOOFAR.TV: I have to ask, what’s going through a brilliant, critical and socially analytical mind like yours after the insanity of the last 72 hours or so? Not to mention Corona really stealing your album drop thunder.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Yeah anything social is DONEZO right now. It’s bananas. How easy it is for the media to dictate people’s lives. Not for nothing, but it’s a fucking FLU. It feels like a shake down of the working class. They’re who are going to be bankrupt over this. We do a show at a bar and they said the bar is likely gonna close soon if people stay away longer. It’s fucked man.
TOOFAR.TV: Yeah the whole comedy community is going to have to get creative FAST! We were already planning on rolling out a merchandise section, T-Shirts and things with comic’s writing the material, but now I’m almost afraid to launch it in case it works. Anyone who can figure out a way to make a dollar at home is gonna win pretty much. Although you Americans are way ahead of us Canadians in that regard. Most US comics already ditched the business and went independent it seems but how the fuck can you replace touring and live shows? I’ve seen people proposing live streams with small audiences. So now everyone with a camera and 10 friends is gonna be a YouTube comedian. Sounds like your worst nightmare?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Lol yeah man. Stand up comedy will always be a LIVE medium. I don’t wanna fucking facetime a show. Lots of comics are scrambling because they have to be PEOPLE for a while. That’s not something they know how to do. It’s way easier to be working on your material than working on your shit.
TOOFAR.TV: I love how you speak exclusively in mic drops.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: LOL, I call it Lil Wayne plain.
TOOFAR.TV: Alright so let’s talk about the album. So basically some Boston music producers decided to launch a stand up division and approached you right?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: A Boston comic and his musician buddy yeah. They started Dead N Mellow and asked to produce my album. I was like… Cool.
TOOFAR.TV: And you’re already working on a follow up album. What would you say will be the big difference between the two thematically or stylistically? Reckless With The Truth was to me, in a word, effortlessly funny. Like I know how hard you work at your craft, but you make it sound like you just wandered on stage and shared your morning thoughts. So casual and smooth on the delivery.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: LOL. H Yeah! Next round will be more of the same I expect. I don’t have a plan other than keep working.
TOOFAR.TV: I think the hardest place to get to on stage is that level where the audience or listener feels like we’re just hanging out with you and you’re just holding court. Like Keith Robinson calls it “back of the bus funny” – and as an avid stalker of your Facebook posts, your bus stuff is out of this world funny.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Well THANKS. I legit have ONE voice in my head. He’s always on and he is hilarious. Like a narrator. I really don’t write shit. Big Dick Dominic lives in Lexington. My LA roommate really warned me about cross walk rape. I am just the messenger.
TOOFAR.TV: That’s amazing. I think Burr said he stopped writing awhile ago too. Just learned to write mentally. The narrator is a He though eh?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Yeah. That never seemed odd to me but when I tell people they stick on that it’s a dude. That is in the cards for me tho, Aquarian women have more testosterone than other women. So my inner dialogue always comes out male. I get to say more cuz I’m a woman. And even more as a Negress. As I say Smarts plus lack of fucks. BOSTON. So comedy just comes from here. Bill is the GOAT as far as I am concerned. True evolution in the work. Growth as a person. I don’t think Pryor ever got to show us that even.
TOOFAR.TV: And here you said you weren’t into comedy history 🙂 Who else is in the conversation for you? The GOAT conversation that is.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Bill. Sebastian Maniscalco, Chris Rock. All outstanding. Of the famous ones most people know. Marc Maron. I saw him in LA. His shit is just magic. Like being entranced. The way he just starts talking and opens up SO much in your own brain. Angelo Lozada was perhaps the most electric comic I have ever seen work. He’s gone. He was an awesome friend and mentor to me in the short time I knew him
TOOFAR.TV: Yeah I caught Maron at JFL42 in the fall… that new hour is… yeah, talk about evolution. So what were you like as a kid? Did you want to be a performer at all? Was comedy a goal or something you just fell into?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: No. I am SO not the ‘always wanted to be a comic’ comic. My problem is I see everything all the time. I figured out pretty early most things are either silly or dangerous. So I been working on getting through it. Point A to B with the least amount of turmoil. And amuse myself so I don’t become homicidal. A is now. B is death.
TOOFAR.TV: That’s what I figured. Most comics seem to start as fanatics. But you’re a rare exception. Coming at this from a different place. What was the series of events that led you up on Scotty Lombardo’s stage that first time?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: I had done a mic in NY while I was visiting after I left my place. And it was just ok… I’m a comic. So I came home to Boston to settle some stuff with my family so I kept doing mics. I met him then. Was in Boston for like 2 months then left for LA.
TOOFAR.TV: Right. But what where you doing before comedy? And why did you decide to do it?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: I had done a bunch of jobs. I had been working for PBS in marketing. Then Trader Joes. Wide range of crap. I had thought about comedy a lil… and really it was a Tuesday and my buddy asked what I was doing later… and I go ‘Imma go do this mic.”
TOOFAR.TV: And when you were younger what did you think you were gonna be when you grew up? What were your original dreams?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: To not become bitter. I still pretty much only have that one goal. I’m glad I woke up. I had to eat dinner. At 3am.
TOOFAR.TV: Oh fuck I’m an asshole. I just moved back to the west coast and am not even thinking about what time it is for you. Lemme wrap this up.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Lol. I stay napping so I have odd hours. I’m up til dawn now likely. It’s called Second Sleep.
TOOFAR.TV: Alright, enough escapism. If this is the Zombie Apocalypse and / or beginning of a dystopian nightmare future. Which movie are we about to live through and how are you going to keep moving from point A to point B, surviving n thriving?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: I dunno which movie it is. I’m scared of zombie and horror movies. I think I’m gonna end up living in the woods of Maine somewhere. In a commune with hippies who know how to distill rainwater and grow amazing weed. The water wars are 1000% coming. They will take out anyone who doesn’t fall in the opioid onslaught. Humans need water. That will be the reckoning. By then hopefully I will have some of that stuff Cersi had when they stormed the castle and she was about to off herself and the kids. I’m A-OK with checking out when it’s time to.
TOOFAR.TV: Hey I’m writing you from Vancouver Island where I grew up. Hippies everywhere. That’s why I’m back. You’re 1000% right… soon as I saw Nestle draining all the water in Ontario and Canadians didn’t even care I ran the fuck outta dodge! You’re welcome here anytime though. I got people that been living in the woods their whole lives.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Allies! When Nestle said “Water is not a human right” 10 years ago. I knew the shit was gonna get real. That is some Bond villian type evil. That’s why LA is so wild. No Water. Constant fire. But it’s SUNNY. Shit is like the Twilight Zone. That and I think LA is a Hellmouth. Like ACTUAL feeding ground for souls. So. Nah. LA comedy does not pay either. Another reason I haven’t gone back.
TOOFAR.TV: Yeah I don’t know how a lot of comics even survive there. Actors too. Lot of people falling between the cracks for sure. It’s really just oppulence along the beach and then a gigantic rest of the state is ravaged with poverty.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: That’s where all those homeless come from. People legit get stuck and stranded out there.
TOOFAR.TV: With no infrastructure. And soon to be no Water. No wonder all they make is Zombie movies and shows now.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: LA. Lowered Aptitude. It’s like a mental time warp. San Diego was ok. I guess. But still… no.
TOOFAR.TV: Back to the land. It’s time to GTFO the cities. Shit bout to go down. Although I think this particular batch of shit you can’t hide from. Dark days ahead.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Yup. Retreat into nature. That’s why I live where the water is. And where you can walk to the next place. So long as my family doesn’t have to fight for water. I will be fine. I can run and I can climb. And I have no food allergies.
TOOFAR.TV: I hear roast open micer is delicious.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: I’d rather eat the radioactive fish.
TOOFAR.TV: Well I think I’ve got lots of great stuff here. I’m gonna crash. Any Jerry Springer final thoughts?
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Smoke weed. Eat fruit.
TOOFAR.TV: You’re a treat. On stage and off. Thanks for all the time.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: Fuck Yeah. Hit me up if you think of something else you wanna know. Looking forward to reading the piece.
TOOFAR.TV: Will do. I could just keep going for hours with you but probably best to cut off now and then we can check in with you regularly. That narrator always feeding you great lines.
ZENOBIA DEL MAR: He never shuts up. Now I’m full of Salisbury steak.
So that was our raw and uncut chat with Zenobia Del Mar. The new Queen of Boston Comedy. Continuing a long, glorious tradition of world-class Boston Comedians who don’t give a flying fuck about the business or the gatekeepers and keep it real, keep it honest, and keep it funny first, always. As the world burns, it’s always good to know that Boston Comedy is in good hands. We’re gonna need it.