With quick wit that could make even the most serious person crack up, a Trail native is heading to New York to hone her comedic craft and maybe even hit the big time.
Lisa Colangeli (Douglas) was born and raised in the hills of West Trail and many people in town will probably recognize her husky voice and fast talking banter when she drops into town for a visit.
She currently resides in Calgary but makes frequent trips back to Trail to check in with her family and gallivant with hometown friends.
But in three weeks, the budding comic is packing up her bag of tricks and flying from cow town to the Big Apple and embarking on a 12-month journey into the performing arts at the American Comedy Institute.
“I was born and raised in West Trail on the wrong side of the tracks,” she laughed. “Sometimes I think I’m nuts for doing this, but I’ve always looked after my family and not left much time for myself. So I’m going to take this from here and see what happens.”
Colangeli first dabbled into improv at the New York school’s one-week stand-up workshop earlier in March, and the culmination of five days of instruction led to a one-night gig at the famous Gotham Comedy Club in the city’s Chelsea district.
“I got up on stage and it went fine because I talked about the Oscars and things I know,” said Colangeli.
The award show aired a month before her stand-up act, which led to natural fodder and a joke about the famous and ageing actress, Goldie Hawn.
The red-haired funny lady told the audience that she was always a big fan of Hawn’s performance in the classic ‘Private Benjamin’ movie.
“But when I saw her at the Oscars she looked ridiculous,” said Colangeli, “And I said, ‘Now she could play the part of General Patton.’ She looked like George C. Scott.”
Her wise crack about Hawn and comedic timing had the audience in stitches, and impressed her mentors at the school. Because following her return to Canada, she received a surprise phone call.
Stephen Rosenfield, her New York stand-up teacher was on the other end of the line, asking if she was ready to give comedy a go.
“When I found out that they liked me and invited me back, I went for it. Because at 50 years old, I thought ‘Why not?’”
Pulling from her lifelong obsession with black-and-white film classics, she gave Rosenfield a two- minute monologue during an audition via Skype.
Her Bette Davis rendition from the movie “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” immediately won the seasoned teacher over, and he said “Welcome, we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
The next order of business was finding a place to stay for the year, which in New York proved to be quite a challenge.
“I’m going to be living in Hell’s Kitchen near the school,” she chuckled. “Which I say is the same thing as living in the Gulch.”
This week, Colangeli is in Trail visiting her mother, who still lives on Rossland Avenue, for the last time before leaving for John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sept. 24.
She admits to feeling a bit nervous, but said her family is excited that she is living south of the border for a year.
“Mom’s more nervous, but happy. Because, you know, she thinks I’ll end up on the Nancy Grace show with a toe tag and them asking if anyone knows this crazy redhead,” she laughed.
“But it’s nice to be able to come into my own now and say this is what I can do. It’s a good feeling.”