The Hippo


Jun 26, 2019








Jenny Zigrino. Courtesy photo.

Jenny Zigrino

Hosted by Nick Lavallee 
When: Wednesday, Feb. 1, 9 p.m.
Where: Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester
Tickets: $5 at

J-Z in the MHT
Bad Santa 2 comic Jenny Zigrino headlines Shaskeen

By Michael Witthaus

 Success as a standup comic is often a three-stop journey. First, become a star on the local circuit; next, move to New York City. With a sufficiently toned comedy muscle, the final destination is often Los Angeles. Jenny Zigrino made it to the West Coast a bit faster than most. 

Minnesota-born, Zigrino spent five years in Boston, much of it as a warmup act for the Rogue Burlesque dance troupe. After relocating, she quickly won a spot in the 2014 reality series Funniest Win, finishing as a runner-up — and Hollywood came calling.
“My manager was like, ‘OK, it’s time to move out here,’” Zigrino recalled in a recent phone interview. “It kind of seemed fast, but I’m also having a great career out here.”
Indeed. She’s in her third year as a headliner; as she talked, she was preparing for a three-night stand at Rooster T. Feathers, a NorCal club that’s hosted Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGeneres and Bob Saget, among others. In May 2015, she appeared on Conan and killed it, talking about dating a landlord who looked like Jesus a little too much and riffing on body image. The plus-size comic once promised to make eating disorders the new airplane jokes.
The Conan slot served as a turning point for Zigrino.
“It was everything you dream of as a comedian happening,” she said. “Even though there are so many different outlets now, when you do that first late night, it’s like, ‘Yep, I’ve done it! First real moment of wow, I’m actually doing this.”
2016 was Zigrino’s biggest year yet. She had roles in the parody comedy 50 Shades of Black and appeared with the cast as a panelist on the Comedy Central program @Midnight. She landed a part in Bad Santa 2, receiving great notices, and her recording debut, J-Z’s New Album, should be out by spring. 
When she started out at age 21, Zigrino’s primary goal was to be on television within five years. 
“I was lucky enough to get Funniest Win,” she said. “So that happened, and now I have a vision board.”
Zigrino’s mantra is, work constantly and write in longhand — advice from Bad Santa 2 star Billy Bob Thornton. 
“It’s simple, but it really works,” she said. “When I write jokes on a computer, they’re never as good … I’ve taken to doing outlines of screenplays or other ideas by hand first, and that helps me sort it out in my brain.”
Another tip came from 50 Shades of Black star Marlon Wayans, who told her, “If it’s what you want to do, you have to do it every day.” Living in Los Angeles, it comes naturally for Zigrino. ‘The hustle here is a different kind of hustle from New York,” she said. “Here, I’m hustling for production meetings, casting, acting, writing, standup, as well as doing different weird variety shows.”
She’s doing a lot more writing, pitching projects to Paul Fieg and others. Transitioning away from the stage is easy for Zigrino, who majored in screenwriting at Mass Art College. 
“Standup is just storytelling,” she said. “I’ve been writing since my childhood, from making comic books to writing songs to telling stories, so it kind of feels like a pretty natural progression.”
A part of Zigrino will always reside in Boston, particularly her memories of telling jokes while burlesque girls disrobed. 
“I learned a lot from those women about confidence, performance, about really putting it out there,” she said. “They were just amazing. A comic’s on stage telling a joke while they literally stripped down, and it’s funny when they do it, and confident, and beautiful.  I owe a lot of who I am now as a comic to those three years working with that show in Boston.”

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