Cass Tech High graduate, Loni Love, is one of the nation’s funniest and hardest working comics. Both Variety and Comedy Central have named her among their Top 10 Comics to Watch. Loni is also a busy TV host, guest, and actress who has appeared in numerous films and dramatic plays.
In 2009 Loni became a CNN correspondent for the show D.L. Hughley Breaks the News, covering the inauguration of President Barak Obama as well as doing correspondence for the Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors. Currently she can be seen as a regular panelist on Chelsea Lately and TruTV’s Presents: The World’s Dumbest. Her first one-hour special for Comedy Central, America’s Sister, premiered in 2010, and is now available on DVD.
BMN: Many people might be surprised to learn that you had an automotive career, before one in an entertainment. When did you start working at General Motors?
LONI: After I graduated from high school I actually worked on an assembly line. I met some engineers and that’s when I decided to become an engineer. That’s what made me actually decide to go to college was working on the line and meeting the engineers. I was really impressed with them, and I knew that was something I was interested in.
BMN: At what point did you know you wanted to do something else?
LONI: I started doing comedy while I was in college, but I went on ahead and got my degree anyway ‘cause I had a scholarship by that time. It wasn’t until I graduated and then I moved to L.A. that I got into my field and I was doing OK, but I just wanted to do something different. I had always been doing stand-up on the side. Then one day I went to a comedy club, just as an audience member, and I only saw that there was like one female doing stand-up, and I just thought that it was odd that there weren’t more females doing it. So that was what really made me get into doing stand-up professionally. Because I wanted to, you know, make a difference. That’s what actually made the change for me into entertainment from engineering, but I enjoyed being an engineer too…that’s what I tell students when I do colleges and stuff, that you can start off doing something and you can always change your career. It doesn’t mean you have to stay in there.
BMN: It seems as though women are still quite a minority in your profession. What advice do you have, particularly for girls, who might want to pursue a career in comedy?
LONI: The thing about comedy, especially for women, in general it’s just a hostile and it’s an aggressive occupation. And depending on when you start, like you notice a lot of the famous comics, like Phyllis Diller, didn’t start until after she had her family. It all depends on when you start, but I always tell females that they have to decide what they want to sacrifice in their life. I sacrificed starting my own family because what I want to do is entertain people. A lot of females think that they can have it all. In this type of occupation, you can’t have it all, especially depending on where you’re starting. You have to concentrate, and it’s hard to sit here and raise kids, and then think that you’re going to go on the road. It’s virtually impossible. That’s the reason you don’t see a lot of females. I started out with a lot of females in my career and I’m the only one left because a lot of them started having families or got discouraged. So you really gotta love entertaining people and doing stand-up if you’re going to do this and be successful at it.
BMN: What is the best advice you ever received about pursuing your dream?
LONI: The best advice probably, I don’t remember who told me, but it was basically create your own opportunities. If you want to be a movie star or be a comedian you have to create the opportunities yourself. You can sit there and wait on somebody to give it to you, and you may wait your whole lifetime, or you can try to create it yourself.
BMN: How do you think growing up in Detroit influenced your comedy?
LONI: I think Detroit helped me because Detroit is such a real city. You know, they’re real people that work really hard, and they're humble people. I take that foundation and that kind of helps my comedy foundation. It’s not Hollywood, it’s real. I think that’s why people are in tune and want to hear what I have to say because they know that I’m going to tell them something that’s real and not for Hollywood’s sake. I have to attribute that to being from Detroit ‘cause we’re just real. We’re honest people. We want to have an honest living. When we celebrate we celebrate and when we work we work.
BMN: Do you make it back to Detroit or Michigan very often?
LONI: Usually twice a year.
BMN: Do you have any favorite places you like to visit when you come back?
LONI: I like to visit the places I used to visit in my childhood like Belle Isle, downtown Detroit, Tiger games. Places I used to go in my childhood, I still go.
BMN: What do you miss most now that your career has taken you elsewhere to live?
LONI: I do miss the seasons. I like the different seasons of the weather, that’s what I miss the most. I like to see the snow at Christmas, and the snow melting, I miss all of that winter. Of course there are some restaurants I probably miss too like coney island. They’re trying to open one here, but it’s not Detroit, ya know?
BMN: What are your thoughts on the Buy Michigan Now concept and the idea of supporting local businesses?
LONI: I think if we’re going to talk about the local businesses, the heart of Detroit is the automobile industry…I did internships for General Motors and for Chrysler so what I do is, if I buy a car I make sure I buy an American car. I’ll buy a car from General Motors. Because it’s important that I support, and to me that’s supporting. I know we live in a country where we can buy any type of car that we want, but I think times are really tough right now and if you’re going to make an expensive purchase, and they’ve come out with some really good, really good cars, especially like the Chrysler 300. I try to encourage people to buy American. Buy an American car because I know that is the heart and soul especially of Detroit. And of course, Faygo pop and Better Made potato chips.
BMN: What Shout Out do you have for your friends and fans in Michigan?
LONI: Shout out to the people in Michigan, especially my hometown of Detroit. If you’re having hard times just know that times always change and they always change for the better. Know that you know, hey, you got love everywhere. Everybody respects Detroit. Everybody knows Detroit, and things are gonna get better. You just gotta hang in there and believe.
To learn more about Loni Love, her career, and upcoming performances visit www.LoniLove.com.