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A Chat with Felicia Madison: Comedy's Late-Blooming Luminary

Meet Felicia Madison, a comedic powerhouse weaving laughter through marriage, motherhood, and New York's high life.  A mother of three, Felicia found her comedic calling post-kids, after the age of 50.  She is the founder of “Laughing Affairs”, which produces the daytime lunch show “Laughercise" and private comedy shows for events in need of uncontrollable laughter. As the New Talent Director at West Side Comedy Club, Felicia spotlights emerging talents through talent shows she curates and produces called F Comedy Club. Her recent ventures, FUNY Comedy School and FUNY Records, redefine comedy education and production.  And watch out for her upcoming YouTube stand-up special in February 2024, marking a new chapter in her career. Beyond the spotlight, Felicia balances family, golf, and exercise while passionately supporting ASPCA, Planned Parenthood, and The Jewish Museum. Join us for an exclusive Miami Living Magazine chat with Felicia Madison.



Miami Living (ML): So nice to speak with you Felicia! Your bio reads like a whirlwind of accomplishments in the comedy world. We're eager to dive into your story. Can you walk us through the moment when you realized comedy was your true calling, and how you navigated the transition into this vibrant and successful career?


Felicia: I had a friend that did stand up and I always told him whenever I saw him that I wanted to try it.  So finally, one day I decided to give it a whirl and took a class on his recommendation.  My first performance, my graduation performance, was so much fun and such a thrill I knew at that moment I was hooked.  From there I did what most new comedians do, performed in what the industry calls bringer shows… meaning you must literally bring an audience to get time on a show. You bring 4 people to a club, and you get five minutes of stage time. After a while, it became difficult for me to get my friends to travel downtown late at night, so I needed a better option. That is how I came up with lunchtime comedy shows. The desire to create daytime opportunities for myself and others also led to a daytime mic, which snowballed into producing nighttime shows which led to me overseeing new talent shows, to talent booking to now running a comedy club and school. I would say that that wasn’t necessarily my initial objective it just progressed this way… I do enjoy all of it, but what I truly love is to create and perform.


ML: As a mother of three, you've managed to juggle family life, a successful comedy career, and even founded Laughing Affairs. Tell us, how do you keep the laughs going at home, and what's the secret sauce to balancing family life with being a comedy powerhouse?


Felicia: It is not how I keep the laughs going it is more like how my kids give me more material….  Every day something happens in my life where I look at my kids and think to myself, this is going to be a good joke. Everyone in my family has a great sense of humor and so we are always making each other laugh, I just made a career out of it. 


 It is extremely difficult to balance family life and comedy because it does not coincide with anyone’s schedule… my husband works during the day; my kids are at school or work during the day, and they are all home and available at night when I am AT WORK! My youngest was 14 when I started comedy and before that I was a full time stay at home MOM. What is really depressing is that she has no memory of it… She sees me as always working and not around for her. She got the brunt of my working. Now my kids are adults and mostly independent, so the only person left to neglect is my husband, and so far, he has been a good sport.



ML: Your daytime lunch show, "Laughercise - Come Laugh Your Ass Off," sounds like the perfect midday pick-me-up. What inspired you to create this unique comedy experience, and how do you think laughter contributes to overall well-being?


Felicia: After performing late night, downtown for young crowds I was a) getting tired, b) running out of friends to “bring” and c) having a hard time relating to the young 20 somethings. My friends, like me, were basically free during the day when our kids were in school and extremely busy during the nighttime witching hours when we are dealing with our children, dinner, bath, homework and try, try, try to get them to bed. So that is when I decided to bring comedy to them during a time when they are free, hence laughercise. And I came up with laughercise because daytime was the time, we all worked out so this could be an alternative because laughing burns calories and tones the stomach plus definitely improves overall moods. Skip the gym and come laughercise with us.  Laughter is the best medicine; nothing beats a good belly laugh to reduce stress and help you relax.


ML:  Being the New Talent Director at West Side Comedy Club, you're essentially a comedy matchmaker. Can you share a memorable story of discovering a hidden gem and how you nurture and support emerging talent in the bustling New York City comedy scene?


Felicia: The best discovery or introduction to date is Zarna Garg. A friend of mine tagged me in a comment on one of Zarna’s Facebook posts saying, “you two should meet.” Granted I get that a lot and it usually doesn’t pan out. But I checked it out and I could tell Zarna was a natural entertainer. I reached out to her immediately. I then convinced her to come to my feedback open mic, which has the reputation of being one of the nicest mics in comedy. It was evident to me, and everyone else at the mic, that she had what it takes to succeed. Zarna was a dynamo, she is funny, with a distinct voice, confidence, drive, and business savvy. Together we produced a show called HinJews where we alerted with a skit together followed by our comedy and special guests…they were a huge success and gave Zarna the confidence that she could do this successfully on her own.  And she did. I love finding and supporting comics and for some odd reason I have a real talent for it.  And comedians trust me, they sometimes refer to me as a momager. Watch out Kris Jenner. I have taken my passion for helping comedians, which Zarna actually always encouraged me to do, into creating a full fledge comedy school, called FUNYstandup.com.



ML: From launching FUNY Comedy School to FUNY Records, you're shaping the future of comedy education and production. Can you share more about the motivation behind creating these platforms and your vision for shaping the next generation of comedians through education and record production?


Felicia: Like I mentioned earlier, I always enjoyed and had a knack for helping young comedians. I was also very frustrated with the programs out there for comedians. They were usually one off’s, not consistent in terms of what was taught and there were no real multitiered programs where you could progress up the ladder. As a very isolated career with no guild or unions there is no place for comedians to feel welcome and converse with others. I wanted to create a safe, friendly environment for comedians to come hang, learn, and take care of themselves. I have created in addition to the schools, a support group with #samehere_global a charity dedicated to raising awareness about mental health.  


Recordings are very popular and a great way for comedians to reach new audiences and make money.  I want to reach out to comedians that are on the verge of being discovered, who may not have a full hour (or between hours) and put together niche compilation albums where comedians perform ten minutes on a specific topic. I’m hoping this helps promote comedians and provide comedy in topics that may be underrepresented now.


ML: We've heard about your upcoming stand-up special on YouTube in February 2024, coinciding with your birthday. Any hints on what audiences can expect, and how does it feel to celebrate this milestone in your career with the world?

Felicia: Working on my one hour was such an incredible experience and I really grew as an artist because of it.  I had been thinking of doing an hour for a while. One day on the treadmill, where my mind really works the best, it occurred to me that my 45th anniversary of my bat mitzvah was coming up in April.  That is how I picked the date, and title, 45 years a woman---Anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah.  I noticed after my special everyone was tagging on Instagram with BTS (better than sex) and thought it was curious and interesting… I do have a joke in there about BTS. So, when someone mentioned that perhaps my title was a bit dull that thought popped in my head thus why my album is called better than sex.


I wasn’t sure what to expect from the hour… I thought of it as my hail Mary, do it and if something happens great, if not, I would concentrate on the business side of the comedy world. I spent three months working with comedians, honing, practicing, honing, practicing, rewriting, practicing, practicing, practicing… and then my final performance which by the way was the first time I ever performed the entire hour on stage. The response was better than expected especially by my husband who was jaded by my coming home in tears every night saying I can’t do this. He was very apprehensive. After the performance, he gave me a great big kiss and said that was amazing. After multiple months of waiting on edits, it is finally here, a culmination of years of comedy that pokes fun at parenting, marriage and life as a mom in an affluent part of the world.  


I am excited for the world to see the culmination of years of comedy, and I hope at the very least it makes someone laugh and at the best I get a tv series out of it making my pilot about my life come to life.



ML: Besides being a comedy dynamo, you're also a passionate supporter of the ASPCA, Planned Parenthood, and The Jewish Museum. Can you share a bit about why these causes are close to your heart, and how do you integrate your support for them into your busy schedule?


Felicia: Giving back is something I learned not from growing up but from my husband’s values and the values from Jewish tradition of tzedakah and tikkun olam.  At the club I produce at least one event a month where all proceeds go to a charity. I have been concentrating most of my efforts on the current crisis in the middle east and have raised funds for Magen David Adom and #Bringthemhome. Due my busy scheduling giving my time to charities has been drastically reduced.  So instead of chairing events, donating my time, and organizing activities, I produce charity shows.


ML:  Lastly, as we’ve been able to see, you're a real-life Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, juggling family, comedy, and philanthropy. If we were to peek into your everyday life, what's a typical day like for Felicia Madison, the superhero mom and comedian?


Felicia: I was so excited about the pilot I was writing about my life 8 years ago right before the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel came out. I remember exactly where I was when I first saw a promotion for it and thank God I was on the ground floor because when I jumped out the window I didn’t die. I mention this because in the pilot it really describes my life and the juxtaposition of life on the Upper East Side vs. A Comedy Club. I run in from a charity event dressed in my Chanel suit (which I don’t own yet) rip it off, put on jeans and a leather jacket (which I do own) and run to the dark basement club to hang, perform, and sometimes climb underneath something to check for a loose wire. That pretty much sums up my life balancing two different worlds.


 My schedule has gotten easier now that my kids are mostly grown and out of the house… I wake up, meditate, read the newspaper, head to the gym, do some housework/paperwork/organizing for both family and business-related things. Sometimes I’ll meet a friend, have a business lunch or if super busy eat on the run which is what I mostly do. I try to take time to write and work on my routine every day but with all my activities lately this is falling through the cracks.  Sometimes I can grab a quick bite with my husband, then it is off to the club for some meetings and a show.  


I am not a superhero, just a mom.  But being a mom has prepared me for just about everything. It taught me patience, resilience, and how to juggle many things at once. This combined with my upbringing to work hard and not take no for an answer gave me the confidence and strength to achieve whatever I put my mind to.



SOCIAL MEDIA:


By ML Staff. Images courtesy of Felicia Madison


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